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Can a Mineral Help You Age Gracefully?
Published: 09/01/2013

September is Healthy Aging Month – look for aging-related Daily Tips throughout September, brought to you by Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging.

According to Bruce Ames, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, when certain vital micronutrients are in short supply, the body undergoes slow, insidious changes that undermine health and increase the risk of chronic disease. 

One such crucial micronutrient is selenium. Dr. Ames and his fellow researchers recently analyzed 25 studies to judge the activity of immune-system components called selenoproteins – which, as the name suggests, contain selenium as an essential component. His conclusion? Even "modest" selenium deficiency appears to be associated with age-related diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease and immune dysfunction. 

Excellent dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts (in fact, these should be eaten only occasionally, as their unusually high levels of this vital mineral could lead to an overdose, according to the National Institutes of Health). Good dietary sources include brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, garlic, grains, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, shellfish, and both fresh and saltwater fish. In supplement form, I recommend an organic form such as yeast-bound selenium or selenomethionine. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 80-200 micrograms.

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