Our bodies need a complex balance of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients to function at their optimal level. This delicate nutritional environment often requires small amounts of trace minerals like selenium, which plays an important role in several bodily processes, including your digestive system.
What Is Selenium?
Selenium is one of the most important nutrients for bodily health. In fact, it plays a key role in various bodily systems, including thyroid hormone metabolism, infection protection, DNA synthesis, and more. Luckily, your body normally stores plenty of selenium across various tissues, such as skeletal muscles. It’s recommended that adults get the right amount of selenium to avoid deficiency: about 55 µg of selenium per day. Pregnant or lactating women should get between 60 and 70 µg of selenium per day, as well.
Meanwhile, people who are deficient in selenium may experience several negative symptoms, including nausea or vomiting, headaches, seizures, and more. Selenium deficiency is very rare, but it is associated with chronic conditions such as Keshan disease and Kashin-Beck disease. In general, selenium deficiency only appears in areas where the mineral’s soil or water content has historically been very low.
Selenium Gut Health Benefits
While selenium plays a major role in several bodily processes, it may also directly benefit gut health. The human gut (the intestinal and digestive tract) is home to a microbiome of helpful bacteria. They assist with the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients and take up space to prevent potentially harmful bacteria from colonizing our bodies.
Selenium is thought to directly affect gut health through its effects on the microbiome.
Improved Microbiome Environment
The microbiome environment can be described as the balance between acids, fluids, and cellular life in your intestinal tract. The environment dictates what type of bacteria grow and how likely those bacteria are to survive in the long term.
Generally, we want healthy bacteria to take up space in our intestine to bolster your functionality, to improve your immune system, and even to improve mental health. Because of this, getting enough selenium is important to ensure that your microbiome’s environment is as attractive to healthy bacteria as possible.
Reduced Chance of Cancer-Vulnerable Cells
When your body doesn’t have enough selenium, your gut may eventually become host to a type of gut microbiota that is highly susceptible to cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular issues, thyroid dysfunctions, and more. Because of this, selenium deficiency may lead to digestive or other problems.
Reduced Intestinal Irritation
In addition to its other benefits, selenium may benefit gut health by reducing intestinal irritation. Intestinal irritation may be due to various factors or causes, including invading bacteria, immune system issues, or other bodily problems.
Selenium may assist if you have ongoing or chronic intestinal irritation, or it may help your intestinal tract resettle or stabilize after a period of instability.
Balance Microbial Flora
Lastly, selenium may help balance microbial flora by making it more likely for positive bacteria to grow and less likely for potentially harmful bacteria to grow in their place. A balanced gut microbiome is key for a healthy digestive system overall, which is why it’s a vital part of gut health as well.
A balanced gut microbiome will also affect how susceptible you are to eating unhealthy foods. Some evidence suggests that your gut microbiome changes with your diet. For instance, if you eat primarily unhealthy foods, bacteria that specialize in digesting those foods will become more numerous. This may, over time, make you more likely to eat unhealthy foods.
Selenium can help rebalance your gut microbiome and ensure that healthy bacteria outnumber unhealthy bacteria. While this won't help you lose weight directly, it could benefit any weight loss efforts, such as maintaining a good diet or exercising regularly.
How To Get Selenium
Fortunately for humans, selenium is found in trace amounts in various foods, ranging from seafood to meats to Brazil nuts and more. Selenium content depends on the mineral concentration in natural soil or water.
Selenium may be found in a wide range of popular foods. These include:
Brazil nuts, which are some of the highest foods in selenium overall
Bread and cereal products
Beans and lentils
Turkey and beef
While selenium deficiency is unlikely, if you suspect your gut has issues, speak to a dietitian. They may determine whether a selenium deficiency is at the root of the problem.
You may also get selenium through certain oral selenium supplements. Just keep in mind that oral supplements, like foods, may lose some of their nutritional content through the digestive process.
Alternatively, you may get selenium through certain IV treatments. IV drips provided by wellness centers like Vit&Drip Center provide your body with the nutrients it needs directly to the bloodstream.
This is advantageous because it skips the digestive system, meaning some of the nutrients won’t be acidified or dissolved when they reach your intestines. You’ll also receive selenium and other nutrients more rapidly than you would if those nutrients had to go all the way through your intestines before absorption.
Selenium is a vital nutrient, and it’s perhaps most crucial for your gut health, especially when it comes to long-term microbiome composition.
If you want your gut’s bacteria to be comprised of healthy, helpful bacteria, you’ll want to make sure you never experience selenium deficiency. Luckily, you can get selenium from your foods, supplements, and IV drip infusions.
Contact us today if you want to try IV therapy yourself or have more questions about the process.