Why Selenium is a Crucial Mineral for Thyroid Health
- Published on: 20 January, 2018
- Last update: 20 January, 2018
I’ll never forget when I first started researching the concept of orthomolecular medicine, which focuses on treating illness by looking at deficiencies of nutrients/minerals rather than the pharmaceutical model of suppressing or changing biological processes with chemical compounds. While reading about mineral deficiencies, I brought up selenium supplementation to my father. He has worked with horses all his life, and said he would always include it in their feed because the soil where we live is deficient.
We looked at some horse sites together and found a map showing low areas of selenium all along the east and west coasts. I wondered why this was common knowledge to horse trainers but not the general public, as our food would be low too!
That sent me on a frenzy of research where I learned that in areas of the world where the soil is lowest in selenium, cancer risk is increased. Selenium is found in brazil nuts, shellfish, eggs and garlic/onions, but the soil content is what gets it into the food so actual levels may vary (though I still eat brazil nuts each week to get what I can). I kept searching and found the connection between selenium deficiency and the growing epidemic of thyroid issues, and the rest was history! Years later, our thyroid support formula Thyro-Pro is designed with this in mind, and contains 200mcg of bioavailable selenium.
Here’s why it’s so important not only for your thyroid, but for the health of your entire system:
WHAT IS SELENIUM?
Selenium is a micronutrient found in brazil nuts, garlic and shellfish that increases immunity, boosts antioxidant activity (specifically the body’s master antioxidant glutathione), and plays a key role in maintaining healthy thyroid function. Selenium acts like a mechanic within the body: it goes into the nucleus of the cells where the DNA is stored and looks for damage. It attaches to protective antioxidants like glutathione and then works to reduce and repair DNA damage (which left uncontrolled could lead to cancerous cell mutation and tumor growth).
- SELENIUM & CANCER – According to studies, selenium is effective at reducing the risk of cancer incidence, cancer caused mortality, and severity of cancers specifically in the liver, prostate, colo-rectal and lungs (Fleet, 1997). It does this by activating ‘selenoproteins,’ which distribute selenium from the liver all around the body, and also help antioxidants do their job. There is evidence that selenium can not only help cut cancer risk but can also contribute to slowing down existing cancer progression and tumor growth. (Rayman, 2005). Lastly, a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the highest levels of blood selenium/selenoprotein P are associated with a decreased risk of developing liver cancer.
- SELENIUM & THE THYROID – Selenium is essential for the conversion of thyroid hormones (T4 to T3), as deiodinase enzymes (which remove iodine atoms from T4 during conversion) are selenium-dependent. Several research studies have demonstrated the benefits of selenium supplementation in treating autoimmune thyroid conditions. One study found that selenium supplementation had a significant impact on inflammatory activity in thyroid-specific autoimmune disease, and reducing inflammation may limit damage to thyroid tissue (source). Another study which followed patients for 9 months, found that selenium supplementation reduced thyroid peroxidase antibody levels in the blood, even in already selenium sufficient patients (source).
- SELENIUM & VIRUSES – Researchers working with the flu virus discovered that animals deficient in selenium were more susceptible to infectious diseases. When animals with a selenium deficiency were contaminated with the flu virus, the virus was able to evolve and mutate into a far more virulent form when it was passed on to the next animal (source).
Check out our Thyro-Pro formula, which includes a bioavailable form of this important mineral, and don’t forget to include brazil nuts and garlic in your diet.