How To Spot Selenium Deficiency And Why It’s Important

Woman has fallen asleep at her desk

Constant tiredness, brain fog and difficulty concentrating could be due to more than just age-related wear and tear.

Lots of things start to slow down as we get older, including our body’s ability to maintain its level of get up and go.

If your tiredness and fatigue has become more of a permanent feature and is coupled with brain fog and difficulty concentrating, it could be something else.

As humans, our bodies need certain levels of vitamins, essential trace minerals and enzymes to keep our vital organs and functions ticking along. When one of them is in decline, it can have a knock-on effect on the whole system.

Lower levels put us at risk

Without adequate selenium, our bodies can’t make the proteins needed to maintain good health and immunity.

In fact, new research suggests that selenium deficiency can put us at greater risk of contracting viruses such as Covid-19 and developing potential long-term complications such as heart or lung damage.

Selenium is an essential trace mineral and antioxidant which is important for good overall health and mental and physical energy.

It’s normally found in the soil, and should be present in our food. But naturally occurring levels have decreased significantly over the years – that’s why it’s often dubbed ‘the world’s rarest mineral’.

The richest natural food sources according to Healthline are Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna and, perhaps surprisingly, ham.

Roast ham studded with cloves, two slices cut. Ham is a good source of selenium

Picture: Alamy

A link with Ebola, AIDS… and Coronavirus

Ebola, MERS, SARS, AIDS and Corona are all viruses which have become more virulent in areas and countries in which levels of selenium in the soil are very low. Because these levels are so low, selenium hasn’t been able to get into the food chain and offer immunity or protection.

Without selenium in the food chain, we humans can’t make the protective selenium compounds otherwise naturally produced by the body.

There are 25 selenoproteins needed to keep your body in good health. If you aren’t getting enough selenium, you could be deficient.

Symptoms of selenium deficiency

Businesswoman rubbing her tired eyes

Pic: iStockphoto

Some of the typical signs of selenium deficiency include:

  • Constant tiredness and fatigue
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  • Lowered immunity
  • Hair loss
  • Reproductive problems
  • Underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism)

The best way to prevent or reverse selenium deficiency is to take a supplement which will enable you to make the optimum amount of the 25 essential selenium proteins.

Two of these in particular (Thioredoxin reductase selenium and Glutathione peroxidase selenium) are known to help inhibit viruses becoming more virulent. They also protect the heart and kidneys from damage by virus attack.

And another thing…

But that’s only part of the solution. Selenium needs co-enzyme Q10 to do its job effectively.

Co-enzyme Q10 is made naturally in our liver. It’s found in each of our 30 trillion cells. In each cell, there are up to 5000 mitochondria –  little sausage- shaped bodies – in which Q10 joins with the food we eat and oxygen we breathe to make energy.

Together, selenium and co-enzyme Q10 work synergistically to stop us getting ill and can help us survive if we do.

However, our livers make much lower levels of this energy-providing enzyme as we get older. And, of course, the heart and other major organs (liver, spleen, lungs, pancreas, kidneys and muscles) all use large amounts of Q10 to create energy.

All downhill after 20! But supplements can help

The body’s ability to produce co-enzyme Q10 peaks at around the age of 20 and tapers off after that. So it’s important to take selenium and co-enzyme Q10 supplements.

Selenium and co-enzyme Q10 supplements can be bought from independent health stores nationwide. Many are still open and offering essential services.