Selenium is an essential mineral found in trace amounts in the human body. It works as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E, by scavenging damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. These particles occur naturally in the body but can damage cell membranes, interact with genetic material, and possibly contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of conditions including heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants such as selenium can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. Selenium is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system and for the production of prostaglandins (substances that affect blood pressure and inflammation in the body). Low levels of selenium may worsen atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries which can lead to heart attack and/or stroke) and can lead to premature aging. Selenium deficiencies have also been linked with certain types of cancer.
Many of the benefits of selenium are related to its role in the production of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme is responsible for detoxification in the body. Chronic exposure to environmental toxins, including chemotherapy drugs, radiation and other toxic medicines, increases the requirement for selenium.
You should strongly consider Selenium if you consume alcohol or smoke. There are several reasons for this. Tobacco and alcohol decrease absorption of selenium in the digestive tract.