Take This Mineral to Stop Age-Related Illness
What's in your multivitamin? You may be missing out on a major antiager if it doesn't have this mineral: selenium.
In recent research, even small, hardly noticeable deficiencies in this trace mineral have been linked to a rogues' gallery of age-related maladies, from cancer and heart disease to dementia.
Serious selenium deficiency in the United States is rare. But in a new study, scientists found evidence that slight deficiencies -- so slight they wouldn't have any immediate clinical effect on the body -- could hurt people down the road. It's all due to what the researchers call triage theory.
Emergency Room Theory
According to triage theory, your body is like a busy emergency room -- the most critical systems get attention first. So if you're not consuming enough selenium, the things critical to your survival will be first in line to get fed the mineral. But if you run out of selenium, less critical functions will go without. And although those neglected functions aren't required for you to stay alive right now, they likely have important roles in long-term health. (Related: Meet another multitasking, antiaging mineral.)
Host of Helpers
Those other functions that miss out on selenium when you're running short? They probably have a lot to do with reducing the risk of age-related illnesses. In fact, scientists think they may have already identified at least a handful of those functions -- like healthy brain function and resistance to disease. Basically, scientists suspect that selenium may help run mechanisms that make natural heart-protective, brain-protective, cell-protective, anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
In the United States, selenium deficiency is more common among the elderly and those already in poor health. A supplement is an easy way to ensure you get enough, but if you prefer to get yours the natural way, snack on a couple of brazil nuts. Nutritional content of the nuts can vary, but you can generally expect to get your daily selenium needs from two to four nuts. (Related: Find out the best place to keep your vitamins. And, yes, it makes a difference!)