Number 34 on the periodic table, selenium sits below sulfur and above tellurium and adjacent to iodine. This metalloid is an essential trace element needed by every single cell. An adult human will have on average between 5 and 15 milligrams Se in their body. Individuals in countries like Poland, New Zealand and Germany where there is a geochemical dearth in the soil and forages tend to have lower selenium levels. Deficient dietary intake of selenium is the pathogenesis of diseases like Keshan’s cardiomyopathy prevalent in certain regions of China.
People in the USA, by contrast, have over double to quadruple the amount of Se content because their soils are so selenium-rich.
Organs like thyroid and kidney contain the highest tissue concentrations. Although the brain may not store the highest selenium amounts, it is always preferentially supplied with neuron-important selenium. Many metabolic processes involved in thyroid hormone and bone metabolism, sperm production, prostaglandin synthesis and antioxidation, to name a few, require selenium.
Selenium in numbers:
1817: Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius discovers selenium
1957: Selenium is defined as an essential trace element
1970: The decade science found pathogenetic causes associated with selenium deficiency
1986: Scientists demonstrate that the amino acid selenocysteine incorporates selenium
30,000: Papers published on selenium in PubMed by 2018
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biosyn, the leading GMP manufacturer of sodium selenite for high-dose injections, has just updated its folder on selenium with exciting new facts and figures: