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The mineral selenium is found in nearly every cell in the body, though the highest concentrations are in the kidneys, liver, testes, pancreas and spleen. It is a potent immune system booster, as well as the activating factor for a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Selenium is a known antioxidant which may protect against cancer, heart attack, stroke, macular degeneration, cold sores, shingles and lupus, as well as many other diseases and effects of aging.


What Selenium Does:

Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect the body by scavenging free radicals that harm cells. It helps activate prostaglandins that are important in regulating blood pressure and dealing with inflammation, and is vital in the production of the enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which helps detoxify the body.


Where Selenium Comes From:

The major source of selenium is in vegetables and fruits, but the amount of selenium in any particular fruit or vegetable is dependent on the selenium content of the soil in which it was grown. Because of this, people who live in areas where the soil has been depleted of its selenium content may require more selenium than they can reasonably consume in whole food sources.


Health Benefits of Selenium:

  • Selenium may help prevent several forms of cancer.

In numerous studies, including clinical trials, observation based studies and population based studies, researchers have concluded that people with higher intakes and blood levels of selenium have a lower incidence of certain types of skin cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

-         In studies undertaken through the 1980s and 1990s in seven dermatology clinics in the U.S., doctors concluded that while taking selenium supplements didn’t reduce the rate of recurrence for skin cancer, it did decrease the occurrence of overall cancers and death. Specifically, those who took selenium supplements showed statistically less incidence of prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer.

-         The early results from two large-scale clinical trials into the effectiveness of vitamin E and selenium against cancer suggest that a combination of the two nutrients in supplement form may be effective in preventing cancer and heart disease.

  • Selenium may lower cholesterol levels.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Selenium is one of a group of antioxidants that may help limit the oxidation of LDL and thereby help to prevent coronary artery disease. A major study underway in France is investigating how effective selenium is alone and taken with vitamin E in preventing coronary disease.

  • Selenium may help relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

Because people with rheumatoid arthritis have low blood levels of selenium and reduced selenium intake, the National Institutes of Health postulates that selenium may help control symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by controlling the levels of free radicals in the blood.

  • Selenium seems to slow the progression of the HIV/AIDS virus.

Because HIV/AIDS often results in malabsorption of some nutrients, it’s not unusual for those who are HIV positive to have low levels of selenium in their blood. Doctors frequently prescribe selenium supplements to combat the depletion and malabsorption that is associated with HIV/AIDS. In at least two separate studies, low levels of selenium were linked with faster disease progression and higher rate of death among AIDS patients. The role that selenium plays in the immune system may be the reason, as researchers believe that low levels of selenium compromise the immune system.

  • Selenium’s antioxidant activity may help slow many age-related and immune system disorders.

In addition to the major studies noted above, there have been a number of smaller studies that indicate that selenium may have a significant effect on the progression of macular degeneration, skin disorders including acne and rosacea, asthma, lupus, pancreatitis and diabetes.


Recommended Daily Intake of Selenium:

The Institutes of Medicine has established a Recommended Dietary Intake for selenium. The RDA is the average daily intake that the Institutes of Medicine believe is sufficient for the nutrition needs of approximately 97% of the population.


  • Children 1-3 years – 20 mcg

  • Children 4-8 years – 30 mcg

  • Children 9-13 years – 40 mcg

  • Males 14-18 – 55 mcg

  • Females 14-18 –  55 mcg

  • Males 19+ - 55 mcg

  • Females 19+ - 55 mcg

  • Males 50+ - 55 mcg

  • Females 50+ - 55 mcg

  • Pregnant females – 60 mcg

  • Lactating females – 70 mcg


The Institute of Medicine has also established upper tolerable intake levels for selenium. Those levels are established for supplements that carry a risk of toxicity at high levels. While selenium toxicity is rare, there is a condition called selenosis that results from excessive levels of selenium in the blood. The established upper levels for selenium are:

  • Children 1-3 y – 90 mcg

  • Children 4- 8 - 150 mcg

  • Children 9-13 – 280 mcg

  • Males 14-18 – 400 mcg

  • Females 14-18 – 400 mcg

  • Males 19+ - 400 mcg

  • Females 19+ - 400 mcg


Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency:

While selenium deficiency is rare in the United States, certain conditions may make it more difficult for the body to absorb selenium. In addition, people in areas where the soil is depleted of selenium may be at risk of selenium deficiency. The symptoms of selenium deficiency include hypothyroidism, a weakened immune system and a form of heart disease. In addition, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, scientists believe that a selenium deficiency can make the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other deficiencies or biological stress.


Selenium Toxicity:

High levels of selenium in the blood can cause a condition known as selenosis, which causes gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, white/blotchy nails, fatigue, irritability, garlicky breath and mild nerve damage. The few reported cases of selenium toxicity in the United States have resulted from industrial accidents and manufacturing errors that resulted in unnaturally high doses of selenium in a supplement. The National Institutes of Medicine has established an upper tolerable intake level of selenium of 450 mcgs per day for adults.


Supplementing with Selenium:

The FDA has stated that most people in the United States can get an adequate amount of selenium through diet; however, selenium levels in food are depended on the selenium in the soil in which the food was grown. In addition, selenium is destroyed when foods are destroyed or processed, which may make selenium less available than is believed. Because a number of chronic diseases, including Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, asthma and arthritis have been associated with low levels of selenium, a daily supplement that contains selenium may help boost the immune system and provide necessary antioxidants to help slow and/or prevent conditions commonly associated with aging.


Selenium is one of 11 essential minerals and over 70 important nutrients included in Total Balance from Xtend-Life natural products. Total Balance is a specially formulated whole health formula that is designed to address all the nutritional needs of the human body. Because they believe that whole nutrition is more than just a collection of ingredients, Xtend-Life chooses all of its ingredients to work together synergistically, basing its formulas on the latest research in medicine, nutrition and manufacturing techniques. Because we believe that nutrition one of the most important factors in determining good health and longevity, we believe that Total Balance from Xtend-Life natural productsis an excellent choice in daily multivitamin supplements.



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