health tips, Nutrition

How to detect selenium deficiency?

selenium deficiency

Von Apotheker Alexander Helm

Aus therapeutischer Sicht überprüft von Heilpraktikerin Antje Gerhold-Andersch

Alle Casida Ratgeber Inhalte werden medizinisch überprüft.

zuletzt aktualisiert am: 17. May 2021

People suffering from dry skin and hair loss, or feels constantly limp usually thinks first of a vitamin deficiency. However, a very common cause of such phenomena is often overlooked – selenium deficiency. In this article you will learn more about the importance of selenium, as well as the causes, symptoms and consequences of selenium deficiency. You will also find out what you can do about it.

What are the functions of selenium in the body?

As a trace element, selenium is essential for the metabolism because it takes on important functions in the body. All body tissues contain a tiny amount of this trace element, so its deficiency in the body gives rise to noticeable symptoms. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), selenium fulfills the following important functions in the human body:

  • strengthens the immune system
  • supports the maintenance of joints
  • strengthens hair and nails
  • supports the normal function of the thyroid gland
  • protects cells from oxidative stress

Is Selenium Deficiency a Common Issue?

According to statistics, more women than men are affected by selenium deficiency. It is suspected that lower meat consumption could be the possible cause of selenium deficiency. Based on this, it can be concluded that vegans and vegetarians in particular also belong to the risk group. In addition, people with an unbalanced diet and chronic intestinal problems are often affected by selenium deficiency. Anyone who regularly consumes alcohol and tobacco is also at risk.

What are the symptoms of selenium deficiency?

For legal reasons, we are unfortunately not allowed to write anything about the symptoms of selenium deficiency. However, you can read about it in many reliable sources, e.g. on the website of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE):

What are the reasons of selenium deficiency?

Compared to other countries, the soils in Germany are relatively poor in selenium. This means that the crops and vegetables from Germany are insufficient to adequately supply the body with the trace element. Animal products, on the other hand, contain more selenium. This is mainly due to the fact that the enrichment of animal feed is permitted in Europe and thus also in Germany. But people do not have to take a diet exclusively of animal products to prevent selenium deficiency. A balanced mixed diet is completely sufficient for the supply of selenium.

In this sense, the exclusive diet of vegetables and grains without animal products would be a common cause of selenium deficiency. This is why vegetarians and vegans are more likely to suffer from this issue. However, in such cases, foods with rich selenium content, such as nuts, can be integrated into your diet as compensation.

But the cause of selenium deficiency is not just the insufficient intake from a plant-based diet. There are also disease-related causes when the body either cannot absorb enough selenium or excretes too much of it. Chronic bowel inflammations such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, kidney failure and the resulting long-term dialysis, cystic fibrosis and genetic metabolic disorders can also be causes of selenium deficiency.

How to deal with selenium deficiency?

There are two ways to combat selenium deficiency. On the one hand through a diet rich in selenium and on the other hand through dietary supplements.

  • Nutrition

There is a sufficient amount of selenium in foods of animal origin such as fish, meat, liver, milk and cheese. Vegans and vegetarians as well as other people who want or have to forego animal foods can compensate for the selenium deficiency with selenium-rich foods such as nuts. Cereal products and vegetables are less helpful.

  • Nutritional supplements

A balanced and wholesome diet is usually sufficient to supply the body with selenium. However, if the typical symptoms of selenium deficiency persist, a check of selenium level by medical professionals would be a good idea. The doctor will most likely recommend dietary supplements if the blood test reveals a selenium deficiency. Medical advice is therefore also advisable in order to avoid an overdose.

When it comes to food supplements, it is important to choose preparations that optimally combine organic and inorganic selenium. A good example of a natural product are the Selenium Capsule Complex 200 µg from Casida. The high-dose capsules made in Germany contain no undesirable additives and ensure a balanced selenium level.

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