Why should I test my selenium levels?
Selenium enters our food via the soil. But in Europe, there has been less and less selenium in the soil for some time, which affects the selenium content of our food. Experts therefore assume that many people do not consume enough selenium.
As with other minerals, however, it is quite possible to cause selenium poisoning through an overdose. Therefore, a test is advisable before you turn to food supplements.
A blood test such as the cerascreen Mineral Deficiency Test helps you to check your selenium levels. With the test result, you can then look at changing your diet or taking supplements.
The test also reveals the concentration of magnesium and zinc in your blood.
Who should do the test?
It is worthwhile for many people to check their blood for a possible deficiency. It is not always possible to get enough selenium through our diets, and the symptoms of a deficiency are usually difficult to identify.
A selenium deficiency test is particularly useful if you belong to one of the risk groups:
- People with an alcohol addiction
- People with chronic bowel conditions
- Women who breastfeed for a very long time
- Vegetarians and vegans
How does the test work?
For the Mineral Deficiency Test, take a small blood sample from your fingertip using a lancet. Send the sample in a tube by return envelope to a specialised diagnostic laboratory.
The diagnostic laboratory then analyses the concentration of the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc in your blood.
What does my results report tell me?
The detailed result report contains the measured values retrieved from the laboratory analysis.
You will learn how high the concentration of the mineral selenium is in your blood. The value is measured in micrograms per litre (μg/l).
You will also learn how much magnesium in milligrams per litre (mg/l) and zinc in in millimoles per litre (mmol/l) were detected in your blood.
You will receive reference values – that is, ranges defined by the laboratories within which your mineral concentrations should ideally be.
The report also provides you with valuable information on selenium, selenium deficiency and the other minerals. You will learn how to optimise your diet and supplement intake to improve your mineral levels through clear recommendations.
What is selenium?
Selenium is an essential mineral. This means that we have to take selenium with our food because we need it to carry out important functions in our bodies. There are usually 13 to 30 milligrams of selenium stored in the body, much of it in the muscles and thyroid gland.
Processes in the body in which selenium is involved include:
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Production of thyroid hormones (together with iodine)
- Function of the nervous system
- Sperm production
- Binding and elimination of heavy metals such as lead
What causes a selenium deficiency?
A selenium deficiency most often affects people whose body’s absorption of the mineral is impaired. This can be caused, for example, by chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Other diseases that significantly increase the need for selenium include cystic fibrosis and kidney diseases that require long-term dialysis.
Vegetarians and vegans, for example, should also pay attention to their selenium levels. Because of poor selenium concentration in the soil these days, plant-based foods often contain an insufficient amount of the mineral. Animal products, on the other hand, often contain a lot of selenium because animal feed is enriched with it. However, low selenium levels can also occur in a balanced diet of animal products.
What are the symptoms of a selenium deficiency?
Selenium has functions in very different places in the body. Therefore, a deficiency can also manifest with different symptoms:
muscle weakness and joint pain
weakened immune system
depressive moods and anxiety
disorders of the thyroid gland, liver and heart muscle
Which foods contain selenium?
Selenium is found in many different plant-based foods and animal products. However, selenium content varies greatly from one food to the next, as it depends on how selenium-rich the soils are in the regions where they are obtained.
Larger amounts of selenium are found mainly in animal products – for example in tuna, mackerel, pork liver, eggs and Emmental cheese.
The selenium content in coconuts and Brazil nuts has long been considered particularly high. In some cases, a single Brazil nut is said to be able to cover the entire daily requirement of selenium. Today, however, we know that the selenium content in Brazil nuts can vary greatly. Brazil nuts are also often contaminated with radioactivity – you should not consume more than two Brazil nuts a day.
What leads to selenium poisoning?
Not only can your body get too little selenium, it can also get too much. Selenium poisoning (also called selenosis) usually occurs when people repeatedly take in too much of the mineral over a long period of time.
The cause is often selenium supplements that are taken even though there is already enough selenium present in the body. As a rule, selenium excess is not achieved through food.
Possible symptoms of selenium poisoning are:
Gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, diarrhoea).
Fatigue, irritability and memory problems
Changes in the nails, sometimes even loss of nails
For whom is the test not suitable?
The Mineral Deficiency Test is not suitable for or is only suitable for certain groups of people:
People with contagious diseases, like hepatitis, are not allowed to take the Mineral Deficiency Test.
breastfeeding women should only carry out the Mineral Deficiency Test under medical supervision. The reference values and recommendations do not apply to them, so they should obtain recommendations on the test result from their doctor.
The Mineral Deficiency Test is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
The test is not intended for diagnosing diseases. For example, if you experience severe depression or acute pain, you should consult a doctor.