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Snapper, baked (3 ounces) 148 Sunflower seeds (% cup) 25

Halibut, baked (3 ounces) 113 Granola (1 cup) 23

Salmon, baked (3 ounces) 70 Ground beef (3 ounces) 22

Scallops, steamed (3 ounces) 70 Chicken, baked (3 ounces) 17

Clams, steamed (20) 52 Bread, whole wheat (1 slice) 16

Molasses, blackstrap 25 Milk, 2% (1 cup) 6 (2 tablespoons)

What Does Selenium Do in the Body?

Selenium is absorbed well from our digestive tract. Therefore, absorption may not be the primary site of body selenium regulation. Selenium is a necessary component of a couple of enzymes with the following functions:

  • Antioxidant protection—As part of the enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, selenium helps protect cells from free radical damage. Glutathione peroxidase inactivates free-radical substances such as hydrogen peroxide and organic peroxides. Glutathione peroxidase is a water-soluble molecule, its antioxidant activities will usually take place in the watery portion of the cells rather than in and around cell membranes like vitamin E. However, the peroxides that glutathione peroxidase inactivate typically travel to and assault cell membranes. In fact, selenium and vitamin E have co-protective function against oxidative damage to cells.
  • Thyroid hormone activity—Selenium also appears to be incorporated into an enzyme (deiodinase) that is involved in iodide metabolism. This function of selenium is still unclear and scientists are currently engaged in trying to understand its function better. It appears that this selenium-containing enzyme helps convert the less potent form of thyroid hormone, thyroxine (T4), to the more active form, triiodothyronine (T3), in certain organs.

What Happens If We Get Too Little Selenium?

Mild selenium deficiency can reduce antioxidant capabilities as well as compromise efficient thyroid hormone action. Meanwhile, extreme selenium deficiency has been determined to be the cause of Keshan disease. The major medical problem associated with Keshan disease is an enlargement and abnormal functioning of the heart and eventual heart failure. The disease was observed in discrete regions of Asia where the selenium content of the soil is extremely low. The people within this region relied exclusively on crops and livestock grown in that area for food yet both of these food sources had very low selenium contents. Keshan disease is preventable with selenium supplementation.

Can We Get Too Much Selenium?

Selenium intakes greater than 750 micrograms/day over time can produce toxic alterations such as hair and nail loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and a hindrance of proper protein manufacturing. Selenium toxicity is rare and seems likely only with excessive supplementation.

Manganese (Mn)

What Is Manganese?

Similar to zinc, manganese is also involved in the proper functioning of numerous enzymes. However, manganese still struggles for recognition.

What Foods Provide Manganese?

Whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, tea, and leafy vegetables are good food sources of manganese. Animal foods are generally poor contributors of manganese. Additional substances in plants, such as fiber, phytate, and oxalate along with excessive calcium, phosphorus, and iron, can decrease manganese absorption.

What Are Current Recommendations for Manganese Intake?

The AI for manganese is 1.8 and 2.3 milligrams for adult women and men daily. However during pregnancy and lactation the AI increases to 2.0 and 2.6 milligrams daily.

What Does Manganese Do in the Body?

Manganese is involved with several general functions in the cells. First, manganese can interact with specific enzymes to increase their activity. These manganese-activated enzymes are involved in many operations, including protein digestion and the making of glucose from certain amino acids and lactate (gluconeogenesis). Second, manganese is a component of many enzymes. These enzymes are engaged in many activities including urea formation, glucose formation, and antioxidation. Lastly, manganese may be involved in the activity of some hormones.

What Happens If Too Little Manganese Is Consumed?

Manganese deficiency in humans is rare. However, nausea, vomiting, dermatitis, decreased growth of hair and nails, and changes in hair color can result from a deficiency. Manganese toxicity is also rare, although miners inhaling manganese-rich dust can experience Parkinson's-like symptoms.

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