Like many substances found in the human body, selenium is essential to all living cells as it plays an important role in the production of certain enzymes. In fact, these enzymes are in part responsible for the production of antioxidants, which are known to prevent cancer. However, selenium is also very toxic and if presented in the body in larger quantities than the trace amounts that are normal, complications could develop.
Even though selenium is a necessary component of the body, it can be dangerous in high levels. A possible cause of selenium toxicity is the eating of plants grown in soil that is extremely selenium rich. Studies of humans with this condition have not been extensive, however the effects on horses have been seen for hundreds of years in the way the hooves of such horses would begin to slough off. Selenium toxicity is most often found in countries such as China wherein the soil is extremely rich in selenium and the mineral has made its way into the food and water supplies.
Selenium toxicity reacts much differently in humans with a few similarities. Symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Hair loss
- Sloughing off of nails
- Garlic breath
- Mood swings
- Neurological problems
- Pulmonary edema
- Cirrhosis of the liver
As you can see, selenium toxicity can be very serious, especially in cases where the levels of the substance found in a person’s body are extremely high.
Another possible cause of selenium toxicity is an overdose if a person is being treated for a condition wherein the medication contains the substance.
While selenium toxicity can be treated, it is very important that it be caught in its earlier stages. When you begin to have chronic diarrhea or nausea is when you should visit the doctor. Waiting until your nails begin to change and your breath smells of garlic is extremely dangerous and could mean you have experienced irreversible damage. While you can be treated at this stage, if neurological damage has occurred, you may have to suffer with this for the rest of your life.
It is a much wiser idea to prevent selenium toxicity from ever occurring than trying to treat it after damage has already been done. This after the fact sort of attitude we have toward healthcare is not very effective. The best way to treat a condition or disease is to prevent it from occurring to the best of your ability.