Selenium is an important mineral for women with endometriosis because of its anti-inflammatory properties, and it also supports the immune system.
We can easily become deficient in this mineral because the main way to obtain it is through plant foods, which takes up selenium from the soil. Over years of intensive farming and soil depletion, selenium is becoming more scarce in the food chain.
Interestingly it has been found that in cattle, endometriosis can be due to selenium deficiency. So farmers supplement their cattle with selenium along with other vital nutrients in the form of a salt lick.
Selenium is needed in every cell of our bodies, and is in particularly high concentrations in the kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, and testes. The most concentrated food source for selenium is the Brazil nut; a single one contains 120 mcg, (which is about twice the RDA).
Seafood in general, as well as poultry and meat, are also good sources. So are grains, especially oats and brown rice. The concentration of selenium in all these food sources depends on a variable that’s very hard for people to determine: the level of selenium in the soil in which the plant grew (and which the animal then ate).
Only in the past two decades have scientists begun to understand just what a vital role selenium plays in numerous biological functions. Perhaps its most crucial job is to prevent disease.
Health Benefits of Selenium
Selenium has many tasks to perform in the body. It helps to boost the immune system and fight off infection, providing a general increase in the body’s defence against dangerous bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. On a basic cellular level, every cell in the body needs a particular hormone (T3 - the active thyroid hormone) from the thyroid gland, and selenium helps to convert it to an active (usable) form.
The most well known use of selenium in supplement form is as an antioxidant; it helps to mop up dangerous molecules known as free radicals that can damage and alter healthy cells. It has also been recommended for staving off the effects of ageing.
Selenium can help with many health issues including:
Prevention of cancer. Test-tube studies indicate that in addition to fostering healthy cell growth and division, selenium discourages the formation of tumours. When researchers at Cornell University and the University of Arizona pooled results from 5-year studies designed to assess the effects of selenium supplements (200 mcg daily), they came up with some startling findings: Compared with the rest of the population, participants had 63% fewer prostate cancers, 58% fewer colon-rectal tumours, and 46% fewer lung cancers. Overall, their death rate from cancer was 39% lower than the average.
Protect against heart attack and stroke. Selenium may decrease the “stickiness” of the blood, lessening its tendency to clot and thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, the mineral may encourage healthy heart function by increasing the proportion of HDL (“good”) cholesterol to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. People who have already had a heart-attack or a stroke, or who smoke, appear to benefit the most from selenium.
Anti-inflammatory properties. Selenium’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions may be enhanced when combined with vitamin E. For women with endometriosis which causes inflammatory, this nutrient duo may aid healing of the skin and help protect the heart, blood vessels, skin, joints, and other parts of the body prone to inflammation.
Symptoms of selenium deficiency include muscle weakness and fatigue. Poor selenium intake over time may even increase the risk for cancer, immune-system problems, heart disease, and various inflammatory conditions (especially skin-related ones).
Supplementing with selenium is simple enough and there are many supplement available, some of which are combined with vitamin E and additional vitamins. Alternatively you can eat foods high in selenium such, and Brazil nuts have the highest content.