It has long been known in medical circles that the right amount of selenium is needed for general health as well as preventing thyroid problems. Selenium is an essential (i.e. our body doesnt make it, so we need to eat it) trace mineral that is found in the soil. It is from the soil that selenium finds its way into our food – but it is increasingly becoming clear that modern farmland in the US and Europe simply doesnt have enough. Besides thyroid problems, selenium deficiency can lead to early miscarriage, male infertility, mood problems, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
What Does Selenium Do?
Selenium is an active part of an enzyme needed for the thyroid gland to effectively produce the T3 and T4 hormones. These hormones help control weight, heart rate, skin condition, and energy levels of the body. It also plays an important role in controlling the bodys temperature, other hormone levels, and metabolism. Thyroid hormones help in regulating the metabolic rate within each cell of the body and influence different cellular enzymes. Poor functioning of the thyroid gland give rise to a number of thyroid problems.
Selenium deficiency, therefore, leads to a number of thyroid problems, mainly hypothyroidism, and the associated symptoms of thyroid problems: lethargy and weight gain.
How Much Selenium is Needed to Prevent Thyroid Problems?
The maximum level of selenium recommended for adults is 400 micrograms per day. This is a relatively small amount, and intake over this could be toxic. It is for this reason that up until recently very few doctors have recommended selenium supplements for thyroid problems. It was not considered likely that people would be deficient in this mineral because of its ubiquity in soil. However, a lot of recent research is showing that people who suffer from the symptoms of thyroid problems also have selenium deficiencies. Europe in particular has selenium-poor soil, and it was in the UK that researchers first found the connection between selenium deficiency and thyroid problems. America was thought to have adequate amounts of selenium in its soil until now. However, some studies have shown that is deficient in nearly all US soil east of the Mississippi, and much of the rest of the nation.
In addition to selenium supplements, selenium-rich foods such as kidney, liver, crab, other shellfish, and Brazil nuts can be eaten.
Are You Getting Enough?
One very important thing to note is that thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism, are difficult to spot and can go undiagnosed for some time. One of the first symptoms of thyroid problems is usually weight gain, especially if the pounds pile on quickly and are almost impossible to remove. The skin could become dry and rough, the hair dry and coarse, and constant tiredness are also symptoms of thyroid problem, particularly hypothyroidism. There could also be memory loss, cramps and constipation. All of these symptoms or just a few can be present, which means diagnosis of a thyroid problem by your physician is recommended.
The key issue for thyroid patients is making sure you get enough, but not too much, selenium. Talking to a good nutritionist or holistic physician can help you determine if selenium might help your health and thyroid function.