Is It Safe To Take Selenium While Pregnant?

Is it safe to take selenium while pregnant? Here`s a concern that lots of expecting mothers may have and which deserve an answer.

Is It Safe To Take Selenium While Pregnant

Why Is Selenium Important to the Human Body?

Selenium represents a mineral that doesn`t get that much importance most of the time. Its benefits are huge for our body: It cleanses the organism from toxins, prevents the formation of cancer cells and slows down the process of aging.

Selenium is considered a powerful mineral which has a crucial importance when it comes to fighting cancer. This mineral is integrated into proteins in order to produce selenoproteins, meaning antioxidant enzymes. Their antioxidant properties aid in preventing the free radicals` accumulation in the cells. Just as vitamin E, it has the purpose of recycling antioxidants through the organism.

In China, where the esophageal and gastric cancer rate is increasing, the cancer risk has been reduced by 50% after an increased dose of selenium being administered. In various countries that have a high risk of breast and prostate cancer, supplements of selenium have slowed down the growth of carcinogenic tumors.

In conclusion:

  • It prevents the destructive pathogenic action of viruses throughout the human body.
  • It integrates the composition of the enzymes which act on glutathione, protecting the cells from the free radicals` oxidative action; regarding this, it acts similar to vitamin E.
  • It slows the aging process.
  • It supports immunity.
  • It prevents cancer cells from forming.
  • It invigorates the appearance of skin and hair.
  • It cleans the organism from various chemicals like mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
  • It prevents the formation of heart muscle lesions or cataracts.

What Are the Deficiencies of Selenium?

Scientists found that expecting mothers with low mineral levels have a 4 times higher risk of preeclampsia. This medical condition appear in pregnancy and leads to kidney damage, increased blood pressure and decreases blood flow to the placenta, leading to various complications involving pregnancy.

There isn`t much known about how this particular illness begins, but a team of scientists at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, writes in the November number of the American Journal of Obstetricians & Gynecologists that decreasing the levels of selenium in certain countries over the past couple of years, might have contributed to the preeclampsia development. The results of this research found that the selenium level in cereals in the United Kingdom is 10 – 50 times smaller than those used in Canada or the United States, and that the manufactured bread from these cereals doesn`t meet the necessities of consumers regarding the mineral intake.

Is too Much Selenium Bad for You?

In a larger amount than 500 mcg per day, this mineral becomes quite toxic and is very similar to a genuine poison, which may lead to cancer. Metal taste, nausea, hair loss, dizziness and nail fragility are the symptoms experienced due to excessive consumption of selenium.

What Does Selenium Do for the Thyroid?

Letting iodine aside, selenium is perhaps the most essential mineral that affects the function of thyroid. The thyroid consists of more of this mineral by weight than just about any other organ in the body. Our mineral is an important component of the enzymes which remove the molecules of iodine from T4 converting it into T3; without this mineral there would be no thyroid hormone activation. When patients experiencing from various types of thyroid illness were investigated for their levels of selenium, all were discovered to be lower than healthy people. Some specialists believe that supplementation of selenium may improve conversion of T4 to T3. Our mineral also has an actual major role in protecting the thyroid gland. The thyroid`s cells generate hydrogen peroxide, which then use it to produce thyroid hormone. This mineral protects the gland from any oxidative damage that may be caused by these particular reactions. Without proper levels of selenium, high levels of iodine could lead to the destruction of the thyroid`s cells.

What Foods Are Rich in Selenium?

Vegetarian food is the richest selenium available. The selenium content from plants depends quite a lot on the soil from which the plant comes. For instance, experts know that the lands on the high platforms in Nebraska or Dakota have a high content of selenium. On the other hand, specific areas in China or Russia are poorest areas in terms of selenium.

The selenium amount in foods might vary:

Type of Foods Approximated Amounts / Daily Dose
Brazil nuts (29 g) 544 – 780 mcg
White, drained tuna (87 g) 63 – 95 mcg
Cooked beef (104 g) 35 – 50 mcg
Spaghetti sauce (1 serving) 34 – 50 mcg
Cooked cod (87 g) 32 – 45 mcg
Beef steak (87 g) 23 – 35 mcg
Boiled noodles (half a cup) 17 – 25 mcg
An average egg 14 – 20 mcg
Cheese (2% fat) (a half) 12 – 15 mcg
Brown rice (a half of cup) 10 – 15 mcg
Dried nuts (87 g) 5 – 8 mcg
A slice of white bread 4 – 6 mcg


How Much Selenium Do We Need?

The RDA generally includes the entire amount of selenium you need to get from food sources as well as from any other supplements you can take. Most people out there are able to get their recommended dietary allowance of selenium from food sources.

In research, in order to determine if this mineral can help in the prevention of prostate cancer, male subjects took 200 mcg on a daily basis. The upper limit of selenium that is safe is 400 mcg on a daily basis in adults. Anything over this limit is seen as an overdose.

Group RDA
Children with ages of 1 to 3 years 20 mcg/day
Children with ages of 4 to 8 years 30 mcg/day
Children with ages of 9 to 13 years 40 mcg/day
Adults & children of 14+ years 55 mcg/day
Pregnant women 60 mcg/day
Breastfeeding women 70 mcg/day

What Are the Risks of Taking Selenium?

  • Interactions – This mineral might interact with other drugs as well as supplements, like chemotherapy medications, niacin, birth control pills, antacids and corticosteroids.
  • Diabetes – There`s a study which discovered that people who took 200 mcg/day of selenium were around 50% more prone to develop a very serious illness, known as type 2 diabetes. Until now, it isn`t known if our mineral in fact caused this medical condition. However, you should still talk about this risk with your doctor.
  • Side effects – If selenium is taken in normal limits, it doesn`t generally have any side effects. However, an overdose of this particular mineral might lead to fever, nausea and bad breath, but also heart, liver or kidney issues. At very high doses, it may even lead to death.
  • Skin cancer – Supplements that contain selenium are generally associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, so people with an increased risk of developing this disease shouldn`t take these particular supplements.
  • Prostate cancer – There`s a study performed by the National Cancer Institute showing that men with high selenium concentrations in their bodies almost double their risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer if they take supplements that contain this mineral.
Image courtesy of articles.mercola.com

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