I have a Ziploc bag of Brazil nuts sitting on my kitchen windowsill next to my family’s vitamins. Why do these inconspicuous nuts take such a prominent place in the kitchen? Why aren’t they tucked away in the pantry with the rest of the nuts?
Brazil nuts are, by far, the best source of selenium, supplying roughly 100 mcg of selenium per nut (this amount varies depending on the soil the nuts are grown in). Selenium is a mineral the human body requires in small amounts. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 55 mcg day, but many experts recommend for optimal health we consume closer to 200 mcg a day of selenium. Despite the fact that selenium is found in an abundance of foods, most of us don’t get this much selenium without being intentional about it.
- Selenium is necessary for thyroid function. The body needs selenium to convert T4 thyroid hormone into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3. It’s also been found that adequate selenium can decrease the concentration of anti-thyroid anti-bodies. This is particularly important for those who are struggling with autoimmune hypothyroidism. Some doctors hypothesize that when certain individuals repair a selenium deficit, they may actually be able to reverse their hypothyroidism.
- It’s been widely documented that selenium improves immunity. The immune system is a complex beast, and as such researchers aren’t totally sure about all of the processes behind this. We do know that selenium is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals from the body. Free radicals are metabolic byproducts in our body which can lead to cancer and poor immune function if not removed. Selenium also works in concert with other important vitamins. It boosts the effectiveness of another antioxidant, vitamin C. It also works with vitamin E to decrease inflammation in the body.
- Selenium can help to prevent and possibly even fight cancer. It’s the antioxidant properties of selenium that boost our immune system, that helps the body fight cancer.
- Fertility, particularly in men, can be enhanced when adequate selenium ingested. A lack of selenium has been associated with sperm which can not move properly. Studies have shown that some men who suffer from infertility and are deficient in selenium, respond well to selenium supplementation.
So, to answer my questions from above: I keep Brazil nuts on my kitchen window sill next to my vitamins in order to remind me to eat my daily Brazil nut and give one to each of my family members, too. I’d much prefer to supply the nutrients that my family and I need via a natural food source (like Brazil nuts) than through a pill. In addition to focusing on a whole foods diet, trying to avoiding processed foods, as well as sugar, and wheat, we eat one Brazil nut a day.