Hair Loss And Growth

The Truth About Selenium

by Raychel Agramon, April 16, 2021

The Truth About Selenium

Hair loss can be caused by stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and certain disorders. Fortunately, this unfortunate event may be abated with the intake of certain vitamins and minerals. One of the more popular supplements that could be taken for hair health is Selenium, a trace element that brings many benefits to the body.

What is Selenium? 

Selenium is a mineral that is essential for human health. It is found in many food sources, such as brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, halibut, sardines, ham, shrimp, and macaroni, to name a few. 

Selenium is an antioxidant, a substance that can help remove damaging free radicals from the body. Because of this property – and others more – selenium can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, thyroid disease, and cognitive decline. 

Selenium for Hair Health

Hair loss is a major concern among men and women alike. According to a Huffington Post report, 85% of men – and 40% of women – will experience some form of hair loss by age 50. 

While it’s normal to shed as much as 100 hairs per day, you may have a problem when you go above that. That’s where selenium comes in. 

  • Various forms of Selenium may help boost hair growth.
  • Certain kinds of proteins are necessary for hair growth. One is cysteine, an amino acid that forms part of the hair. This protein determines the thickness (diameter) of the hair – as well as its growth rate. With that being said, a deficiency in cysteine can make the hair grow thinner – and slower. 

    To enjoy these benefits of cysteine, a selenium supplement in the form of selenocysteine may be taken. Since it is similar to cysteine, it may help foster hair growth. It may actually be even better than ‘just cysteine’ because it also contains selenium, a mineral that’s necessary for hair health as well. 

    Another protein that may help improve hair growth is methionine. It can help nourish the hair, all the while protecting it from pollution and other harmful substances. It can also help slow the aging process that may lead to graying and hair loss. 

    While it’s good to have methionine supplementation in the body, it’s better to have selenomethionine, a similar product that contains selenium. It may even be more potent because it contains both methionine and selenium, substances that can help boost hair growth. 

  • Selenium may help decrease hair loss in people undergoing therapy.
  • Chemotherapy, while effective, is unable to distinguish the cancerous cells from the healthy ones. As such, it unknowingly attacks rapidly-dividing cells in the body (such as that of the hair), thereby resulting in hair loss. 

    Hair loss during chemotherapy can be distressing, but this may be reduced with selenium supplementation. Such results were seen in the study of Krzysztof and Talerczyk. The authors prescribed women undergoing chemotherapy with selenium supplementation. Results showed that those who received the said mineral reported a lesser amount of hair loss during chemotherapy.

    • Selenium may help improve thyroid health – and minimize the hair loss that comes with thyroid disorders. 

    As has been mentioned, medical conditions – such as thyroid disorders – can bring about hair loss. Hyperthyroidism, marked by high levels of thyroid hormones, can lead to dry, thin, and brittle hair. On the other hand, the low thyroid levels seen in Hypothyroidism can bring about hair loss.

    Selenium may just be able to prevent this. After all, it plays a crucial role in the organ’s health, as it is found in high amounts in the thyroid. As such, a decrease in selenium levels may bring about the above-mentioned conditions. With that being said, selenium supplementation is vital for people at risk of developing thyroid disorders – so that they may be relieved of hair loss and other unpleasant symptoms. 

    • Selenium, an antioxidant, may help strengthen the hair strands. 

    As an antioxidant, selenium may help protect the hair from substances that can make it weak and brittle. According to a study by Fernandez et al., antioxidants such as selenium may help strengthen the hair, which can make it less prone to breakage and hair fall. As if that’s not good enough, selenium supplementation may help make the hair shinier and more vibrant as well. 

    • Selenium may help boost hair color.

    Are you concerned about your discolored hair? While dyeing your locks seems to be a plausible plan, there’s a healthier and better way to regain your natural hair color – and that is to incorporate selenium into your daily diet. 

    Such was established in a study of infants who suffered from selenium deficiency. After supplementation, the children’s hairs – which were previously light – became a darker brown color. 

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    Selenium Dosing

    While selenium intake is necessary for hair health, excessive doses – above 400 mcg – may lead to the opposite effect: hair loss. Such was the case in a mislabeled dietary supplement that contained 200 times more than its advertised selenium content. A study has shown that 72% of the unfortunate consumers reported hair loss, apart from diarrhea, fatigue, and joint pain, to name a few. 

    With that being said, it is best to follow the National Institute of Health’s recommended dietary allowance for Selenium, which is 55 mcg per day. The amount may be increased to 60 mcg for pregnant women, to as much as 70 mcg for breastfeeding mothers. 

    While selenium can easily be obtained by consuming the food products mentioned above, you can also get the needed amount via supplements. They are available in syrup, tablet, and capsule forms.

    It’s important to know that selenium supplements come in a variety of forms. There’s selenomethionine, 90% of which can be better absorbed by the body. There’s also sodium selenite, but only 50% of this can be absorbed by the body. With that being said, if you want to get the most of your supplements, then it’s best to go for a supplement that contains selenomethionine.  

    With the facts gathered above, selenium may be a good driving force behind better hair growth. Not only does it strengthen the strands, it may help improve hair color and shine as well. Given its many beneficial effects on the hair (and other parts of the body as well), selenium should be an integral part of your daily supplementation.