Selenium and Zinc

Selenium and Zinc

The following definitions are provided by the US National Cancer Institute

Selenium
A mineral that is needed by the body to stay healthy. It is being studied in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancer. Selenium is a type of antioxidant.

Zinc oxide
A compound that may enhance immune function, especially when administered by inhalation.
Zinc sulfate
A substance required for cell growth and tissue repair. It is being studied as a way to prevent or decrease mucositis caused by radiation therapy.

This study says:
Both aging and undernutrition influence immune function in humans. The effects appear to be cumulative, but it has been suggested that the role of nutrition is more important than age in the elderly population. Of all the nutrients involved in immunocompetence, selenium and zinc are the two trace elements that have been most frequently investigated in older adults. Selenium’s role in immune function, as well as cancer prevention, is related to its physiologic requirement as an active component in various enzymes… Zinc’s role is attributed to a decline in both antibody and cell-mediated responses, both of which have been reversed by supplemental zinc at physiologic levels.

Suboptimal zinc or selenium status can reduce resistance to infectious diseases, as well as the onset of numerous other health problems such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.


The following information is published on the UK National Health Service website:

Selenium

Good sources of selenium include:

  • brazil nuts
  • fish
  • meat
  • eggs

How much selenium do I need?
The amount of selenium you need is:

0.075mg a day for men (19 to 64 years)

0.06mg a day for women (19 to 64 years)

If you eat meat, fish or nuts, you should be able to get all the selenium you need from your daily diet.

What happens if I take too much selenium?
Too much selenium causes selenosis, a condition that, in its mildest form, can lead to loss of hair, skin and nails.

What does the Department of Health advise?
You should be able to get all the selenium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet that includes meat, fish or nuts.

If you take selenium supplements, it’s important not to take too much as this could be harmful.
Taking 0.35mg or less a day of selenium supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

Zinc

Good sources of zinc include:

  • meat
  • shellfish
  • dairy foods – such as cheese
  • bread
  • cereal products – such as wheatgerm

How much zinc do I need?
The amount of zinc you need is about:

  • 9.5mg a day for men (aged 19 to 64 years)
  • 7mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the zinc you need from your daily diet.

What happens if I take too much zinc?
Taking high doses of zinc reduces the amount of copper the body can absorb. This can lead to anaemia and weakening of the bones.

What does the Department of Health advise?
You should be able to get all the zinc you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take zinc supplements, don’t take too much as this could be harmful. Don’t take more than 25mg of zinc supplements a day unless advised to by a doctor.

 

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