Nutrition

Selenium Deficiency

What is Selenium Deficiency?

Selenium is a trace mineral needed by the body in small amounts for good health. It is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes. The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals that can cause the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other selenoproteins help regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system.

Selenium deficiency, although rare, occurs when the body does not have enough selenium.

Cause of Selenium Deficiency

Plant foods are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries throughout the world. The content of selenium in food depends on the selenium content of the soil where the plants are grown. Selenium also can be found in some meats and seafood. Animals that eat grains or plants that were grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscles. Bread and some nuts are also common sources of dietary selenium. In general, people in the U.S. have an adequate intake of selenium. Soils in some parts of the world, such as China and Russia, have very low amounts of selenium. Selenium deficiency is often reported in those regions because most food in those areas is grown and eaten locally.

Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency can lead to Keshan disease. The main symptom of Keshan disease is myocardial necrosis, leading to weakening of the heart. Selenium deficiency also contributes to Kashin-Beck disease. Kashin-Beck disease results in atrophy, degeneration, and necrosis of cartilage tissue in the joints. The body also becomes more susceptible to illness caused by other nutritional, biochemical, or infectious diseases.

A selenium deficiency can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism, including extreme fatigue, mental slowing, goiter, mental retardation, and miscarriages.

Diagnosis of Selenium Deficiency

Diagnosis is generally made clinically. High levels of thyroid stimulating hormone are often an indication of selenium and/or iodine deficiency.

Implications of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency may contribute to the development of a form of heart disease, hypothyroidism, and a weakened immune system. There is evidence that selenium deficiency does not usually cause illness by itself. Rather, it can make the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other nutritional, biochemical, or infectious processes. Additionally, selenium deficiency may worsen the effects of iodine deficiency.

Three specific diseases have been associated with selenium deficiency: Keshan Disease, which results in an enlarged heart and poor heart function in selenium-deficient children; Kashin-Beck Disease, which results in osteoarthritis in children; and Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism, which results in mental retardation in infants born to mothers deficient in both selenium and iodine.

Treatment of Selenium Deficiency

The incidence of Keshan disease is closely associated with very low dietary intakes of selenium and poor selenium nutritional status. Selenium supplementation protects people from developing Keshan disease but cannot reverse heart muscle damage once it occurs. There is little evidence that improving selenium nutritional status prevents Kashin-Beck disease.

Food Sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts
  • Canned Tuna
  • Beef
  • Spaghetti w/ meat sauce
  • Cod
  • Turkey
  • Beef chuck roast
  • Chicken breast
  • Enriched pasta
  • Egg
  • Cottage cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • White or brown rice

Chromium Deficient?

 

Chromium

What is chromium and what are some chromium benefits?

Chromium is a metallic element that humans require in very small amounts. It is an essential part of metabolic processes that regulate blood sugar, and helps insulin transport glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy. Chromium also appears to be involved in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Two forms are commonly available as supplements: glucose-tolerance factor (GTF) chromium and chromium picolinate.

Why is chromium necessary?

Chromium enhances the actions of insulin and is necessary for maintaining normal metabolism and storage of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Inadequate intake of chromium has been linked to the development of glucose intolerance, a condition seen in type 2 diabetes. Chromium can also help raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, and may play a role in preventing heart disease.

What are the signs of a chromium deficiency?

An estimated 25-50% of the U.S. population is mildly deficient in chromium, a greater incidence of deficiency than is found in almost any other developed country. The industrialization of the American food supply chain, reflected in very low soil levels of chromium and the loss of chromium from refined foods, especially sugar and flours, probably contributes to this. Dietary chromium has a low absorption rate, which becomes even lower with age, so the elderly are especially at risk. Life threatening clinical deficiency may be rare, but deficiency is common.

Because adequate dietary chromium helps to maintain insulin sensitivity, chromium deficiency can contribute to the development of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Even mild deficiencies of chromium can produce problems in blood sugar metabolism, and contribute to other symptoms such as anxiety or fatigue. Altered cholesterol metabolism, accelerated atherosclerosis, decreased growth in young people and delayed healing time after injuries or surgery can result from chromium deficiency.

How much, and what kind of chromium, does an adult need?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends:

  • males 19-50, 35 mcg per day
  • men over 50, 30 mcg per day
  • females 19-50, 25 mcg per day
  • females over 50, 20 mcg per day
  • pregnant females over 19, 30 mcg per day
  • lactating females over 18, 45 mcg per day

Dr. Weil recommends 200 mcg a day as part of a multi-vitamin multi-mineral, and recommends 1000 mcg of GTF chromium a day for those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

How much chromium does a child need?

According to the NIH:

  • infants 0-6 months, .2 mcg per day
  • babies 7-12 months, 5.5 mcg per day
  • children 1-3 years, 11 mcg per day
  • children 4-8 years, 15 mcg per day
  • young males 9-13, 25 mcg per day
  • young females 9-13, 21 mcg per day
  • teen males 14-18, 35 mcg per day
  • teen females 14-18, 25 mcg per day

How do you get enough chromium from foods?

Raw broccoli in a bowl on rustic background

Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, grape juice, meat and whole-grain products are all excellent sources. Some fruits, vegetables, and spices provide chromium. Romaine lettuce, raw onions and ripe tomatoes are all good sources.

Are there any risks associated with too much chromium?

Researchers have not found any toxic effects that result from taking high doses of chromium.

Are there any other special considerations?

Diabetics taking chromium should do so only under physician’s supervision, as should anyone using prescribed medications for blood sugar control.
The following medications can alter stomach acidity and may reduce chromium absorption or increase excretion of chromium:

  • Antacids
  • Corticosteroids
  • H2 blockers
  • Proton-pump inhibitors

The following, when taken with chromium, may be metabolized more slowly or quickly, or may change the absorption rate of chromium:

  • Vitamin C
  • Niacin
  • Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Insulin
  • Nicotinic acid
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Prostaglandin inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin)

28th October

METABOLIC SYNDROME FOR DUMBELLS

 
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Having just one of these conditions doesn’t mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, any of these conditions increase your risk of serious disease. If more than one of these conditions occur in combination, your risk is even greater.

If you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems.

Most of the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome have no symptoms, although a large waist circumference is a visible sign. If your blood sugar is very high, you might experience signs and symptoms of diabetes — including increased thirst and urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.

When to see a doctor:

If you know you have at least one component of metabolic syndrome, ask your doctor whether you need testing for other components of the syndrome.

CAUSES:

Metabolic syndrome is primarily caused by obesity and inactivity.

Metabolic syndrome is linked to a condition called insulin resistance. Normally, your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into sugar (glucose). Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps sugar enter your cells to be used as fuel.

In people with insulin resistance, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, and glucose can’t enter the cells as easily. As a result, glucose levels in your blood rise despite your body’s attempt to control the glucose by churning out more and more insulin.

This can eventually lead to diabetes when your body is unable to make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose within the normal range.

RISK FACTORS:

The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

  • Age: Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting 40 percent of people over the age of 60.
  • Race: Hispanics and Asians seem to be at greater risk of metabolic syndrome than are people of other races.
  • Obesity: Carrying too much weight increases your risk of metabolic syndrome — particularly if you have an apple shape rather than a pear shape.
  • Diabetes: You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Other diseases: Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you’ve ever had cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or polycystic ovary syndrome.

COMPLICATIONS

Having metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing these conditions:

  • Diabetes: If you don’t make lifestyle changes to control your insulin resistance, your glucose levels will continue to increase. You may develop diabetes as a result of metabolic syndrome.
  • Cardiovascular disease: High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the buildup of plaques in your arteries. These plaques can cause your arteries to narrow and harden, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

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