British people could blame the earth underneath their feet for health woes ranging from heart disease to thyroid problems to cancer because British soul has low levels of selenium, a mineral that is crucial for good health. The body makes use of selenium to make selenoproteins, which function similar to antioxidants in preventing damage to cells.
The latest research by the University of East Anglia showed that people who eat large amounts of the mineral, along with vitamins C and E, are sixty-seven percent less prone to develop pancreatic cancer. The rich sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, kidney, liver and fish, but the foods which are larger contributor to your selenium intake are cereals, bread, meat and poultry.
The study conducted by Warwick University’s Horticultural Research Institute, found that although British and northern European soils have been relatively low in selenium since the last ice age, the levels are being further exhausted by intensive modern farming methods and the use of chemical fertilizers. Earlier study has shown that good selenium intake in old age helps improve brain function.
Lead researcher in selenium’s effects, Prof Margaret Rayman, from the University of Surrey, explained sselenium levels in their blood plummeted after the time the government began measuring them in 1974. If you live in the UK, the possibility is you are not grossly deficient, but do have low levels of selenium. In the long-term, the effects of low intakes can be devastating.
She added adding selenium to the diet, either through eating selenium-rich foods or through supplementation is beneficial only if you really need it. However, people should be extremely careful about increasing their intake of selenium because too much of it can be dangerous. The study was published in the Lancet.
A nutrition scientist Claire Williamson from the British Nutrition Foundation, warns more than 0.45 mg a day can trigger a condition called selenosis, which can cause brittle nails and hair, skin lesions and a garlic-like odour on the breath. Prof Rayman advises popping a pill containing no more than one hundred mcg a day of selenium for men and fifty to sixty-five mcg for women if your diet contains few selenium-rich foods.