Selenium is an essential mineral found in trace amounts in
the human body. It works as an antioxidant, especially when
combined with vitamin E, by scavenging damaging particles in
the body known as free radicals. These particles occur
naturally in the body but can damage cell membranes,
interact with genetic material, and possibly contribute to
the aging process as well as the development of a number of
conditions including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants
such as selenium can neutralize free radicals and may reduce
or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. Selenium
is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system
and affects blood pressure and inflammation in the body.
Brewer's yeast and wheat germ, liver, butter, fish
(mackerel, tuna, halibut, flounder, herring, smelts) and
shellfish (oysters, scallops and lobster), garlic, whole
grains, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts are all good
sources of selenium. Selenium is destroyed when foods are
refined or processed. Therefore, eating a variety of whole,
unprocessed foods is the best way to obtain this nutrient.
This means eating foods in their original state, not canned,
frozen, or commercially prepared. Deficiency is rare.