The trace mineral selenium is present in many sources of protein and carbohydrates. While most Americans get adequate amounts of the nutrient, researchers at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute recently revealed that even a moderate deficiency can have harmful effects on the body.
The scientists found that inadequate levels of selenium cause mechanisms in cells and tissue to protect essential proteins at the expense of seemingly less-important proteins. The loss of these molecules may lead the body to display characteristics similar to those found in patients with cancer, heart disease, immune disorders or cognitive decline.
“This paper should settle any debate about the importance of taking a good, complete multivitamin every day,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor of the FASEB Journal.
Authors of the study said the findings demonstrate how vitamin and mineral deficiency affect the body over a long period of time. Additionally, this kind of research may help individuals to determine their optimal nutrient intake in the future.
Further research will be needed to determine whether other nutrient inadequacies have the same physiological effects as those of selenium deficiency.