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Native Selenium

Native selenium in sandstone, from a uranium mine near Grants, New Mexico. (Wikipedia)

Is there a connection between lack of selenium and low immunity?

The amount of selenium in the soil varies. David Marsh, co-author of “The Driving Force, Food, Evolution and the Future” talks with HOT’S Chandra Masoliver about the importance of selenium for our immune system, where we get selenium from, and how a lack of it might affect our susceptibility to Covid-19.

CM: What is selenium, and where does it come from?

DM: The minerals in our bodies were forged in the nuclear furnace of the sun. Our planet is a broken-off piece of the sun, and its ‘periodic elements’ (found in minerals, metals, salts etc.) were distributed in various amounts, at different places and levels, among the earth’s crust. Our soils today are the result of untold ice ages. Ice floes crushed mountains, grinding their rocks slowly for aeons over the land surfaces to produce the multiplicity of soils that exist today.

Selenium is a chemical element with the symbol Se and atomic number 34. It is often referred to as a mineral or a trace element, but is more accurately called a non-metal or a metalloid.

CM: Who discovered it?

DM: Jons Jacob Berzelius, a Swedish man, in 1817; he was one of the founders of modern chemistry, and was the first person to measure accurate atomic weights, and give the elements one or two letters to symbolize them, just as we do now. He discovered and named cerium, Ce, (after the dwarf planet Ceres), thorium, Th, (after Thor the god of thunder and war) and selenium, Se, named after the Greek for moon, since it was similar to tellurium, Te, named after the earth.

CM: What do we need it for?

DM: Selenium is essential for humans and animals. It is only needed in tiny amounts, too much is toxic, but it’s critical for the proper functioning of the body. It is needed for metabolism and it helps with the repair of faulty DNA, where incorrect copies of genes give rise to cancers and enable viruses to mutate more readily. Therefore it is important in periods of plague, such as we have today.

Basically, it improves immunity. Scientifically, one would say selenium deficiency and mutations, or polymorphisms, in selenoprotein genes are implicated in a variety of diseases – cardiovascular and muscle disorders, cancer, neurological disorders and immune and endocrine dysfunction, where a lack of selenium can allow viruses to mutate more readily.

CM: Where do we find it?

DM: Selenium is not distributed evenly in all soils, it occurs in conjunction with other minerals in the earth’s crust and in the oceans. It is found in water, in rock formations and in several foods. There are pockets where it is toxic, for example in parts of the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Israel and South America. Animals may then suffer from ‘alkali disease’ or ‘blind staggers’, with symptoms like hair loss and cracked hooves. Horses, cattle and sheep can all be affected, but they get better when removed to normal pasture.

Other areas of those same countries have too low a concentration, so too in large parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and New Zealand. This can affect the food grown in that soil. Here, animals, especially ruminants, can suffer from White Muscle Disease, they become stiff and walk with an arched back, though preferring to lie down.

CM: Inasmuch as we need it, what are the best sources of selenium?

DM: Yellowfin tuna, oysters, salmon, anchovy, mussels, shrimps, pork chops, beef, lean chicken breast. And for vegetarians, brazil nuts, shitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, tofu and whole wheat pasta for example.

Obviously, the amounts of selenium in any of these foods would depend on the soil they are grown in because plants can’t make minerals, they can only get them from the soil. Soils became impoverished through deforestation, mono-cropping and loss of topsoil through water run-off. And then in the twentieth century also through the use of artificial fertilizers, which usually only contain nitrogen, phosphate and potash, while, like mammalian blood, fertile soil contains at least sixty minerals

CM: What happens if humans have too little or too much?

DM: Too little can cause infertility. Keshan disease is a potentially fatal heart muscle disease, first diagnosed in selenium-poor regions of China, it was then discovered in Finland, where parents had to become used to burying their children. Similarly, Kashin-Beck disease is a chronic bone disease in such areas as China, Korea, Siberia and Tibet.

As I said before, the most important deficiency symptom is how DNA is miscopied into the system, and that’s a direct cause of cancer. Also, it allows viruses to mutate more easily.

If you take too much selenium it can lead to selenosis, with hair loss, nail loss, nausea, irritability, fatigue and some nerve damage. You can get a metallic taste in your mouth, and your breath may smell strongly of garlic.

CM: Could there be any connection between selenium and Covid 19?

DM: It’s possible that there is a connection. In China, in selenium deficient regions, and Wuhan is one such area, markets selling wild animals such as bats, pangolins and monkeys – known as ‘bush meat’- carry viruses that can give rise to new virus mutants, like Covid-19. There are also research labs in Wuhan involved in virus research, one at least funded by the United States, fuelling conspiracy theories regarding ‘gain of function abilities’, raising fears of Covid-19 possibly having been developed as either a weapon of war or an attack weapon.

Modelled Concentration of World Selenium in the Soil 1980-1999, with below, forecast of change predicted 2060-2099

Modelled Concentration of World Selenium in the Soil 1980-1999, with below, forecast of change predicted 2060-2099

In fact it is inconceivable that there is no connection between selenium deficiency and Covid-19. Margaret Rayman, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey said that given the history of viral infections associated with selenium deficiency, the appearance of Covid-19 in China could be linked to the belt of selenium deficiency that runs from the North-East to the South-West of the country.

In The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, she writes (with Jinsong Zhang et al) “Examining data from Chinese provinces and municipalities with more than two hundred cases, and from cities with more than forty cases, researchers found that areas with high levels of selenium were more likely to recover from the virus. For example, in the city of Enshi in the Hubei province, which has the highest selenium intake in China, the cure rate (percentage of Covid-19 patients declared ‘cured’) was almost three times higher than the average for all the other cities in the Hubei Province. By contrast, in the Heilongjiang Province, where selenium intake is among the lowest in the world, the death rate from Covid-19 was almost five times as high as the average of all the other provinces outside of Hubei.” The researchers also found in seventeen cities outside Hubei that the Covid-19 cure rate was significantly associated with selenium status, measured by the amount of selenium in hair.

Crawford M. and Marsh D.E. ‘The Driving Force, Food, Evolution and the Future.’ Heinemann 1989. To be followed by ‘The Brain Under Siege’ 2021

Marsh D. E. ‘Viruses Mutate More Readily in Selenium-Deficient Surroundings’. Positive Health Online 263. June 2020.

Rayman M.P. The importance of selenium to human health. The Lancet 356 2000

Rayman M.P. Selenium and human health. The Lancet 379 2012

Jinsong Zhang et al. Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of Covid-19 cases in China. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2020 (Provided by the University of Surrey 2020).

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Posted 11:29 Thursday, Jan 14, 2021 In: Covid-19

1 Comment

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  1. Keith Piggott

    Congratulations to David Marsh, not only for his informative presentation but also for his engaging syntax, a great communicator. KP

    Comment by Keith Piggott — Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 @ 23:50

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