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Facts about Selenium

Chandramita Bora Mar 7, 2019
Selenium, a non-metallic element found in a small amount in the human body, is an important nutrient required for carrying out several biochemical processes within the body. Find out some interesting facts about this element by going through this post.
Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, and atomic mass 78.96 amu, and it belongs to the sulfur group of non-metallic elements. It is represented by the chemical symbol Se.
The word selenium is derived from the Greek word selene, which means 'moon'. It was Jöns Jacob Berzelius who discovered this element in 1817. It occurs in several different forms, of which the crystalline hexagonal form is the most stable form.

Properties of Selenium

Since selenium is a non-metallic element, it is not a very good conductor of heat and electricity. However, it demonstrates photovoltaic action (it can produce electricity when exposed to light).
It is a photoconductive substance, i.e., its electrical conductivity changes when it absorbs electromagnetic radiation or light. The resistance to flow of electricity in a photoconductive substance decreases with an increase in illumination.
Selenium has several important applications, both in the industrial and medical sector. It is commonly used in TV cameras, photographic equipment, and in xerography or electrophotography.
It is also used in the glass industry to produce red-colored glass, and remove the color of a glass. It is widely used in a rectifier, which is an electrical device that can convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). It has also found applications as an additive in the production of stainless steel.
This non-metallic element is known for its medicinal uses. Like vitamin E, it is an antioxidant, and is required as a trace mineral by animals, including humans. It is found to be effective in the treatment of heart disease.
It is required in the human body for producing an important antioxidant, known as glutathione peroxidase. This antioxidant can prevent the oxidation of cells and tissues by the free radicals.
It also assists the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells. However, selenium is required only in its elementary form, and many of its compounds are toxic or poisonous.
It has the ability to detoxify the body from toxic metals like mercury and arsenic. Due to its antioxidant properties, it can slow down the process of aging, and maintain elasticity of the tissues. It can prevent viral replication and thus, help control viral infections.
It is believed to be effective in slowing down the progression of HIV/AIDS. This trace mineral also has anti-inflammatory properties, and therefore, it can be used to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
People suffering from selenium deficiency are at an increased risk of experiencing and developing asthma, cataracts, enlargement of the heart, sterility, herpes, arthritis, muscular weakness, and a weakened immune system.
Moreover, its deficiency can increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Some important dietary sources of this important element are, lobsters, oysters, tuna, mackerel, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, mushrooms, broccoli, oatmeal, garlic, and sesame seeds.
Supplements of selenium are also available in the market. However, it should be kept in mind that the body requires this element in very small or trace amounts. A large amount of selenium can be toxic, and it may cause nerve damage, hair loss, weakness, liver damage, nervousness, nausea, and stomach and nail problems.