Research has shown that a diet low in selenium could be a key cause of male infertility.
Did you know that a single Brazil nut provides enough selenium to meet the daily requirements for an adult.
Up to a third of men find themselves with a low sperm count, which is defined as having fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen, or with poor sperm quality. Selenium can help correct this problem.
So what exactly is Selenium?
Selenium is a trace element that is a natural ingredient in many foods and readily available as a dietary supplement. It is required by the body daily, but only in very small quantities. Although very little selenium is actually needed by the body, many peoples’ diets are deficient in this key mineral.
It acts to help prevent oxidation (damage) of the sperm cell, which helps to increase the chance of having healthy sperm. Due to its protective qualities, selenium can also prevent chromosome damage which can cause both birth defects and miscarriage
An interesting study analysed men with good sperm counts but low fertilisation rates during IVF treatments. These men were then given selenium and vitamin E supplements each day and one month later their fertility rates increased from 19% to 29%.
Which foods provide us with Selenium?
Brazil nuts are not just high in protein content and packed full of trace minerals, but they also boast the highest dietary source of selenium.
Other good sources of selenium include brown rice wheatgerm, tomatoes, onion, butter, garlic, grains, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, chicken, turkey, shellfish (especially oysters), fish (especially tuna). Selenium levels are enhanced when consumed with vitamin E.
What other benefits does it give the body?
It is vital for the normal functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland and necessary for the repair of DNA. In addition, it improves liver function and maintains healthy skin, hair, and eyesight.
Why is it needed in a woman’s body in relation to fertility?
Selenium is an antioxidant that is important to fertility because it prevents oxidation and DNA damage in the egg.
A low selenium status has been tied to low birth weight babies and preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is important for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland.
What can cause a deficiency of Selenium?
Intestinal problems that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, malnourishment, diets high in processed foods, and those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Another sign of selenium deficiency can be an enlarged heart. Low selenium in soil- cereals are dependent on the amount of selenium in the soil for their selenium content (countries with low selenium soil levels include the UK, Finland, other parts of Europe, New Zealand and China).
What are some of the symptoms of a deficiency?
Reduced fertility, reduced immunity and resistance to infections, inflammation, heart disease, and impaired growth.