Adequate Selenium Levels Necessary for Eye Health

selinium - brazil nutsTo remain healthy, the human body requires a number of trace elements that must be obtained through diet. Selenium is one of these essential nutrients that is necessary for your body to function properly and that has also been shown to impact eye health.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant in the body and also aids in the absorption of other micronutrients, vitamin E in particular. It is necessary for proper thyroid and immune system functioning and may help prevent problems associated with aging, heart disease, and cancer. With respect to eye health, one of selenium’s most important contributions is the promotion of vitamin E absorption. The AREDS study, a large-scale, long-term research project that examined the role of micronutrients on age-related eye diseases, indicated that vitamin E reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Selenium has also been shown to slow the progression of eye symptoms related to Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid.

For diabetics, selenium might prove to be vital to preventing diabetic retinopathy. Preliminary research into this condition revealed that a selenium supplement could enhance the thioredoxin system and prevent it from going awry; thus reducing the possibility of developing retinopathy. Further research is needed to determine whether this might be an effective way to prevent retinopathy in patients with diabetes. Also keep in mind research that shows a correlation between dry eyes and diabetes. Eye exams for diabetic patients tend to focus on retinal health but corneal health should also be taken into consideration to ensure corneal surface issues receive attention as well.

The recommended dietary allowance of selenium for adults is 55 micrograms per day. While supplementation is typically not recommended except when prescribed and monitored by a health-care provider, here are some selenium-rich foods you can choose to ensure that your diet contains selenium:

  • Brazil nuts (up to 544 micrograms per ounce)
  • Tuna (92 micrograms per 3 ounces)
  • Halibut (47 micrograms per 3 ounces)
  • Cottage cheese—1 percent (20 micrograms per 1 cup)
  • Turkey (31 micrograms per 3 ounces)
  • Beef steak (33 micrograms per 3 ounces)
  • Ham (42 micrograms per 3 ounces)
  • Frozen spinach (11 micrograms per cup)
  • Whole-wheat bread (13 micrograms per slice)
  • Oatmeal (13 micrograms per cup)
  • Baked beans (13 micrograms per cup)

As with any supplement use or significant changes in diet, please consult your health-care provider to make sure there are no adverse impacts to your health condition or contraindications with prescribed medications. Although overdoses of selenium are rare, significant side effects can result with overuse for long periods of time.