Selenium : Vital to Thyroid Health & Detoxification Written by: Dr. Pat Nardini, ND on January, 24th 2014
Are you getting enough selenium in your diet? It can do wonders for your thyroid and for your overall health!
Your thyroid gland is one of the most important parts of your entire body! It affects nearly every cell you have, and helps regulate your metabolism, energy levels, and more. But to protect your thyroid gland and optimize its function, there are many things to consider. One of the biggest factors is managing stress! When your adrenal glands (which are closely linked to your thyroid) are overworked, they will produce cortisol, which can disrupt thyroid function. Stress can also imbalance your immune system, leading to an autoimmune inflammatory reaction to the thyroid gland, called thyroiditis. Stress can lead to digestive problems as well, which make it more likely to develop multiple nutritional deficiencies. In my previous articles, I have discussed some of the nutrients that are important for thyroid function, like iodine and vitamin D. But there is another mineral which has a wide range of benefits for the body, including the thyroid â€“ selenium. What is selenium? What damage can selenium deficiency do? And how does selenium benefit you? How much selenium should I take? Read more to find out!
Selenium for Enzyme Function Selenium is a component of a certain class of enzymes, called iodothyronine deiodinases. They are located in the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and other organs and are needed to convert T4 thyroid hormone into T3 thyroid hormone. This stuff is the fuel which keeps your metabolism running smoothly, and it comes from your thyroid. As I mentioned in another article, T3 is four to five times more active than T4 in stimulating your metabolism. If you have a selenium deficiency, you’ll have a hard time making enough T3 and your metabolism will slow down. This can lead to weight gain, low body temperature, fatigue, or constipation, among other thyroid-related symptoms.
Selenium for Thyroiditis Treatment Autoimmune thyroiditis conditions, including Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease, actually cause your body to attack and destroy elements of the thyroid system. Obviously, this will seriously reduce the function of your thyroid gland, and that isn’t what you want. Your body has an enzyme called thyroperoxidase or TPO, which your thyroid uses to incorporate iodine into thyroid hormones like T3 and T4. But when you suffer from Hashimoto’s disease, an antibody called anti-thyroperoxidase (anti-TPO) destroys your TPO. But there is hope! More than one study has shown that supplementation with selenium can reduce the levels of anti-TPO in Hashimoto’s patients. And when you reduce anti-TPO levels, you can help your thyroid regain the ability to make its hormones. In other words, selenium as a thyroid supplement can help treat thyroid conditions!
Selenium for Detoxification Selenium is a co-factor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. In other words, glutathione peroxidase needs selenium, and if you suffer from a selenium deficiency, your glutathione peroxidase won’t perform its function properly. And its function is very important! In fact, glutathione peroxidase is the most important antioxidant in the body. You may have heard of antioxidants before, but what you might not know is just how important they are! Antioxidants disarm “free-radicals”, which are toxic chemicals present in fried foods and are naturally produced by the body during normal metabolism. Without anti-oxidants, like glutathione peroxidase, tissues become slowly destroyed, predisposing a person to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer. But selenium backs up your antioxidants, helping round up these nasty free radicals and keeping you healthy!
Too Much Selenium Can Be Toxic More is not always better. Too much selenium can have a toxic effect on the body.
Because it’s a trace mineral, selenium should be in relatively low levels in the body compared to other minerals, like calcium and magnesium. A study in 1992 found that taking more than 800 micrograms (mcg) of selenium per day can lead to “selenosis” – a condition characterized by fatigue, digestive problems, hair loss, and, believe it or not, garlic breath.
Supplementing With Selenium “If selenium is so important,” you may be asking yourself, “should I be taking a supplement?” The answer really depends on your unique biological makeup. You can check your selenium levels with a urine test. Even with sufficient selenium levels, though, some people, with thyroiditis or other immune conditions, may benefit from taking selenium as a thyroid supplement. The best supplemental form of selenium seems to be in the amino acid, selenomethionine. For most people, a daily supplement of up to 200 mcg per day is a good level to help maintain detoxification and immune function without going overboard or causing damage. If you are considering taking more than that, make sure to consult with a qualified health practitioner. But the safest way to get selenium, of course, is through the foods you eat. The richest dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, fish, poultry, liver, brown rice, and oats. Selenium is an important mineral for the healthy functioning of the immune system and detox pathways. Make sure to ask your holistic practitioner about it when making a plan to optimize your health.
Until next time, this is Dr. Pat Nardini, putting “Your Wellness First!” Dr. Pat Nardini, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto, Canada. His practice focuses on promotion of the overall health of his patients through a wide range of naturopathic methods. He has been in private practice now for over 10 years and specialises in thyroid conditions, primarily Wilson's Temperature Syndrome. Read and see more naturopathy health articles and videos to learn more about Dr. Nardini, his modalities, and how naturopathy can help you.
Selenium can go a long way toward keeping you healthy! Read more to discover more about selenium benefits and the effects of selenium defici...