Superhero Selenium Boosts Immunity, Fights Canine Cancer, Prevents Arthritis and More...
By day it is a tiny trace mineral hanging out in many whole foods – like pork, liver, peanut butter, eggs, lamb, oats, beef, sardines, turkey, chicken and chia seeds. By night it fights free-radicals, battles cancer, boosts your dog's natural immune defenses, rescues ailing thyroids, eases arthritis, and more. What is this power-house nutrient? It is Superhero Selenium.
What Is Selenium And Why Do Dogs Need It?
Selenium is an essential trace mineral needed by dogs (and humans) for optimum health. Selenium is a cofactor in the production of antioxidants like glutathione peroxidase – the mother of free-radical scavengers.
Think of free-radicals as molecular-level baddies. They are weaponized with an unpaired electron – much like a ray gun – that they can shoot at innocent bystanders (nearby stable molecules) turning them into baddies and spreading cellular damage. Free radicals behave kind of like Agent Smith in the Matrix. Glutathione is an Avenger in this scenario (we’re mixing movies here). She stabilizes free radical Agent Smith preventing further destruction.
Not enough selenium in the diet hamstrings Glutathione and therefore enables Agent Smith to take over Metropolis (your body) in the form of inflammation and sickness. (Okay, enough of the movie metaphors.)
Cancer Prevention And Treatment
Selenium’s function in the body’s overall immune process indicates its usefulness in preventing cancer and inhibiting its progression. According to John Boik’s book Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy, at least 35 in-vitro studies have reported that selenium produces cytotoxic effects on a variety of cancer cell lines, and at least 20 studies in animals have reported selenium’s anti-tumor effects. Human and animal trials also have reported selenium may reduce cancer risk, and some epidemiologic studies associate low dietary selenium intake with higher cancer risk.
Selenium is also needed for proper thyroid function. An imbalanced thyroid (too much or too little hormone) is associated with a very wide range of seemingly unrelated conditions – like weight gain/loss, hair loss / shedding, mood changes, sleep disorders, temperature regulation issues, appetite disturbances, and more.
Rheumatoid and Osteo- Arthritis Protection
Cartilage production requires adequate amounts of bioavailable selenium. So this little selenium superhero can play a role in protecting joints from developing arthritis and joint inflammation.
Where Can You Find Selenium?
As mentioned above, selenium is found in a variety of meats, seafoods, nuts and some grains. Pork and liver are two amazingly rich and delicious species appropriate sources for the canine diet. Eating organic also seems to improve selenium intake, as the amount of selenium in plants and in meats often comes down to the soil where these life forms were grown. We've posted a number of recipes for homemade dog food that that includes selenium-rich meats, like this grain-free one with pork, kale, carrot and apples.
The Difference Between Sodium Selenite & Selenium
Because selenium has proven to be such an important nutrient in pet food, there has been an effort to create a synthetic version, also known as sodium selenite. Many dog foods contain sodium selenite, and there is some evidence suggesting that sodium selenite can be toxic for dogs. It is always best to stick with human edible dog treats and food that include human grade ingredients - including vitamins and minerals - that are safe for our dog.
Additionally, supplementing your dog’s diet with any pill-form of selenium should only be done with the recommendation and guidance of a veterinarian, as supplementation overdose is possible. For most of us pet parents, the best thing we can do is choose healthy, wholesome, high-protein, USA made dog foods and treats that contain selenium in normal, natural amounts. And with so many delicious sources of this little superhero, adequate intake should be a droolicious experience for your dog!
Here at Goodness Gracious, we make human-grade treats that are clean, healthy, natural, USA sources of selenium for your dog or cat – like our single-ingredient Hula Lula Pork jerky and Hula Lula Liver jerky. For the cookie lovers in your family, we make gluten free Peanut Butter Banana cookies; they’re loaded with all-natural selenium-rich peanut butter and eggs and enriched with a handful of oats. All our treats are fun and delicious ways to provide a healthy diet for your dog. Ensuring that your family’s furry bundle of love thrives, is most important to us.