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A trace element (symbol Se), discovered by Berzelius in 1817. It has many beneficial effects on the human body, including fighting the effects of ageing, the prevention of heart disease and cancers. It's been estimated that if everyone took selenium supplements, the incidence of cancer could be reduced by 70 per cent. It's particularly well absorbed if combined with vitamins C and E.

Dietary sources of selenium are limited as plants don't require it for growth, but among the best natural sources are brewer's yeast, raw wheat germ, nuts (particularly Brasil nuts), offal, onions, seeds and tuna. A daily consumption of between 50 and 200 mcg's is recommended for adults, and selenium is widely available at health food shops. See'Alternative Medicines'; 'Berzelius'; 'Trace Element'

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