selenium

If you want to look years younger, there’s an anti-aging secret out there that can do the trick: selenium. It’s a trace mineral that contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells by minimizing oxidative stress and preventing the production and spreading of free radical damage—cellular damage is one of the leading causes of aging.

Because selenium functions as an antioxidant in the body, it works in several different ways to help you feel and look younger. Here are five reasons to start paying more attention to the antioxidant powers of this anti-aging secret:

1. Cancer

Because of its antioxidant properties, selenium is believed to help fight cancer. Free radical cell damage is a common factor that contributes to the development and progression of cancer cells. Since the antioxidants in selenium fight against free radicals and prevent degenerative cell damage, it’s believed that they inadvertently help to prevent the development of various cancers. The antioxidant properties of selenium are thought to kill off pre-cancer cells before they’re able to replicate and spread.

In addition to preventing the development of cancer, the antioxidants in selenium have also been shown to slow the progression of the disease in patients who have already been diagnosed and can even reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy treatment when it’s taken in combination with vitamins A and E.

2. Cardiac Care

The antioxidants in selenium can prevent heart disease by reducing the stickiness of the blood. This improved blood texture reduces the risk of clotting, which in turn lowers the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Selenium also helps to moderate healthy cholesterol levels in the body.

A selenium deficiency has been shown to make atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries, worse, and can even contribute to heart failure. However, studies have shown that taking additional selenium supplements doesn’t necessarily affect the progression of heart disease in individuals who are already getting adequate amounts of the antioxidant.

This Mineral Beats Aging Skin, Cancer, and Heart Disease

3. Anti-Aging Skin Care

When it comes to your skin, one of the most common causes of aging is sun damage. The antioxidants in selenium, especially when combined with vitamins C and E, can protect the skin against harmful UV rays. The antioxidants increase the rate at which your skin naturally repairs itself, therefore halting further damage. The antioxidant mineral can also help maintain your skin’s elasticity, which we tend to naturally lose as we get older.

4. Eye Health

Macular degeneration and cataracts are two conditions that can impact eye health as we get older. Selenium’s antioxidants encourage the absorption of vitamin E, and this process helps to prevent the development of these two conditions.

5. Immune Function

Immune system function generally tends to decline with age, but selenium’s antioxidants can boost the body’s immunity by strengthening the thymus gland, which is what controls the immune system, and white blood cell function. Your white blood cells are what fight off illnesses and infections, so the stronger they are, the healthier you’ll be.

Getting Antioxidant-Rich Selenium in Your Anti-Aging Diet

Our bodies don’t produce selenium naturally, but you can obtain the antioxidants through your anti-aging diet. There are lots of good food sources for selenium, including Brazil nuts (one of the best sources), sunflower seeds, wheat germ, eggs, tuna, shellfish, meat and poultry, and grains.

Adults usually need around 55 mcg of this antioxidant-rich mineral, which is easy to get from your anti-aging diet. Keep in mind that too much selenium (over 200 mcg) can be dangerous. If you’re getting enough of the antioxidant in your anti-aging diet, which a lot of people do, then you don’t need to worry about taking any supplements.

Sources:
Black, A., “The mineral selenium proves itself as powerful anti-cancer medicine,” Natural News web site, January 4, 2006; http://www.naturalnews.com/016446_selenium_nutrition.html.
Roemer, M., “7 Vitamins That’ll Make You Look Younger,” TotalBeauty.com, June 24, 2010; http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/age-fighting-vitamins/p60842/page7.
Marat, J., “Selenium – Anti-aging supplement,” Health Tips web site, January 4, 2013; http://health.tipsdiscover.com/selenium-anti-aging-supplement/.
Murray, M.T., “Selenium,” Alive web site, June 2004; http://www.alive.com/articles/view/18268/selenium.
Pittman, G., “Study finds no heart benefits from selenium,” Reuters web site, February 1, 2013; http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/01/us-study-finds-no-heart-benefits-from-se-idUSBRE91017G20130201.
“Selenium,” University of Maryland Medical Center web site; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/selenium, last accessed January 23, 2014.
Stibich, M., “Selenium, Cancer and Longevity,” About.com Healthy Aging web site; http://longevity.about.com/od/researchandmedicine/a/selenium_risk.htm, last accessed January 23, 2014.
Watson, S., “Skin Care Vitamins and Antioxidants,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/beauty-skin-care-vitamins-antioxidants, last accessed January 23, 2014.