selenium

History of Selenium

Selenium, an essential mineral trace element, was discovered by Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1817. Initially known for its toxicity in larger quantities, the role of selenium in human health began to unravel in the mid-twentieth century. Scientists observed areas where the soil was deficient in selenium and linked this deficiency to a higher incidence of diseases.

This led to the recognition of selenium’s role in human nutrition, and further studies led to a better understanding of its functions, particularly in relation to antioxidant enzymes and the immune system.

Scientific Make-up

Selenium is a non-metal element that shares properties with sulphur and tellurium. As a micronutrient, it forms a vital component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism and antioxidant defence systems.

Selenium compounds are generally categorised into inorganic (selenite, selenate) and organic (selenomethionine, selenocysteine) forms. Each type has unique absorption, metabolic and excretory patterns in the human body.

 

Benefits of Selenium

Selenium is crucial for various bodily functions. It helps protect the body against oxidative stress and damage by contributing to the antioxidant activity of enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. This nutrient also supports a healthy immune system and is necessary for thyroid function, playing a crucial role in the production of thyroid hormones.

Additionally, some studies suggest that selenium may have a positive effect on immune response. Selenium also works well in combination with other essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin E and Iodine, by enhancing their respective functions and absorption.

 

Forms of Consumption

Selenium can be consumed through food sources such as Brazil nuts, seafood, and meats, which are all rich in this nutrient. However, due to variability in soil selenium levels, food sources may not always provide a sufficient amount. Therefore, selenium supplements can provide a reliable source.

Selenium supplements can come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquid gels. In addition to traditional delivery methods, newer, more innovative delivery systems such as gummies are also available, offering user-friendly alternatives that cater to different consumer preferences.

 

Safety and Dosages

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of selenium varies according to age and sex. Generally, for adults, an RDA of 55 micrograms per day is suggested. However, like any supplement, taking selenium in excess can lead to adverse effects, including selenosis, a condition characterised by symptoms such as garlic breath odour, hair loss, and fatigue.

The upper intake level for adults is set at 300 micrograms per day. For children, this scales up depending on their age. See below for the upper intake for children.

 

Age (Years)UL (μg selenium/day)
1-360
4-690
7-10130
11-14200
15-17250

 

Use and Legality in UK, EU, US and Globally

Selenium is recognised as a dietary supplement and is legal in many parts of the world, including the UK, EU, US and other global regions. In the UK and EU, selenium supplements must comply with the European Food Safety Authority’s regulations, which includes maintaining safe dosage levels.

Similarly, in the US, the Food and Drug Administration regulates selenium supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Selenium deficiency in some regions, such as parts of China and Russia, has led to the implementation of selenium supplementation and fortification programmes.

With our extensive knowledge and industry expertise, we can guide you through the formulation and manufacturing process, ensuring that your selenium supplements are made to the highest quality and regulatory standards. Contact us today to start your journey in the ever-growing supplement industry.