8 Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency and How to Avoid Them

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selenium-image-design-1You may never have heard of selenium before, but it is an antioxidant that the body needs. It’s essential for good health, and with a healthy and balanced diet, you will likely already get enough.

To be more exact, selenium isn’t the antioxidant. It’s a protein that helps to create an essential antioxidant. When you get enough, your body will get the energy that it needs for physical and mental needs. It has also been known to help protect against some cancers and heart problems. Studies have shown a reduction in the likes of lung, colon and bladder cancer. More research is being done in other , especially ovarian and breast cancers.

When you start showing the symptoms of selenium deficiency, the best thing you can do is add foods that are high in it to your diet. Take action earlier to be able to improve your health and overall wellbeing. It’s important to make changes quickly, as a deficiency has been linked to vessel damage and heart disease risk.

The good news is that the majority of people in Western World won’t have a selenium deficiency. This is more common in HIV patients and those with  Crohn’s disease who suffer from digestive problems. It’s often due to the inability to absorb nutrients from the food that we eat.

But what are these symptoms of selenium deficiency that you should be looking out for? These eight are among the most common that you need to be aware of.

Do You Shed a Lot of Hair?

Hair loss

This is one of those things that happens to everyone. We all shed some hair and skin on a daily basis. The cells die, and the body needs to get rid of them somehow. It’s perfectly normal to see some hair loss or skin shedding.

Hair loss is also an age-related problem. It can be difficult to determine whether it is happening because of your selenium deficiency or due to other problems.

What you want to look out for is the amount of hair or skin that you are losing. You shouldn’t lose large clumps on a daily basis. You’ll find a few strands. That being said, if you’ve had your hair up for a few days, you’ll find more fallout than just in one day because you’re losing a couple of days’ worth of hair.

Severe selenium deficiency can also cause the leg and underarm hair to come out. You’ll usually find that the hair loss overall is quick and even.

Discolouration of the Nails and Skin

Female hands with dirty nails

Another common problem is that the nails and skin start to change color. Yes, this is another symptom that is involved in numerous other problems. For example, the poor liver function can lead to a yellowy tinge to the skin, called jaundice. The use of certain foods or ingredients can cause the nails to change color. You may even have caused some nail color changes because of the use of some nail polish.

With selenium deficiency, the bed of your fingernails will start to change color. They’ll look more white, instead of the normal color of your skin. This white color won’t grow upwards with the nail and is usually actually within the bed and the skin around it.

Other parts of your skin can start to change color, leading to pigmentation issues. When you take in more selenium, you can reverse the condition.

Do You Feel More Tired than Usual?

Serious woman looking at something

Remember that the selenium helps with the energy levels. It helps to reduce oxidative stress, which means that more oxygenated blood can get around the body. This is extremely important for the energy levels. Your brain will be able to function better, releasing the right types of nutrients around your system.

If you struggle with fatigue or you suddenly feel more tired than usual, you will want to consider changes in your diet. This is actually a symptom of so many other problems, and it could just be a sign that you are temporarily run down or have a viral infection. It is also a common sign of a thyroid problem, anemia, and a deficiency in B vitamins.

Your doctor will want to do a test for all the different types of vitamins and minerals that you could be deficient in. This will bring up all issues, including selenium.

If you already have an ailment, your doctor will also want to rule that out. It may be a symptom of something else.

Does Your Brain Feel Foggy?

broken laptop

How often have you made it from A to B or written out something and just had no memory of doing it? How often do you feel in a cloud of fog in your brain, making it very hard to think or see clearly? You spend all your time trying to work through the fog, rather than working on the actual project.

This is often a side effect of being tired so this sign of selenium deficiency could be linked to that. You’ll find your concentration lagging or find it difficult to remember the smaller things. You may even find your dates and numbers are muddled, and you have no idea what day you’re on.

It sounds more like being a parent at times, right? Or just being so drained from work that you can’t function properly.

Well, the deficiency leads to low energy—and not just physical energy. Remember that your brain needs oxygen to function properly. Your mental energy is diminished, which means that you just don’t feel like yourself.

The problem with a lack of mental energy is that there are other mental health problems that come up. This symptom can lead to depression, which can have further problems on your health. You also become more irritable, and it can severely affect your social life.

Has Hypothyroidism Become a Health Issue?

Throat pain

We’ve mentioned it in passing. Thyroid issues can lead to low energy levels. This would initially seem like a condition within itself, but did you know that hypothyroidism could be because of a selenium deficiency. If you repaired the deficiency, you could find that your thyroid problems reverse on their own and there is no need to be on medication for the rest of your life.

Hypothyroidism is the medical name given to an under active thyroid. It’s where the thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones to the body, and tiredness is one of the most common symptoms that people notice. Weight gain is another common issue, often because people find they need to eat more to be able to get the energy they need throughout the day.

Many doctors will treat the condition because it is serious. However, it’s important to look into the reasons for it. Doctors need to do more research to you as a patient. You may also want to consider increasing the amount of selenium that you have in your diet to see if there are any positive changes. Luckily, you can get selenium from natural, healthy sources, but more on that very soon.

Fertility Problems May Arise

Worried woman holding pregnancy test and man looking phone

Low selenium levels have been linked to numerous fertility issues. In men, it can lead to poor swimmers. Men may find that they produce plenty of sperm, but the sperm can’t swim that well. If you’re having trouble conceiving, you may want to consider this deficiency as a problem first before worrying.

In women, a lack of selenium has been linked to reoccurring miscarriages. If you have been through more than two miscarriages, doctors will look for any signs that could cause this. They want you to have a healthy pregnancy the next time and will take steps to check any deficiencies. You’ll be alerted if this comes up.

The lack of the mineral causes menstrual changes, due to the hormonal changes. Remember that your thyroid is in charge of producing hormones and this deficiency affects that. If you find that your menstrual periods aren’t equal or have changed considerably over the years, you’ll want to find out if there is a medical reason.

Your Immune System will Suffer

sick woman

You’ll have heard this about every single deficiency out there. The truth is that a normal and healthy diet is the best thing for your immune system. By making a few changes and causing some deficiencies, you will see a drop in your immunity. You’ll be more susceptible to minor conditions like colds, or you could be more at risk of more severe problems.

It’s worth remembering the fact that selenium helps to create glutathione peroxidase, an essential antioxidant. Antioxidants are linked to boosting the immune system while fighting free radicals that lead to cancer and dementia.

Those who already have compromised immunes systems will suffer the most. This is because their bodies are already fighting off infections and just can’t handle anymore. Research has shown that by taking more selenium can help to boost the immunity while it is low to fight off further problems.

Are Your Asthma Symptoms Getting Worse

AUSCULTATION, CHILD

How have your asthma symptoms changed over the years? There have been studies that show selenium helping to improve symptoms, so if they are getting worse, you may want to check your levels of this antioxidant. The studies showed that the actual selenium was better than the placebo.

This could be due to the body being able to fight off other infections. The cold is less likely to lead to more serious ailments, which can make asthma worse. Your body can do more, so you don’t feel the effects on your breathing.

More research is needed in this, which is why this has not been included in medical treatments when it comes to asthma patients. That doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to your diet to improve the amount of selenium you get naturally to see if it can help.

How Can You Avoid Selenium Deficiencies?

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Now that you know eight of the big signs, you can start looking at ways to avoid having a selenium deficiency completely. If you don’t have another medical issue that can compromise the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, you will want to focus on a healthy and balanced diet. Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but it really is the best way to get good amounts of selenium and many other vitamins and minerals.

High amounts of selenium are especially found in nuts, specifically Brazil nuts. Just two will give you the recommended daily intake. They are full of protein and healthy fatty goodness. If you are allergic to nuts, don’t worry. There are many other food options available.

Tuna, cod, eggs, and liver have all been found full of selenium. This makes sense when you consider the type of food they are and the signs of deficiency. Tuna and cod are often recommended to help with the brain health, due to the amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Eggs have large amounts of good cholesterol to help protect the blood vessels and heart, while liver has a large amount of iron and other nutrients to help with the oxygenated blood passing through the body.

Most seafood is actually a good source of selenium, whether you prefer prawns or salmon. You can also get it from grass-fed animals, chicken, and turkey. That paleo diet is one of the best options to help you get enough selenium in your diet. We recommend selenium veg capsules for the best results.

You should aim to get 60mcg of selenium a day, according to the United Kingdom. The United States says 55mcg is the recommended amount. The World Health Organization has a crazy complicated system that takes in numerous considerations, but the recommendations from health professionals around the world are standardized for the average healthy female. If you are immune-compromised or struggle with absorbing nutrients, your doctor will be able to help you get the right amount.

The higher amount recommended by the United Kingdom is not going to do you any harm. However, you can eat too much, so try not to go over by much more!

Are You Ready to Make the Changes?

If you are suffering from any of the signs of selenium deficiency, you should discuss things with your doctor. This is especially the case if you find the first signs mentioned—linked to hair and nails. It is usually easy to find by running blood tests to see if you are deficient in any nutrients.

Making changes to your diet will help avoid a deficiency. It’s time to start following a balanced diet that involves more foods with protein in it. If you don’t want to eat meat, then just two Brazil nuts a day will give you your intake for the day!

8 Responses
  • Aaron Trey
    April 17, 2017

    “To be more exact, selenium isn’t the antioxidant. It’s a protein that helps to create an essential antioxidant.”

    Selenium is an element…. like carbon and oxygen and iron… Not a protein.

  • Morty
    October 7, 2017

    Hypothyroid people don’t gain weight because they eat more. Maybe some do, but a hypothyroid condition, especially something like high reverse T3, causes the body to immediately store everything it can. Not to mention the other hormones (estrogen dominance, excess cortisol etc.) involved in most hypothyroid conditions that cause strange weight issues. Hypothyroid can cause weight gain and even a few pounds can cause imbalances in estrogen, progesterone etc. leading to more weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.

  • Stephen
    November 5, 2017

    Brazil nuts also contain Barium and Radium which is linked to gastroenteritis, muscular paralysis, potassium deficiency, decreased pulse, ventricular fibrillation, arrhythmias.

    • tara
      November 15, 2017

      Brazil nuts also contain Barium and Radium which is linked to gastroenteritis, muscular paralysis, potassium deficiency, decreased pulse, ventricular fibrillation, arrhythmias.

      Do brazil nuts help are cause the listed aliments?

    • Angela
      November 26, 2017

      Yeah. Please explain 🙂

  • Amanda
    December 20, 2017

    Selenium is a mineral.
    I highly doubt your MD will test for any nutrient deficiencies. I live in a selenium deficient state and have never been checked.
    Being a descendant in a selenium deficient state selenium supplementation will not work -it’s now genetic- unless combined with cistus tea or oil depending on what organ pr tissue isn’t using the selenium correctly.

  • E Jones
    January 1, 2018

    Selenium is not by Any means whatsoever a protein. It’s a mineral. This article lost all credit claiming its a protein. The rest isn’t that bad but this error should be fixed so as to not spread blatant misinformation.

  • Lacto-Ovo
    January 8, 2018

    The earth’s atmosphere probably contains traces of barium and radium in minute amounts. . . Two or even three Brazil nuts are likely to do more good than harm, barring an allergy. . . . Until health improves, eat organic eggs, if you’re not allergic; you’ll get protein from the white, plus selenium and vitamins E, D, and K, among others, from the yolk. . . . Cider vinegar, protease and lipase may assist in the digestion of the above. . . .

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