Selenium Maintains A Healthy Immune System

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Selenium is a trace element that for some time was not considered essential to good health. However, it has been recognized as a necessary mineral and a strong antioxidant. Antioxidants clean free radicals, byproducts of our own metabolism, from the body. If free radicals are not neutralized, they damage our cells leading to rapid aging, poor immune function and possibly cancer.

In our body, selenium is used to manufacture selenoproteins. These are powerful antioxidant enzymes that help to protect our body from aging, help us tolerate stress and may help to prevent some cancers. Stress in the body can trigger increased production of free radicals. Selenium helps us tolerate stress better by cleaning up these extra by products. It is also crucial for the formation of a protein that inhibits tumor growth. In numerous studies, selenium has been noted as a potent cancer fighting compound.

Selenium also helps control the healthy function of the thyroid. People who are iodine deficient are often given selenium to help them. The thyroid is an important part of our immune system as this is where are immune cells mature. These immune cells are a type of white blood cell. Selenium is also used by the body in the formation of white blood cells. People with HIV often have a deficiency of selenium as chronic immune activation wears down the immune system. Other illnesses that affect the white blood cell count may deplete selenium from the body. A supplement may be useful in these cases.

Selenium also works in concert with several vitamins that are also powerful antioxidants. Selenium seems to boost the efficiency of vitamin C, another antioxidant and a vitamin also known for helping the immune system. Combined with vitamin E, selenium is help control excess inflammation. While inflammation is a natural and useful response of the body, too much or chronic inflammation can be harmful. Several conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Crohn's Disease are inflammatory conditions. Selenium may be helpful in easing this inflammation.

Interestingly, selenium also seems to help ease the inflammation associated with asthma. In studies, it has been noted that many smoker's have low selenium levels. It may be that their selenium is being used to fight the inflammation caused by smoking. Smokers may want to consider taking a selenium supplement.

Too much selenium can be toxic. While cases of selenium toxicity are extremely rare, one should follow the directions on any selenium supplement and stick to the recommended dosages. A deficiency of selenium does not directly cause illness but reduces the body's ability to deal with stress which leads to illness. Selenium supplements are especially helpful for people who have poor mineral absorption such as those with gastrointestinal illnesses. Liquid supplements are especially useful in these cases as the minerals are much more readily absorbed and used by the body.

A good quality, liquid selenium supplement can help to ensure that you are getting enough selenium to maintain your immune system in top condition. Smokers and people with certain illnesses should especially consider a liquid selenium supplement.