Selenium Benefits and immune System Function
This is because each mineral has a different set of functions in the body. Mineral requirements also vary according to age, gender and physiological state, such as menopause. Although a varied and balanced diet should provide us with the minerals we need, some individuals may need additional help from supplementation.
Today’s focus is on selenium, a trace mineral. The dietary need for trace minerals is less than 100milligrams per day – hence the adjective. Selenium can be found in a variety of foods including brazil nuts, whole grains, fish, meat and eggs. Despite this, in the UK and Europe selenium, intake is suboptimal mostly due to inadequate selenium levels in the soil.1 The UK reference nutrient intake(RNI) for selenium is 60 μg for adult women and 75 μg for adult men. In addition, EFSA notes the tolerable upper intake limit (UL) for selenium is 300 μg per day.
Selenium has a variety of functions within the body including protecting body cells against oxidative stress (it is an important component of antioxidant enzymes).2 It also supports normal thyroid function. And… just like other trace minerals, it plays an important role in supporting the cells and tissue of the immune system.
Research suggests that maintaining an optimal selenium benefits status helps support adaptive immunity. Optimal selenium intake contributes to T-cell proliferation, NK cell activity and innate immune cell functions. In elderly individuals, the dietary intake of selenium-rich foods or supplementation may help with supporting immune defences.
Although selenium cannot prevent ill health, dietary selenium intake and selenium status is an integral part of supporting immune system function.