Selenium and Your Immune System

(c) 2011, Written by Will Blesch & guest blogger, Sharen Scott 

Taking Selenium (Se) supplements in the correct amounts has proven to be beneficial in enhancing the body’s immune system and fighting off cancer. This is especially the case in people who have a relatively low amount of selenium in their bodies to begin with, and then who begin to either eat food containing the element, or that take supplements containing it.

Due to its cancer fighting properties, Selenium has garnered considerable attention from researchers all over the world.

So what is Selenium?

Selenium is a trace mineral with antioxidant properties that are essential in maintaining overall good health and in improving the immune system. Selenium is necessary in trace amounts in order to keep the body healthy and free from diseases such as Keshan disease, Keshin Beck Disease, Diabetes, White muscle disease etc. It has also been found to reduce free radicals which are responsible for causing cellular damage, and may even cause cancer and heart disease.

Due to its antiviral and immune boosting properties, Selenium assists the body in countering attacking pathogens. In studies, it has especially been shown to fight viral diseases such as herpes and performed well in tests against HIV and AIDS.

According to a study published by the Journal of Nutrition, one source of Selenium in daily nutrition can be found in the milk of cows, goats, and in human breast milk. The levels of Selenium are highest in goat’s milk, followed by human breast milk, and then cow’s milk. The best source however comes from vegetables.

The amount of Selenium in food depends on the concentration of the element in the soil in which it is grown. For example, researchers know that soils found in northern Nebraska and the Dakotas have very high levels of Selenium. People living in those regions generally have the highest selenium intake in the United States.

Besides plants and vegetables, Selenium can also be found in some meats and seafood. Again high or low level of Selenium inside an animal is due to the Selenium concentration in the area where those animals feed. Some nuts, such as Brazil nuts, also serve as a good source of Selenium.

Deficiency of Selenium and remedies

Selenium deficiency does not cause illness in itself but it can make the body more vulnerable to several other nutritional, biochemical or infectious illnesses. Deficiency of Selenium may also cause Hypothyroidism and weaken the immune system. Moreover, its deficiency may lead to fatigue and muscular weakness. On the other hand, an overdose of Selenium can also result in serious consequences such as depression, vomiting and fatigue, loss of hair, nervousness etc.

According to dieticians and doctors across the world, 70mcg for men and 55mcg for women is the recommended dose of Selenium if a selenium deficiency is diagnosed. Selenium supplements come in different forms such as tablets, capsules etc. The ingredient can also be found in the antiviral supplements, Gene-Eden for Safer Sex, and the regular Gene-Eden dietary supplement.

Selenium is a vital mineral for our bodies without which our immune system cannot remain healthy. If you can’t get the required amount of Selenium in your diet, you can always begin taking supplements.

You should remember that supplements need to be taken as per your doctor’s instructions so that you don’t accidentally overdose.


Debski B, Picciano MF, Milner JA. “Selenium content and distribution of human, cow and goat milk.” The Journal of Nutrition, June, 1987

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