Selenium is nothing less than an 'essential', which is to say vital, trace element which is not produced by our bodies and therefore must regularly be ingested via our food. Selenium was discovered in 1817 by the Swede Jöns Jakob Berzelius; however, it was not until the mid-70s that the natural presence of selenium in the human organism (10-15 mg) was proven.
Selenium is a component of the earth's crust and is the 60th most common element there. 1 kg of earth matter is required to extract 0.09 mg of selenium, which has approximately the same scarcity as gold in the earth. In the natural world above the earth's crust, selenium is much more common and can be found in almost all bodies of water, rocks and soils. Named after the Greek moon goddess 'Selene' because of its silvery sheen, selenium was discovered for technological needs long before its enormous benefit for our health became apparent.
Selenium is used in photo technology, ceramics production, the glass industry, the steel industry and in other sectors. The discoverer of selenium himself, Jöns Jakob Berzelius, pointed out multiple times that selenium could be poisonous in certain quantities. This assumption, and observations of the poisoning of cattle which grazed on land with an enormously strong presence of selenium, initially led to enormous scepticism regarding the new trace element. Selenium was considered 'poisonous' and there was therefore no interest in impartial medical investigation into the substance.
This situation changed drastically when analysis showed that there were far more regions in the world with a selenium deficit than a selenium surplus and it was also revealed that people and animals were healthier and more energetic in the regions with a slight selenium surplus, while people and animals in selenium-poor regions were less healthy and suffered from more illnesses. In fact, numerous studies have shown that the number of people suffering from cancer, circulatory diseases and other civilisation diseases is dramatically higher especially in selenium-poor regions, while in selenium-rich regions, on the other hand, the people remain healthy and energetic and also reach an above-average age!
The scientists Schwarz and Foltz were able to demonstrate in 1957 that selenium is essential for the human organism, i.e. necessary for life. Selenium is a component of numerous important enzymes in our bodies and thus integrated into crucial physiological processes in the body. Gradually, further important tasks in the body were ascribed to selenium—this research continues to this day but has already revealed highly exciting insights and makes selenium a crucially important substance in the prevention and treatment of numerous diseases. Learn about these exciting details in the following pages, for example: that selenium strongly inhibits the emergence of cancer, heart attack and arthritis and has extended life by 175 % in animal studies. Be amazed at what selenium, as a true all-rounder, is capable of doing for your health, too.
Did you know that...
· ... selenium is an 'essential' trace element, which is to say that it is necessary for life and must be consumed through our diet?
· ... selenium is an important component of enzymes which are responsible for the activation of numerous hormones and metabolic functions?
· ...we are constantly surrounded by innumerable toxins and that selenium, as a component of protective enzymes, plays a crucial role in the detoxification of the body?
· ...our bodily cells are attacked around 10,000 times per day by free radicals (caused by UV rays, environmental toxins, diet, stress, cigarettes), which makes us sick and causes us to age early?
· ... selenium, as a potent antioxidant, repels these voracious free radicals?
· ... selenium protects us from stress caused by UV rays and radiation?
· ... circulatory diseases are the Number One cause of death, but that selenium helps prevent these and can positively influence pre-existing cardiovascular disease?
· ... cancer is the second most common cause of death and that selenium has been successfully used as a supplementary treatment for decades by complementary oncologists?
· ... selenium can enhance the positive effects of chemotherapy for cancer by a factor of 10 and can relieve the side effects?
· ... selenium optimises the effects of radiation therapy and limits the side effects?
· ...as a consequence, where the soil is low in selenium, a conspicuously large number of people die of diseases like heart attack and cancer and in those places where the soil is rich in selenium, people grow old while remaining energetic and cancer-free?
· ... selenium, in combination with vitamin E, has been able to increase life expectancy by 175 %?
· ... selenium strengthens our immune systems and counteracts infections, and can thereby resist countless illnesses?
· ...our depleted soils are no longer able to provide the required amount of selenium in our diets, as defined by all medical professionals?
Effects of selenium
Selenium, as an essential trace element, looks after essential tasks in our bodies and is an important component of enzymes that are responsible for the activation of numerous hormones and metabolic functions via the liver, the kidneys and the thyroid.
General effects of selenium on our bodies
- protects the circulatory system
- lowers blood pressure
- detoxifying (heavy metals like lead, cadmium, amalgam, mercury)
- antitumoural (prevents development of cancer)
- supports the programmed cell death of deformed and abnormal cells
- supports the repair mechanisms of damaged DNA (genes)
- immune-modulating (strengthens the immune system)
- UV ray protection
- protection against radioactive rays
- aids sperm maturation
- protection against allergens
Selenium's effect on the cardiovascular system
Selenium protects against the agglomeration of blood platelets and has a positive influence on our blood vessels. As a potent antioxidant, it protects the heart muscle cells from damage from various metabolic products and normalises excessively high blood pressure.
Our heart also possesses a so-called 'autonomous electrical conduction system', its own stimulation system which ensures that the heart continues beating even outside of the body. The sinus nodes function as a kind of pacemaker and send 60-80 electromagnetic impulses per minute to the heart muscle, which then contracts accordingly.
Selenium supports nerve stimulation in the area of the sinus nodes. On the other hand, selenium, with its metalloid properties, lowers electrical resistance, which generally optimises the control of all impulses in the body within the nerve pathways, including the electromagnetic impulses of the sinus nodes in the heart muscle.
Antioxidant effect of the selenium enzyme 'glutathione peroxidase' on our bodies
As a highly potent antioxidant, the selenium enzyme named 'glutathione peroxidase' protects our bodily cells against the attacks of free radicals which attack our approximately 37,2 trillion body cells about 10,000 times per day and thus lead to numerous illnesses and premature ageing (including cancer). These voracious little particles emerge due to, among other reasons, environmental stress, diet and in our own normal metabolic processes.
The selenium enzyme 'glutathione peroxidase' transforms the attack-happy free radicals into harmless derivates and can thus protect our cells from something even worse!
Detoxifying effect of selenium
As a component of important protective enzymes, selenium plays an important role in the detoxification of the body. It binds toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium, heavily present in automobile exhaust, and forms defensive mechanisms against the destructive effects of zinc, mercury, tin, arsenic and cobalt as well as amalgam in tooth fillings.
In addition, selenium encourages the breakdown of harmful substances in the body and has a strengthening effect on the liver, which, as we know, functions as the detoxifying organ per se in our bodies.
Anti-inflammatory effect of selenium
Selenium minimises the production of cytokines and prostanoids, which are considered the precursors of inflammatory reactions. It also supports the immune system in its struggle against intruders (bacteria, viruses, etc.) and thus renders the use of inflammatory substances for their elimination unnecessary. Selenium also protects healthy body cells against the free radicals that emerge in the process of inflammation.
Antitumoural effect of selenium
The antitumoural effect of selenium is highly diverse and can primarily be attributed to the following mechanisms:
- Selenium boosts the immune system. In this process, the NK cells (natural killer cells) which attack the tumour cells are activated and produce antibodies more intensively.
- Selenium decreases the number of surface molecules on the cancer cells and 'marks' these for the NK cells, which discover and destroy cancer cells.
- Selenium inhibits the growth of tumour cells via direct interference in their metabolism.
- Selenium neutralises cell toxins.
- Selenium neutralises the attacking free radicals.
- The cells that have already been attacked are repaired.
- Selenium protects the body from deformed cells.
- Selenium supports the programmed cell death of deformed cells (apoptosis).
- Selenium inhibits chromosome damage.
- Selenium neutralises cancer-causing substances (carcinogens).
- Carcinogenic metabolic toxins are buffered by selenium.
- Selenium activates certain enzymes which take on repair mechanisms on the genes.
- Selenium protects against radiation.
- Because selenium plays a very special role in cancer in particular, this topic is given its own section 'Selenium and its effect on cancer'.