S is for Selenium

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By: Randi Karlinsky MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT

Selenium is a trace mineral, which means the body only needs a small amount in order to perform its

essential functions in the body. These include antioxidant protection and general thyroid health.

Selenium is an essential part of a group of 25 proteins called “selenoproteins”. All 25 selenoproteins

work in a variety of ways to protect the body against oxidative stress. They play a key role in the body’s

detoxification system, help the body recycle previously used vitamin C back into its active form, and turn

chemicals like hydrogen peroxide into harmless substances such as water. These are just a few of the

many ways selenium contributes to the body’s defense system.

In addition to its antioxidant power, selenium also plays an important role in thyroid health. The thyroid

gland secretes thyroid hormones, which regulate chemical functions in the body. Thyroid hormones

regulate our heart rate, metabolic rate (the rate we burn calories), digestion, heat production, skin

maintenance, and many more. Selenium is a key component in the enzyme that converts the less active

thyroid hormone (T4) into the more active version (T3). Together, with iodine, selenium maintains the

health of both our thyroid and body overall.

Excellent sources of selenium include:

  • Seafood such as tuna, shrimp, sardines, salmon, and cod

  • Cremini and shiitake mushrooms

  • Asparagus

  • Mustard seeds

Very good sources of selenium include:

  • Turkey

  • Chicken

  • Lamb

  • Scallops

  • Beef

  • Barley

  • Tofu

  • Eggs

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