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Are You Getting Real Selenium or a Toxic Synthetic?

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Are You Getting Real Selenium or a Toxic Synthetic?

Did you know that the following products on the market, including the highly touted “organic” pet food brand, Newman’s Own, contains sodium selenate? That is not real selenium! We can find many popular products today that we think are natural selenium supplements, such as Twin Lab “Sodium Selenite” and Vitamin Research Products “Selenium.” There are also many brands of veterinary vitamins that list it on their label. And you thought you could buy with confidence for your beloved vet. There are also some nutrition shakes, such as “Kids Essentials,” and Nestle’s “Nutrament,” that contain this chemical version as well. And how about the infant formula you might have purchased from Sam’s Club, called “Simply Right,” or Enfamil’s, “Premium Infant Formula Powder”? Even multi-vitamins such as “Centrum” by Pfizer and/or “One-A-Day” by Bayer, who sell millions of bottles a month, contain this stuff. After a quick sweep of Costco labeling I found it in many products. ‘OK,’ you say, ‘so what’s the big deal about the fact that they all contain sodium selenite?’

What’s wrong with sodium selenite?

We’ve all heard that the mineral selenium is good for us and that brazil nuts are a wonderful source of it, but most people don’t or won’t eat those every day. Now what’s the problem with getting sodium selenite in our food or supplements? One day we hear something is great and we rush out and buy it and then the next study comes along and they tell us it’s dangerous or it’s worthless.

According to (one of my favorite sources for information), sodium selenate, also known as sodium selinite, is a byproduct of copper metal refining. Today we can find this stuff quite commonly listed as a “nutrient” on the labels of many products being marketed, and guess what? They market this toxic substance as a key selling-point like it is actually good for us. The only problem is that 108 milligrams of this common “nutrient” can kill you! Why do you suppose that is? Can’t they just use the real selenium and not the toxic immitation?

Sodium selenite is four times more lethal than sodium cyanide.

How were any of us supposed to know that it only takes .4 milligrams (that’s 250 micrograms, or 250 millionths of a gram) of this stuff called sodium selenite to kill 50 percent of the rats who are made to ingest it? A human weighs about 275 times more than a rat, and we have a 50 percent chance of dying if we only consume 108 milligrams of it. How much is that? Well, it is only about 11 grains of sand if you would like to visualize an amount. Is it really possible that a dose of sodium selenate that small could kill a grown man or woman? Apparently so.

But here is the double edged sword: The good selenium that is found in foods like brazil nuts, mustard seeds (not easy to chow down on), and fresh produce grown in selenium-rich soil is infinitely different from the biologically inert forms being put in some of these multivitamins and other prepared food products. For example, sodium selenite/selenate can cause cancer, whereas the selenium found within food grown in the rich soil that contains it, or in the good laboratory chelated forms such as selenomethionine have all been shown to prevent and combat cancer. Money hungry companies then hire advertising folks who simply spin it into something they can hype. Then all they have to do is package it up as a buzz word ingredient and slap it on a label and we will just say, “Oh boy this product contains selenium, I just read something about how great that is,” and they think we will just buy it. Problem is, they are right….we do! Why do we do that? Because we feel we can trust these big companies. Isn’t bigger always better in America? I think we are smarter then they give us credit for.

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Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall, PhD shares musings on myriad of topics at her Celestial Musings Blog. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care with Jean Hofve, DVM and Paleo Dog. Celeste is an actress/producer/activist/writer and keynote speaker. She and her husband Nazim Artist created the Art of Wellness Collection and are the producers of Femme: Women Healing the World. They live in Los Angeles, California with their beloved Tonkinese cats. Join Celeste at her website or on Facebook.


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12:38PM PDT on Sep 27, 2015

Is THERE NOTHING that pet food manufacturers will not do to make a few bucks? Simply sickening! It's just hard to do raw food for six large dogs, frankly.

8:38AM PST on Dec 6, 2012

Thank you Celeste, for Sharing this!

12:35PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

After reading this article, I read through a substantial amount of dry cat foods on the market, including some very expensive, "healthier" brands. The majority have "sodium selenite" as an ingredient. If a pet is eating the same food every day, they are getting a lot of it in their system over a period of time, even if it's only a minor ingredient. The Iams cat food I checked did not have it. Needless to say, I have been buying Iams ever since (no, I am not employed by them).

7:08AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

thanks for sharing

11:52PM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Just checked my vitamin bottle: it contains the yeast-free, organically bound ''selenomethionine'' form of selenium. So thank god, the company I essentially trust my body to, hasn't let me down on this one.

9:02AM PST on Feb 18, 2012


11:30AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Thanks for the informative article...

8:56PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

the last sentance is excellent advice...bottom line think "holistic", check everything...and DO NOT GIVE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY TO THE THE BIG-PHARMA COMPANYS,...that are just using everyone for a " guinea pig" ANYWAY!! ...( WHAT WAS SAFE, MAY NOT BESO ANYMORE! just beware and meake your choices very carefully!...BE WELL!!...bottom line!

5:41PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Shocking facts, stick to Brazil Nuts!

11:40AM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Thank you !

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