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March 6, 2024

Does Selenium Help You Fall Asleep?

bowls of food containing selenium

Does Selenium Help You Fall Asleep?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

How much sleep is enough varies from person to person, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night.

While the main cause of insomnia is often related to our mental health, many studies suggest that a lack of certain nutrients may be part of the problem. One of these nutrients is selenium.

What Is Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral, which means that the body only needs a small amount of it. It is found naturally in foods or as a supplement. This mineral is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins, called selenoproteins, that help to make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections.

These proteins are also involved in reproduction and the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Most selenium in the body is stored in muscle tissue, although the thyroid gland holds the highest concentration of selenium due to various selenoproteins that assist with thyroid function.

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Food Sources Of Selenium

The amount of selenium in foods can vary widely depending on the selenium content of the soil in which it is grown. Soil content varies widely by region. Plant foods obtain selenium from soil, which will then affect the amount of selenium in animals eating those plants. Protein foods from animals are generally good sources of selenium.

Seafood, organ meats, and Brazil nuts are the foods highest in selenium although Americans obtain most of their selenium from everyday staples, like breads, cereals, poultry, red meat, and eggs.

  • Brazil nuts
  • Fin fish and shellfish
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Fortified cereals
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Beans, lentils

What Else Can Selenium Do For The Body?

In addition to helping with sleep, selenium has other health properties – it helps in the process of DNA replication, reproduction and thyroid hormone metabolism and protection against infections.

Signs of selenium deficiency include, but are not limited to: hair loss, changes in the shape of the nails and skin, itchy scalp or dandruff, extreme fatigue, “brain fog”, muscle weakness, a weak immune system, as well as fertility problems.

What About Supplements?

Selenium supplements are promoted to offer several benefits, including boosting immune function, improving hair and nail health, and supporting a healthy thyroid. They are sometimes combined with other antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E or C. These supplements usually contain between 100-400 micrograms of selenium per dose (the Tolerable Upper intake Level is 400 micrograms). However, if a person is not at high risk for a deficiency, there is no evidence that taking a higher amount of selenium promotes the health benefits shown on these supplement labels.

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