What do ‘Kamut rice’, which has recently become a hot topic as a super grain from ancient Egypt, and ‘Brazil nuts’, which are praised as the most perfect fruit on earth, have in common? It is rich in selenium, an antioxidant mineral.
Selenium was stigmatized as a toxic substance when it was first discovered and was forgotten for over 100 years. It was not until the 1970s that it was discovered selenium is an essential component of antioxidant enzymes in the body. Afterwards, research on selenium began in earnest, and in 1978, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognized selenium as an 'essential mineral' that must be consumed, and it earned the honorable nickname of 'the element of miracles, the element of dreams, and the blue light wizard.
Today, we will look at how important selenium plays in the body through various research papers.
Antioxidation is the human body's defense system against free radicals that are constantly produced and attack the human body 'as long as we live and breathe.' The selenium we ingest becomes a component of various antioxidant enzymes in the body, and these enzymes are called selenium-dependent enzymes (selenoenzymes). ‘Glutathione peroxidase (GPx)’, a representative antioxidant enzyme in the human body that protects cell membranes from free radicals, is also a selenium-dependent enzyme.
A review paper published in Environmental health and preventive medicine in 2008 summarizes the antioxidant activity of selenium as follows.
"Selenium-dependent enzymes that have been shown to have strong antioxidant activity include six groups of GPx. (omitted) These GPx protect cells from oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). (omitted) Another essential antioxidant selenium-dependent enzyme is TrxR (thioredoxin reductase), which uses thioredoxin as a substrate to remove harmful hydrogen peroxide, thereby converting the Trx/TrxR system into a reduced state.“
Reference : Tinggi U. (2008). Selenium: its role as antioxidant in human health. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 13(2), 102-108.
Inflammation is essentially the body's natural defense response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens or injuries, and is considered part of the immune system. However, if the mechanisms that cause and suppress inflammation are not precisely controlled, it leads to inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, academics are looking for ways to inhibit the excessive activity of NF-kappaB, called the master switch of inflammation in relation to the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases.
Let's take a look at a review paper published in HORMONE AND METABOLIC RESEARCH in 2009 on the anti-inflammatory mechanism of selenium.
“Selenium can inhibit the activation of NF-kappaB by regulating selenoprotein (selenium-containing protein) gene expression. Additionally, in chronic inflammation, selenium supplements increase the biosynthesis of selenoproteins and inhibit the production of CRP (a marker of acute inflammation and infection), thereby restoring depleted liver and serum selenium levels and alleviating the inflammatory process.”
The thyroid gland is the largest endocrine gland in our body. It produces, stores, and secretes thyroid hormones into the blood. Thyroid hormones play a very important role in promoting the body's metabolic process and maintaining body temperature with the heat generated during this process. But did you know that selenium is essential for the metabolism of these thyroid hormones?
A review paper published in Nutrition & Food Science in 2001 examined the role of selenium in thyroid hormone metabolism and reported as follows.
“ Over the past decade, selenium has become an essential component of the type 1 ioidothyronine 5' deiodinase enzyme, which converts thyroxine (T4) to the more biologically active hormone 3, 5, 3'-triiodothyronine (T3). It was found to be an ingredient.”
Reference : Citation Ünüsan, N. (2001). Selenium and thyroid hormone metabolism. Nutrition & Food Science, 31(2), 91-95.
Today, we looked at selenium's status as an essential nutrient through the very important functions it performs in the body. According to the Korean Nutritional Intake Standards, the recommended daily intake of selenium for adult men and women is about 55 μg, so it is recommended to carefully monitor your eating habits and supplement the right amount when necessary.
I hope you have a healthy day both physically and mentally. This was Jinny.