Why Is Selenium a Recommended Supplement to Take?

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Currently, I take 200mcg of Selenium a day, after reading about its benefits online, especially for those of us with hypothyroidism.

The recommended dose by many sources is no more than 200mcg a day, such as STTM and Thyroid Pharmacist Izabella Wentz who both also promote taking 200mg a day.

But let’s cover some background on selenium first.

Symptoms of low selenium include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low immunity
  • Poor concentration (brain fog)
  • Fertility/reproductive issues
  • Heart problems
  • And more!

However, selenium is not naturally occurring in the body, but is a trace mineral found in food and soil. It is vital for immune response and thyroid function, including conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3, making it essential for good metabolic function.

Selenium is converted into one of three types of selenoprotein, detailed below:

  • Gluthiaone Peroxidases -Antioxidants.
  • Thioredoxin Reductases- Active in cell structure and growth.
  • Iodothyronine Deiodinases – Responsible for the conversion of T4 to T3.

During times of selenium deficiency, you could have symptoms of brain fog and decreased cognitive functions, as well as lack of energy and blood results that look ‘OK’, even if you feel rubbish, still. You could also have low Free T3.

A lot of hypothyroid patients have trouble converting their T4 to T3, so a lack of the protein iodothyronine Deiodinases, could be making you hypothyroid, still. A sign being that if you’re on T4-only medication, like Levothyroxine or Synthroid, and not feeling any better, especially if your thyroid blood test results look ‘OK’ or you’re low in Free T3, then you could be low or deficient in Iodothyronine Deiodinases, and therefore, selenium. So, selenium can help thyroid hormone conversion.

Research has also shown that it can lower thyroid antibodies, helping to manage Hashimoto’s more effectively.

The National Acadamey of Hypothyroidism wrote;

Another study published in 2002 discussed selenium’s affect on TPO (thyroid peroxidase) antibodies2. The researchers reported that they gave 200mcg of sodium selenite on a daily basis to individuals suffering from Hashimoto’s disease that had high levels of TPO antibodies. After three months, the participants’ levels were redrawn and there was a decrease of the TPO antibody value by 66.4%. Only nine of participants’ levels returned to normal.

And Thyroid Pharmacist Izabella Wentz explains:

While the RDA of selenium may often be found in multivitamin/mineral combinations, that will not be sufficient for TPOAb reduction. Studies have been done to test the minimal dose of selenium for TPO antibody reduction, and that dose was established to be 200 mcg daily, even a 100 mcg dose did not produce a statistically significant TPO antibody reduction. The bioavailability of minerals is very delicate and can be greatly affected by food or the presence of other substances.

However, the NHS recommend 0.06mg a day for women and 0.075mg a day for men and this source says no more than 0.055mg a day, which is more or less in line with NHS recommendations. 

As we don’t yet know the potential risks of long-term supplementation of Selenium, the safest option may be to meet requirements by eating selenium rich foods like: brazil nuts, cod, tuna, mushrooms and meats. Brazil nuts are usually considered the most popular option, with just 2–3 of them a day providing roughly 0.2mg of selenium. But they need to be organic, preferably, and of very good quality, to contain the selenium you require. It can be hard to determine if they contain enough. 

If you do want to supplement, then organic forms of selenium, such as selenium yeast or selenomethionine, are said to be safer and more easily absorbed, and as with most supplements, selenium can have toxic effects when used in excess, so be aware. Symptoms of selenium toxicity include diarrhoea, hair loss and brittle nails.

If in doubt, test your selenium levels before you start supplementing, to ensure you don’t over-do it by taking too much. But I’d suggest that the best way is by making sure you eat a lot of selenium-rich food.

Many members of my Facebook Support Group do do well on 200mcg a day though, and many sources online do say that that is the highest non-toxic dose.

Popular brands include:

Nature’s Way Selenium 200 mcg, 100 Capsules

Selenium 180 Tablets, 200 mcg | VEGAN by Vegavero

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites and has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and also contributed the foreword to Emily Kyle’s The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook.

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