Selenium- the masked player.

From the decline of the world population to the peak scarce of congenital immune, selenium is the man behind the screen. Yes, this micro-metalloid is the felon and the reason why the world is struggling to overcome a pile of distress, with common accusations on climatic change and global warming. All the imaginative mind will go inquisition on How? But not on Why? Let’s, dive deeper to discover its complexion.

Controversial discovery:
It nearly took 160 years to identify its proper role. While working in the mines producing pyrite, Swedish scientist Berzelius and his team discovered this element and misconstrued it with Tellurium. Yet, his inquisitive nature has made him a tremendous experiment and identified as Selenium. But, it had a controversial statement that Selenium causes myocardial infarction and hepatic steatosis. After 17 years of critical investigation, it has come to the limelight that Selenium is a crucial active center for the thyroid and other biochemical reactions.

Distinctively dispersed element:
Selenium is incoherently scattered worldwide where it embellishes the perfect physiology according to the geographical distribution, i.e., Indians’ cellular metabolism contrived according to their habitat. As the prime source of this element nurtured from plants and not much from water, the sudden soar of climatic changes and global warming in the past few decades made a heavy cast-down in their utilization in humans leading to wreckage in immune and fertile rate.

Distribution of selenium due to climatic changes

The monopoly of metabolisms:
The primary component of selenoprotein is selenium. It acts as a key regulator of two critical enzymes Glutathione peroxidases (GPX) and Thioredoxin reductases (TrxR). Where the chief role of this GPX is to convert toxic peroxides into water and oxygen also this enzyme protects fatty acids, red blood cells against oxidation and protects cellular components such as cell membranes and DNA from the destructive effects of oxidation. where TrxR catalysis the thyroid gland and in general, selenium increases the activity of macrophages and the production of immunoglobulin. It also increases the cytolysis of the so-called NK cells (natural killer). In addition, it slows down the aging process by increasing the flexibility of tissues.

Consequences of its insufficiency:
Selenium deficiency has been implicated in cardiovascular disease, infertility, myodegenerative diseases, and cognitive decline. Mental disorders are indirectly associated with the poor function of TrxR due to malnutrition of selenium, apart from that keshan disease which jeopardized entire China during the 19th century. Selenium is essential for testosterone biosynthesis and the formation and development of normal spermatozoa. That’s why European countries such as Poland and Finland are vulnerably affected by population decline due to poor sperm motility. Similarly, the world’s populous Chinese government has ordered a ‘’three’’ child policy due to a sudden strike in the young generation. Forthwith biofortification action has been taken by Finland and increased the consumption of selenium (125microgram).

Selenium is present in the soil and dictates the concentrations in plant foods. Brazil nuts, seeds, especially young barley seedlings, green vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, and button mushrooms are excellent organic sources of selenium in regions with adequate selenium content in the soil. Animals that consume selenium-containing plant-based foods, especially fish, seafood, beef, and poultry are good sources of selenium from areas with adequate supply. Selenium is most easily absorbed with organic compounds and in the presence of vitamins A, D, and E. Yet, it’s recommended to consume native vegetables and fruits instead of hybrid and foreign varieties.

Did you know? selenium absorption increases with the consumption of vitamin E.

Future research:
Major studies are going on how selenium act as a key nutrient in counteracting the development of virulence and inhibiting HIV progression to AIDS. Also, the role of selenium in cancer treatment is currently under research.





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Aishwarya Parasuraman

Aishwarya Parasuraman

Biochemistry undergrad who is fond of science

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