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4 Signs of Selenium Deficiency

Nov 10, 2011

Individuals with an interest in promoting good nutritional health and avoiding nutrition-related illnesses may want to look at how to identify a selenium deficiency. This kind of knowledge can help consumers practice good health through an adequate diet.

What Is Selenium?

Selenium is an element on the periodic table and a naturally occurring substance. A basic mineral, it is found in many foods, and contributes to the general balanced diet that promotes overall health in humans. Although selenium is toxic if taken in excess, a moderate amount is necessary for the overall health of most individuals.

What Is a Selenium Deficiency?

A selenium deficiency is not common in normal, healthy individuals. In some rare cases, a lack of adequate sources of this element will cause significant health risks. One main cause of a selenium deficiency is caused by eating food grown in soils without sufficient selenium. Other individuals can be at risk for a selenium deficiency as a result of some intestinal disorders.

Symptoms of a Selenium Deficiency

There are a few major signs that an individual may be suffering from a selenium deficiency. Looking out for these warning signs can help catch a range of conditions before they worsen.

1. General Fatigue

A lack of energy, while not an easily diagnosable symptom, can be caused by a selenium deficiency. Uncommon weariness, lethargy, or a general inability to perform basic physical tasks can be a warning sign of a lack of this and other nutrients in the body.

2. Hypothyroidism

A selenium deficiency can also impact the thyroid and lead to hypothyroidism, which in turn causes the sufferer to exhibit symptoms including heart palpitations, emotional disturbance, moisture on the skin, sensitivity to light and many more secondary effects.

3. Mental Fatigue

This is another very general symptom that can be traced back to a selenium deficiency, as well as many other causes. Individuals will sometimes figure out that they are ill when this symptom presents itself, but it is often hard to pinpoint a diagnosis.

4. Reproductive Disorders

In some cases, a selenium deficiency can cause a woman to miscarry. One of the secondary symptoms of hypothyroidism mentioned above also includes changes in menstruation.

Pediatric Risks

Selenium deficiency can also impact a pediatric patient in a specially harmful ways. Medical experts refer to Keshan disease, which can be caused by  a selenium deficiency, and leads to a specific heart condition where a weakening of the heart impacts general health. Parents and guardians can generally use panel tests to establish whether a child is getting the right range of vitamins and minerals in their diet.

Talk to medical professionals about any possible signs and symptoms of a selenium deficiency, or how to monitor vitamin health at home to prevent this kind of health risk. Qualified doctors may prescribe a certain kind of test to establish nutritional health, and in some cases, may suggest a supplement for those who are not getting an adequate source of any particular vitamin or mineral.

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