By: Tiffany Vance-Huffman
It’s kind of mind-boggling to me that every time I start digging into fibromyalgia, I come across another possible cause, trigger, or deficiency. And sometimes it turns out to be a chicken and egg scenario where it’s not clear which came first: the fibro or the so-called trigger (or…fill in the blank). That seems to be the case with my newest discovery that fibromyalgia is linked to a selenium deficiency. According to a lab that specializes in disease prevention and nutrition testing, “in one trial, symptoms improved in 95% of [fibromyalgia] patients supplemented with selenium for at least 4 weeks.” Whoa! Ninety-five percent of patients saw improvement with selenium supplements? This is huge folks! Do you know how many treatment options seem to just be hit or miss when it comes to fibromyalgia symptoms? Almost all of them.
Of course, I had to find out more. Like, what exactly is selenium anyway? How do you get it? And what does it do? I still don’t know if you have a selenium deficiency first and that leads to fibromyalgia or if it’s the other way around. Nevertheless, I’m going to try this and see how it helps my symptoms. In the meantime, I’ll share what I found with you because, while there’s some great info here, you definitely need to be cautious with this stuff.
What is Selenium, Anyway?
The first thing you need to know is that selenium is an essential trace mineral found in soil. The key word here is “essential” when we think in terms of nutrition. It comes naturally in water, including spring water and some tap water, but not in distilled. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adds that “the major food sources of selenium in the American diet are breads, grains, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.” Other experts get a little more specific by suggesting Brazil nuts, walnuts, tuna fish, cod fish, red snapper, and herring, in addition to the previously mentioned foods. So, if you deal with food allergies or dietary restrictions for any reason, this could be a problem for you. Especially since the amount of selenium found in water is nutritionally insignificant.
Selenium Deficiency Symptoms
So how can you tell if you have a deficiency? Interestingly, being deficient in selenium doesn’t directly cause symptoms. However, it weakens your immune system which makes you more susceptible to illness, even chronically. That’s because selenium prevents cellular damage from free radicals which can lead to chronic diseases, including cancer. Following is a short list of symptoms to watch for:
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle weakness and wasting
- Heart problems
While heart problems are not often associated with fibromyalgia, fatigue and muscle weakness are at the top of the list when it comes to fibro symptoms. And since a selenium deficiency can lower your immune system, it certainly makes sense that a suspected autoimmune disease could be born out of that deficiency. Or perhaps it works in the opposite way, wherein you get fibromyalgia and that somehow depletes your selenium levels. Nevertheless, there are other symptoms, some of which are even more serious, including:
- Mental slowing
- Mental retardation
Proper Dosage Matters!
Okay, so at the very least you understand two things: 1.) selenium is essential to your diet, and 2.) a deficiency can cause serious problems. If you suspect a selenium deficiency, talk to your healthcare practitioner because you canoverdose on this stuff. In fact, an overdose of selenium can cause:
- Bad breath
- Liver, kidney, and heart problems
- Death (in extreme cases)
Furthermore, selenium supplements can have very negative reactions with certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Selenium supplements have been associated with skin cancer as well as a 50% increase in the likelihood of developing type 2 Diabetes. Again, it is important to talk to your doctor before beginning a selenium supplement regimen.
Then just how much should you have in your diet and/or through supplements? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a terrific fact sheet about selenium, including dosage based on gender and age. Variations are included if you are pregnant or lactating. The sheet also contains a table of foods and their corresponding amount of selenium. As a general rule, however, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of selenium for both males and females ages 14+ is 55 mcg (micrograms).
Important note: breast milk, formula, and food should be the only form of selenium intake for infants.
Have you ever tried selenium supplements to help your fibromyalgia symptoms? Did you find it helpful or did it cause problems? We value your input because it helps all of us make informed decisions about how to proceed with various treatment options. So please, tell us your story!
Via- Fibro Treating