It is assumed that a part of the population in German-speaking countries is not sufficiently or at least very scarcely supplied with selenium. There is no evidence for the assumption yet, because it still takes until the next consumption study. But it is because our soils are rather selenium-poor in relation to the American ones. The climate crisis can exacerbate this problem even further.
Too little selenium, something has to be done!
That’s why more and more people are resorting to supplements with selenium or consciously taking selenium-rich foods. For people with a vegan diet, these options are strongly recommended.
We need selenium. But what else does the selenium addition do? In other words: What are the selenium side effects? Is there such a thing? Where are you most likely to expect them?
Or is “side effects” more of a term for drama queens? Step after step.
But before it goes to the side effects, here are the desired effects briefly listed, so that you know what a normal effect is:
What do you actually take selenium for? These are the effects you can expect.
In a nutshell in a list:
- Regulation of the thyroid gland
- Contribution to normal spermatogenesis in men
- Function of the immune system
- Antioxidant effect
- Normal functioning of the nervous system
Selenium is good for that. At the same time, side effects can also occur that are not desired. Or?
The side effects of selenium. Drama Queen or rational worry?
The selenium side effects are more on the side of the drama queen. Overall, selenium is quite well tolerated. The problems only occur with abusive intake: If you eat too much. If the overdose is too high, this can also lead to selenium poisoning. The symptoms of mild poisoning would be:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nerve disorders
- Hair loss
- Garlic-like bad breath
There is currently no remedy for selenium poisoning. Of course, the first step is to see a doctor. Usually, however, it is simply necessary to wait until the body has excreted the selenium naturally.
But if you overdo it, it can lead to selenosis – the actual selenium poisoning. Here the symptoms are correspondingly severe:
- Liver damage
- Heart muscle weakness
- Until death
That’s why with selenium as with nutrients in general, but with heavy metals in particular: Pay attention to the dosage and do not permanently consume more than the daily requirement.
It’s very simple: you can share tablets or take a capsule just every other day.
The selenium side effects of the other kind: interactions with other nutrients
The situation is different with the interactions, because selenium uptake can be inhibited by other trace elements.
You should not consume vitamin C at the same time as selenium. The vitamin inhibits the absorption of the trace element and thus you then take selenium for free. A waiting time of two hours is enough here.
If, on the other hand, you have too little vitamin B12,it is currently assumed that you also excrete less selenium, which can be problematic even with slight overdoses.
A lack of vitamin B6, on the other hand, can also cause you a selenium deficiency. Because without vitamin B6 you can not convert the frequently used selenium composition selenomethionine.
Since both iodine and selenium have a strong influence on the thyroid gland, it is advisable to pay attention to the level of both nutrients in thyroid diseases.
It is different with vitamin E,because selenium and vitamin E actually help to protect cell membranes. However, there is currently no indication that a combined intake has a positive effect.
The rule of thumb: Always allow some time to pass between different nutrients. In the morning, at noon or in the evening you can take other supplements. Some nutrients have a positive effect on sleep, others wake you up. Pay attention to the individual effects here. Always inform yourself what they can do.
Here are some well-known examples of medicationsthat can alter selenium levels:
- The cancer drug cisplatin reduces the selenium content in your body.
- Selenium has a positive effect on the effect of the thyroid drug levothyroxine. So here it is time to measure what your selenium level looks like.
- Of course, medications for drainage also promote the excretion of selenium via the kidneys. As a result, your body loses selenium.
- Antacids are tablets for heartburn. They can inhibit selenium absorption.
Some medications used to treat mental illness, called neuroleptics, also negatively affect selenium intake.
However, there are also medications that can lower selenium levels. In the case of chronic diseases, you should pay attention to this and talk to your doctor if you suspect it. These include clozapine, corticoids, diuretics, valproic acid and cytostatics (cisplatin is one of them). Chemotherapy or radiotherapy can also interfere.
In addition, there are other things that can reduce your selenium absorption (absorption) and selenium levels. The above-mentioned cytostatics but also alcohol can cause both.
As they say in England: Drink responsibly. Alcohol is not only harmful here.
Selenium and side effects? Rather interactions, deficiency or overdose
Overall, we can say that there are hardly any selenium side effects. Rather, it is interactions with other substances and medications that you should pay attention to.
If there are indeed “side effects”, they are more likely to be symptoms of selenium deficiency or an excess of selenium – i.e. an overdose. That’s why you should always pay attention to what your selenium level looks like. Your doctor of trust can help you well here.
If you take selenium in the recommended amounts, you hardly need to worry about side effects.