Selenium is an essential trace mineral needed for normal metabolic regulation. Selenium has a number of physiological functions but is concentrated particularly in the thyroid gland. This may give a clue as to one of its primary functions. The reason for the high concentration of selenium in the thyroid gland is because the gland synthesises a number of selenoproteins which may be related to both the function of the thyroid and also antioxidant protection. Evidence suggests that selenium deficiency in the diet is a cause of thyroid dysfunction and can cause disease relating to poor antioxidant status, demonstrating the role of the vitamin in these functions. Selenium is incorporated into selenoproteins as selenocysteine. The most well known selenoprotein relating to antioxidant status is glutathione peroxidase, although other selenoproteins such as thioredoxin reductase and deiodinases are also expressed in the thyroid gland. Selenium in the diet is rather inconsistent due to large variations in foods and therefore supplements may be necessary.
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