SELENIUM IS ESSENTIAL FOR HORMONE HEALTH – The Real Facts!

SELENIUM IS ESSENTIAL FOR HORMONE HEALTH – The Real Facts!

Updated 20/12/17, originally published 22/01/2016

 

At the Lucy Rose Clinic you will hear us talk a lot about selenium. It is an amazing nutrient that
activates thyroid hormone in your body, but it also does so much more! Selenium concentration is higher in the thyroid gland than in any other organ in the body, and, like Iodine, Selenium has important functions in thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism. Although it is understood that Selenium deficiency does not cause illness directly, its absence leaves the human body more susceptible to illnesses given that it plays a vital role in hormonal and immune regulation (1).

 

SELENIUM & THYROID HORMONESthyroid gland2

Optimal Selenium nutrition supports the efficient synthesis and metabolism of thyroid hormones, and helps to protect the thyroid gland from inflammatory damage when it is exposed to the high levels of Iodine required to produce T4 (1).

Multiple research studies have revealed that supplementation with Selenium helps to reduce inflammation associated with thyroid-specific autoimmune conditions. In reducing inflammation, Selenium effectively reduces the damage to thyroid tissue (1).

Furthermore, Selenium is essential for the conversion of T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Other important nutrients include Zinc and Magnesium. Insufficient levels of T3 can result in the development of hypothyroid symptoms (1).

“Selenium deficiency could exacerbate Iodine deficiency, potentially increasing the risk of cretinism in infants” (14)

 

 

SELENIUM & LIVER CLEARANCE OF OESTROGEN

3.STRESS

 

Excess oestrogen in the body can lead to the development of a number of reproductive conditions, namely endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fibroids (2). The liver plays a vital role in oestrogen clearance, as it converts oestrogen into compounds which can be eliminated by the body (3). Selenium aids in the efficient liver clearance of oestrogen, and thus aids in the prevention of the above mentioned conditions (4). The above are also strongly associated with Iodine deficiency, so co nutrition is just as important as any individual supplement.

 

 

 

ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES OF SELENIUM

Research has also shown that Selenium levels are reduced in individuals with hormonal types of cancer, such as endometrial, cervical, ovarian and prostate cancers (5). Although studies to date have been inconclusive with regard to whether Selenium has the potential to treat cancer specifically, they have shown that Selenium possesses cancer-preventative properties (5). Further more 28% – 46% of our selenium is stores are kept in our bones! The older myths about simply taking a large Calcium tablets daily are long behind us (8). Sadly, and ironically, some medications including chemotherapy, can strip the body of its Selenium content (9)

“Epidemiological studies have suggested an inverse association between Selenium status and the risk of colorectal, prostate, lung, bladder, skin, esophageal, and gastric cancers” (13)

 

 

CONCLUSION? GET MORE SELENIUM-RICH SOURCES AND TREAT THAT GUT!!

Selenium has been proven to possess multiple benefits for health, including thyroid and reproductive hormone regulation, in addition to antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Therefore, it is recommended that we consume plenty of Selenium -containing foods to increase our daily intake. Some of the best sources of Selenium include tuna, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, octopus/squid, chicken, eggs, salmon, mushrooms and shrimp (6). Organ meats are particularly rich so it may be time to whip out Mums pate recipe with organic or grassfed chicken livers! Please note, that Selenium content varies greatly in plant based foods as it depends on multiple factors such as soil pH, the amount of organic matter in the soil and what type of selenium it is.

digestionSelenium deficiency is most common among individuals with digestive health issues, such as Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease, and those affected by severe inflammation as a result of chronic infection(2). We recommend using 1 Tbsp diluted apple cider vinegar (organic with mother tincture is best) in some warm water, 30 minutes before meals. Slippery elm and psyllium husks are great gut soothers and may be used to treat abnormal bowel motions. Practice caution with self dosing however, as both may decrease drug absorption if taken at the same time of day! Liquorice herbal tea is naturally sweet tasting, and very anti-inflammatory to the gut lining (an herbal action called ‘demulcent’. It will not damage the gut like ibuprofen drugs)

In supplements, dosing ranges may go from 26mcg in a multivitamin to 400mcg in health treatment protocols, so checking in with your Naturopath is important to monitor your intake. The recommended daily intake may not be sufficient for optimal health, and dietary intake or poor digestive health affecting Selenium levels are likely to require supplementation (* UL stands for the  Tolerable Upper Intake Level : it’s the most you can take daily that is most unlikely to cause adverse health effects.) (10)

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Selenium [10]*
AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months45 mcg45 mcg  
7–12 months60 mcg60 mcg  
1–3 years90 mcg90 mcg  
4–8 years150 mcg150 mcg  
9–13 years280 mcg280 mcg  
14–18 years400 mcg400 mcg400 mcg400 mcg
19+ years400 mcg400 mcg400 mcg400 mcg

*Breast milk, formula, and food should be the only sources of Selenium for infants.

 

Can I get too much selenium?
Australia has low selenium in our soils, and while much progress has occurred in fertilising livestock pastures to prevent deficiencies in animals, the same level of research has not yet been done on human food production. Therefor, it is likely that many Australians are low in selenium.
If you are reading articles that warn that you can get too much selenium, check the source. Many American articles warn of overdoing selenium because they have good levels of selenium in the soils, therefor, it is more likely that people living there require little or no supplementation.
At the Lucy Rose Clinic, you may find that you are taking beyond the recommended daily
requirement of selenium. This is fine short term while deficiencies and toxicities are being
addressed. However, if you have concerns, speak with your practitioner. To give you an idea, a
reported toxic dose was 200 times the RDI taken for an undisclosed amount of time.
This particular incident was caused by an incorrectly manufactured American vitamin product! This is a great example of why we recommend specific products with stringent testing and quality control.
Signs of selenium overload are: nausea; vomiting; nail discoloration, brittleness, and loss; hair loss; fatigue; irritability; and foul breath odour (often described as “garlic breath”)

 

NEED MORE DATA?

Thyroid hormones have many typs of condition: hypo, hyper, Graves, Hashimotos, goiters… the list goes on. Selenium is a key player in all of these. Here is some extra reading and clinical data for you

“A cross-sectional study in 805 adults with mild iodine deficiency in Denmark also found a significant inverse association between serum selenium concentration and thyroid volume in women” (12)

“Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the effects of 200 mcg/day selenium (as sodium selenite), 1,200 mg/day pentoxifylline (an antiinflammatory agent), or placebo for 6 months in 159 patients with mild Graves’ orbitopathy. Compared with patients treated with placebo, those treated with selenium but not pentoxifylline reported a higher quality of life. Furthermore, ophthalmic outcomes improved in 61% of patients in the selenium group compared with 36% of those in the placebo group, and only 7% of the selenium group had mild progression of the disease, compared with 26% of those in the placebo group.” (11)

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES & RECOMMENDED READING

  1. Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:225-37
  2. Kresser, C 2012, Selenium: The Missing Link for Treating Hypothyroidism? Available from http://chriskresser.com/selenium-the-missing-link-for-treating-hypothyroidism/ . [20 January 2016].
  3. Natural Hormone Health n.d., Is A Hormone Imbalance Causing Fatigue, Hot Flushes, Weight Gain, Low Sex Drive, Depression Or Anxiety? Available from: natural-hormone-health.com/hormone-imbalance.html . [21 January 2016].
  4. Lam, M 2012, Estrogen Dominance – Part 2, Adrenal Fatigue Center. Available from https://www.drlam.com/blog/estrogen-dominance-part-2/1781/ . [21 January 2016].
  5. Stop The Thyroid Madness 2005-2016, Selenium – What’s that? What’s it good for? Available from stopthethyroidmadness.com/selenium/ . [21 January 2016].
  6. University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) 2016, Selenium. Available from https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/selenium . [21 January 2016].
  7. Bembu n.d., 15 Foods Rich in Selenium for a Healthier Thyroid. Available from bembu.com/selenium-rich-foods . [21 January 2016].
  1. Terry EN, Diamond AM. Selenium. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:568-87
  2. Dennert G, Horneber M. Selenium for alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery in cancer patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006:CD005037. [PubMed abstract]
  3. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.
  4. Marcocci C, Kahaly GJ, Krassas GE, Bartalena L, Prummel M, Stahl M, et al. Selenium and the course of mild Graves’ orbitopathy. N Engl J Med 2011;364:1920-31. [PubMed abstract]
  5. Rasmussen LB, Schomburg L, Kohrle J, Pedersen IB, Hollenbach B, Hog A, et al. Selenium status, thyroid volume, and multiple nodule formation in an area with mild iodine deficiency. Eur J Endocrinol 2011;164:585-90. [PubMed abstract]
  6. Dennert G, Zwahlen M, Brinkman M, Vinceti M, Zeegers MP, Horneber M. Selenium for preventing cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011:CD005195. [PubMed abstract]
  7. Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:711-8
  8. Terry EN, Diamond AM. Selenium. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:568-87
  9. Dennert G, Horneber M. Selenium for alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery in cancer patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006:CD005037. [PubMed abstract]
  10. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.
  11. Marcocci C, Kahaly GJ, Krassas GE, Bartalena L, Prummel M, Stahl M, et al. Selenium and the course of mild Graves’ orbitopathy. N Engl J Med 2011;364:1920-31. [PubMed abstract]
  12. Rasmussen LB, Schomburg L, Kohrle J, Pedersen IB, Hollenbach B, Hog A, et al. Selenium status, thyroid volume, and multiple nodule formation in an area with mild iodine deficiency. Eur J Endocrinol 2011;164:585-90. [PubMed abstract]
  13. Dennert G, Zwahlen M, Brinkman M, Vinceti M, Zeegers MP, Horneber M. Selenium for preventing cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011:CD005195. [PubMed abstract]
  14. Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:711-8