Selenium is an essential trace element that is important in proper immune system functioning and in free radical control. Selenium enhances the immune system and protects against heart weakness and degeneration. It is crucial for optimal health and detoxification. Selenium is required for the production of thyroid hormones. Researchers are finding that selenium deficiency may be involved in many important diseases, including HIV. The fact that this mineral has been the subject of irresponsible promotion as a cure-all must not blind us to the real possibilities that proper supplementation may have value in disease prevention and treatment. When proper selenium balance is achieved, the risk of getting cancer is half that of a person who is selenium deficient. Selenium is an integral part of antioxidant enzymes that studies show aid in cancer and other disease control. Selenium enhances the function of lymphocytes-white blood cells, which are responsible for the body's resistance to disease. Selenium binds with many toxic minerals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury and facilitates their excretion from the body. By detoxifying per oxidized fats, selenium inhibits their carcinogenicity (cancer promoting traits). Selenium also counteracts many of the toxic effects of smoking tobacco. Smoking depletes the body's selenium supplies. In the liver this mineral retards the conversion of hydrocarbons into carcinogens an important function in our polluted environment.
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