Is selenium good for the immune system?

selenium & immune system

Selenium is vital for a good immune system, as it has powerful antioxidant properties. It fights inflammation and oxidative stress. Also, selenium is necessary for the mechanisms that kill invading pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Also, selenium enhances the immune system to protect us from certain cancers, immune-related diseases, allergies, or asthma!

How much selenium per day?

The daily recommended intake of selenium is 55 mcg for women and men. Pregnant women need 60 mcg and lactating women need 70 mcg of selenium, respectively.[1]

Why is selenium necessary for a good immune system?

High selenium levels are necessary for every aspect of the immune system. For instance, selenium is involved in the proper function of selenoproteins, neutrophils, macrophages, NK cells, T lymphocytes and many other immune mechanisms. Actually, selenium is a potent antioxidant.

Moreover, selenium can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which can lead to many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Most noteworthy, selenium is vital for the proper function of selenoproteins. Selenoproteins are powerful antioxidant compounds. They reduce oxidative stress and protect the body from inflammations. Additionally, these antioxidants regulate thyroid, increase male fertility, promote wound healing & skin health, and have a key role in muscle regeneration! The major selenoprotein is glutathione peroxidase, known as GPX.[2,3]

Selenium deficiency can inhibit the proper function of the immune system, causing inflammation, and even immune-related diseases.[4]

Furthermore, selenium boosts the immune system, as it can kill invading pathogenic bacteria and fungi, remove viruses and destruct neoplastic cells which grow more than they should or don’t die when they should. These cells can lead to cancer.

Actually, higher levels of selenium may provide greater protection against viruses. Selenium supplements seem to elevate antiviral immunity.[5]

Additionally, selenium is vital for a good immune system, as it significantly affects the function of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that protects us from infections. They’re the first line of defense when we experience a bacterial infection. Neutrophils produce superoxide-derived radicals to kill microbes. But, these radicals are dangerous for neutrophils themselves. High levels of selenium can protect neutrophils and kill pathogens!

Moreover, we need adequate amounts of selenium for the proper function of thyroid. For instance, selenium deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism. In this condition the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. Most noteworthy, hypothyroidism has adverse effects on the immune function! It makes neutrophils less efficient.

Finally, high selenium intake may reduce cancer risk, help with allergies, and asthma.[6]

Foods rich in selenium

High intake of selenium from food is essential for an optimum immune response.

Seafood and meat are good sources of selenium. Cereals, eggs, and dairy contain moderate amounts of selenium, as well.

But, Brazil nuts are the richest food in selenium. Actually, a Brazil nut contains 68-91 mcg of selenium. More than the recommended daily intake!

Do I need selenium supplements for a good immune system?

It seems that selenium supplementation above the recommended levels enhances the immune system and makes it more resistance to viral infections, such as influenza A.[7]

Moreover, high selenium levels are particularly beneficial for the elderly and for people who want to lose weight!

Daily doses up to 400 mcg are considered pretty safe! Certainly, you should consult your doctor for the ideal dose of selenium for optimum immune system.