Fertility Concerns? Try Eating Brazil Nuts
Using advanced technology, researchers in Australia discovered recently that the essential trace element, selenium, is especially rich in the ovarian follicles of reproductive-age women. The finding suggests that the metallic element is especially important for maintaining a women’s fertility. It’s been known for years that selenium is important for male reproductive health. But the new research indicates that it’s just as crucial for women’s reproductive health.
Selenium is a trace element; it occurs in very small amounts in the diet. Even so, it’s also an essential nutrient, meaning we must have it to function, and can’t make it from scratch in the body. It must come from the diet.
Selenium is especially important for maintaining immunity, because it is one of the few metals that is a key component of a number of crucial immune system proteins. Among these are some of the body’s most powerful natural antioxidants. Most Americans needn’t worry that they’re not getting enough selenium. It’s common in the soil here, so it’s common in the foods we eat.
Even so, some people who avoid certain foods may be at risk for deficiency. It’s found in red meat, seafood, poultry, mushrooms, and certain grains and nuts. Brazil nuts are among the richest sources of natural selenium. Selenium is virtually nonexistent in the soils of some regions of the world, so women there may be at increased risk for fertility problems.
Scientists think selenium that concentrates in the ovaries plays an important antioxidant role, helping protect delicate maturing eggs from harm. The Australians’ research found that among women who had healthy pregnancies, selenium proteins were especially abundant in their ovarian follicles. The largest, healthiest follicles, where viable eggs mature, tended to contain the greatest amounts of these selenium compounds.
It’s possible to get too much selenium, though. You certainly don’t want to overdose. In fact, although Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium and heart-healthy fats, it’s probably best to limit yourself to no more then two or three of these tropical tree nuts per day.
M. J. Ceko, K. Hummitzsch, N. Hatzirodos, W. M. Bonner, J. B. Aitken, D. L. Russell, M. Lane, R. J. Rodgers, H. H. Harris. X-Ray fluorescence imaging and other analyses identify selenium and GPX1 as important in female reproductive function. Metallomics, 2014; DOI: 10.1039/C4MT00228H