Frank Horwill



  • These articles were first published many year's ago and whilst some are as relevant today as they were when new, many are now mostly of historical interest as modern research and coaching methods have superseded them.

Twelve Things you should know about Selenium

By Frank Horwill

  1. Selenium is a trace element mineral. It has been associated with heart disease, cancer and a number of other complaints when the body becomes deficient of the mineral.
  2. Its function in man is as a component of an enzyme which protects cells against oxidative damage. Oxygen, although vital to our existence, can produce toxic substances, such as peroxide, superoxide, hydroxyl radicals, and "excited state oxygen." Selenium is therefore described as an anti-oxidant and an anti-ageing mineral. It promotes normal growth and development. Alcoholism = Deficiency.
  3. Selenium is found in bran, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chicken, egg yolk, garlic, kidney, liver, milk, mushrooms, onions, seafood, tuna, wheat germ, and whole-grain products. Selenium and vitamin E work together, thus a deficiency of one will affect the other.
  4. We do not make minerals in our body, we must get them from the soil. In ten states in the USA, selenium was found to be absent from the soil. On the other hand, one of the symptoms of overdosing with the mineral is loss of hair. The Colgan Institute of Sports Nutrition puts the athletes’ requirements between 200 and 400mcg. The most easily absorbed type is Selenomethionine.
  5. There is evidence that selenium can boost immunity when working with vitamin E. When animals were deprived of these two ingredients the Tlymphocytes rapidly declined. These cells play an important part in the fight against infection.
  6. Unproved speculated benefits include:
    • Removes age spots when rubbed on skin.
    • Increases fertility.
    • Acts as an aphrodisiac,
    • Controls dandruff when applied to the scalp
    • Cures arthritis.
  7. There is evidence that selenium taken in an inorganic form may decrease the absorption of vitamin C.
  8. Eating seafood could improve your mood/training zip. Why? Seafood is extra high in selenium. Psychologists David Benton and Richard Cook, at the University of Swansea, recently documented people’s eating habits and noted that those who ate the least selenium-containing foods were the most anxious, depressed and tired. In a controlled study, 50 healthy men and women, aged 14 to 74, took either 100mcg of selenium daily or a placebo for five weeks. After six months they switched to the opposite pill. The selenium in their diet was measured. Throughout, they were given tests to judge their moods - whether they were more composed or anxious, agreeable or hostile, elated or depressed, confident or unsure, energetic or tired and clearheaded or confused. The surprising results were that mood improved markedly when the subjects got enough selenium. Further, the greater their previous selenium lack, the greater their lift in mood.
  9. A nut a day keeps the blues away. The Brazil nut is the richest of all foods in selenium, and eating a single nut a day will guarantee you are never deficient, says Dr. Donald J. Lisk, director of Cornell University’s Toxic Chemical laboratory. He found that Brazil nuts are grown in seleniumrich soil providing a super high content of the mineral, about 2,500 times more than other nuts. Eating half a dozen nuts rapidly boosts blood selenium levels by 100350 per cent. The taking of selenium in supplementary form is both expensive and unnecessary provided the foods listed are eaten on a regular basis.
  10. Training strenuously damages (possibly) membranes which are repaired by Glutathione Peroxidase. Selenium provides this in the amounts listed.
  11. There is no evidence that selenium is an ergogenic aid.
  12. A deficiency will affect performance – for the worse.