Selenium and Vitamin E
Selenium is a trace element found mainly in plants that helps with the immune system, and is particularly helpful in reducing the risk of viral infections and certain cancers.
The body does not need much selenium per day, only about 55 micrograms. However, the amount of selenium in the soil varies geographically. For example, selenium content in the soil of Nebraska and the Dakotas in the United States is relatively high, while on the east coast and Pacific Northwest, including northern California, selenium levels in the soil are quite low.
Low dietary selenium can have adverse effects on the immune system. Studies have shown that cancer mortality is higher in countries with low selenium soil levels than they are in countries with higher soil levels. Not only have low selenium levels been linked to cancer mortality, they have also been linked to the mortality rate from immune diseases, such as HIV.If you live in an area with low selenium levels, you can use a selenium supplement. There are two major inorganic sources of selenium, Sodium selenite and sodium selenate . Of these, sodium selenate is better absorbed, although a good amount of it is expelled in the urine before it is used in the body. Sodium selenite only has a 50% absorption rate, but once absorbed has a better retention rate. Another option is Selenomethionine, an organic form of selenium has an absorption rate of 90%. There is little evidence that one of these supplements is better than any other, though selenite has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in rats and strengthen immune function in humans.
Studies have also shown that selenium and vitamin E compliment each other's functions in the body. Selenium as gluthathione peroxidase promotes vitamin E's antioxidant functions, and can even relieve symptoms of vitamin E deficiency.
Selenium can also be used as a topical ointment to treat scalp and skin infections, such as dandruff or tinea versicolor, a fungal infection of the skin. This type of selenium is called selenium sulfide , and usually comes in a lotion. There are certain precautions to follow when using this. The most severe side effect is skin or scalp irritation. If this occurs, immediately call your doctor immediately.