Selenium the missing link?

with Don Fraser
Fraser Farm Finance

We were fortunate to study at agricultural college under a veterinarian, who’d describe trace element deficiencies in farm animals and then talk about the likely effects on humans.  This started my lifelong interest in trace elements and the effect it had on animals, and humans for that matter.

Moreover, I was able to experiment with my own 170 cows in the 1980s on the effects of minerals on that herd. Let me say here at the outset, I’m not a doctor, nor am I qualified to advise on these matters, and you should seek your own advice. I’m am, however, able to discuss my experiences and the logic that’s brought me to this point.

We know in horses, for example, that if a mare is low in selenium the foal may be born healthy and dead within five days from ‘white muscle disease’ which is selenium deficiency.  Could there be a correlation to cot death here?

In cows we knew we needed to supplement selenium prior to calving and mating for the following reasons.

Selenium supplementation assisted with proper cleansing of afterbirths, improved resistance to mastitis and much improved ability to get in-calf.

If you google selenium deficiency in humans it pops up for increasing resistance to cancer, particularly in men around prostate and improved mood and happiness. I’ve taken a selenium supplement much of my life.

I have increased PSA levels that are normal for my age. Given my family history with my father and uncle, I was a dead-sitter for prostate cancer. When they did the scan there was nothing to be seen.

On mood, there was a grumpy old bachelor dairy farmer in Reporoa in the 1980s. They got him onto selenium supplements and his mood and attitude improved significantly.  Selenium is called the happy drug down there. More recently, I’ve been putting a drop of liquid selenium in my wife’s porridge unbeknown to her and her persona has improved significantly!

New Zealand is widely deficient in selenium, yet we have the highest cancer and suicide rates in the world. Could there be a connection there? It is worth considering.

Should our medical system look at deficiencies and human health? If you try to discuss deficiencies and human health with doctors, they just laugh at you and say there is no research or evidence.

So, mineral deficiencies, particularly selenium, are widespread in NZ. We need to look no further than over the farm gate to see huge knowledge and supplementation in animals to prevent deficiencies. If you start to think about it there may well be a correlation.

Apparently Brazil nuts are high in selenium, but you’d need to eat a huge amount to get a result. Most of these traces can’t be found in sufficient quantities in food, and so supplements is the only way. My footnote is to be very careful with selenium supplementation as only a trace is needed.

Disclaimer – these are the opinions of Don Fraser of Fraser Farm Finance. Any decisions made should not be based on this article alone and appropriate professional assistance should be sought.

Don Fraser is the Principal of Fraser Farm Finance and a consultant to the farming industry.  Contact him on 021 777 675.


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