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The Selenium test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: A Selenium test measures the levels of selenium in a person's blood, urine, or other body fluids. Selenium is an essential trace element that plays a crucial role as an antioxidant, enzyme cofactor, and in thyroid hormone metabolism. It is obtained through diet, and its levels in the body can vary depending on various factors, including diet, age, and geographical location.

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Patient should refrain from taking vitamins or mineral supplements at least three days prior to specimen collection

When and Why a Selenium Test May Be Ordered:

A Selenium test may be ordered for various reasons:

  1. Assessment of Nutritional Status: The test is often used to assess selenium levels in individuals at risk of deficiency or those with specific dietary habits that may lead to inadequate selenium intake.

  2. Thyroid Function: Selenium is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Thus, healthcare providers may order the test to evaluate selenium status in individuals with thyroid disorders or those on certain medications affecting thyroid hormone metabolism.

  3. Monitoring Supplementation: In cases where individuals are receiving selenium supplements, the test helps monitor whether selenium levels have reached appropriate therapeutic levels or if adjustments are needed.

  4. Chronic Diseases: Selenium is thought to have a role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Therefore, healthcare providers may order the test to investigate selenium status in individuals with chronic diseases associated with inflammation.

What a Selenium Test Checks For:

The Selenium test measures the concentration of selenium in the blood, urine, or other body fluids. It indicates the level of selenium present in the body, reflecting the person's nutritional status.

Other Lab Tests That May Be Ordered Alongside a Selenium Test:

When a Selenium test is ordered, it's often part of a broader evaluation of nutritional status, especially in contexts of suspected deficiencies or toxicities. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Vitamin and Mineral Panel:

    • Purpose: To assess levels of other essential vitamins and minerals.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate overall nutritional status, especially if a deficiency or excess of selenium is suspected. This panel may include vitamins like Vitamin D, B12, and other trace elements like zinc and copper.
  2. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: Provides a broad picture of overall blood health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To detect signs of anemia or other hematologic abnormalities that can accompany nutritional deficiencies.
  3. Thyroid Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess thyroid function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Selenium is important for thyroid hormone metabolism, so imbalances in selenium levels can affect thyroid function.
  4. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: The liver is involved in the metabolism of various nutrients, including selenium, so liver disorders can affect selenium levels.
  5. Kidney Function Test:

    • Purpose: To evaluate kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Kidney disease can influence the body’s ability to retain or excrete selenium.
  6. Heavy Metal Testing:

    • Purpose: To test for the presence of heavy metals like mercury or lead.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Selenium can interact with heavy metals, and exposure to heavy metals can affect selenium status.
  7. C-Reactive Protein (CRP) or Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR):

    • Purpose: Non-specific markers of inflammation.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess inflammation levels, which can be influenced by antioxidant status and trace element levels, including selenium.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Selenium test, provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s nutritional status, thyroid function, and overall health. They are essential for diagnosing and managing conditions related to selenium deficiency or toxicity, assessing the impact of selenium on thyroid and immune function, and evaluating the potential interactions with other nutrients and heavy metals. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s symptoms, dietary intake, environmental exposures, and overall health status.

Conditions or Diseases That Would Require a Selenium Test:

A Selenium test may be necessary for the following conditions or situations:

  1. Selenium Deficiency: Individuals with poor dietary intake, malabsorption issues, or those living in selenium-deficient regions may require testing to identify selenium deficiency.

  2. Thyroid Disorders: Selenium is essential for the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active T3 form. Therefore, individuals with thyroid disorders may need testing to assess their selenium levels.

  3. Inflammatory Conditions: Chronic inflammatory conditions may affect selenium metabolism and utilization, necessitating evaluation of selenium levels.

How Health Care Providers Use the Results of a Selenium Test:

Healthcare providers use the results of a Selenium test to:

  1. Diagnose Selenium Deficiency: Low selenium levels may indicate inadequate dietary intake or malabsorption issues.

  2. Monitor Supplemental Therapy: For individuals receiving selenium supplements, the test helps determine if the supplementation is effectively raising selenium levels to therapeutic levels.

  3. Guide Nutritional Recommendations: Based on the test results, healthcare providers can recommend dietary changes or supplements to address selenium deficiency.

  4. Evaluate Thyroid Function: Selenium's role in thyroid hormone metabolism makes the test valuable in assessing thyroid health and function.

It's important to note that while selenium deficiency can lead to health issues, excessive selenium intake can also have adverse effects. Healthcare providers use the test results judiciously to ensure optimal selenium levels for individual patients' needs.

Most Common Questions About the Selenium test:

Understanding the Selenium Test

What is a Selenium test?

A Selenium test is a blood or urine test that measures the levels of selenium, an essential trace element, in your body. This test helps to determine if you have a deficiency or an excess of selenium.

Why would a healthcare provider order a Selenium test?

A healthcare provider might order this test if you have symptoms of selenium deficiency (such as fatigue, mental fog, or weakened immunity) or selenium toxicity (including garlic breath odor, hair loss, or nail changes).

What does it mean if my Selenium test results are high?

High levels of selenium could indicate selenium toxicity, which is usually due to consuming too much selenium, often through supplements or a diet high in selenium-rich foods.

What does it mean if my Selenium test results are low?

Low levels of selenium might indicate a deficiency, which could be due to a diet low in selenium, certain health conditions that affect nutrient absorption, or regions where the soil is selenium-deficient, affecting the selenium content in locally grown food.

Understanding Selenium in the Body

What role does selenium play in the body?

Selenium is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in metabolism, reproduction, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. It also supports the function of the immune system and thyroid gland.

What are the sources of selenium?

Selenium is found in a variety of foods. The richest sources are organ meats and seafood, but other sources include muscle meats, grains, dairy products, and some vegetables and fruits, depending on the selenium content of the soil where they were grown.

How does selenium deficiency affect health?

Selenium deficiency can contribute to both hypothyroidism and a weakened immune system. It can also lead to a heart disease known as Keshan disease and a type of osteoarthritis called Kashin-Beck disease.

How does selenium toxicity or overdose affect health?

Selenium toxicity, also known as selenosis, can result in symptoms such as garlic breath odor, hair loss, brittle nails, gastrointestinal problems, skin rash, nervous system abnormalities, and in severe cases, it can be fatal.

Can the Selenium test diagnose specific diseases or conditions?

The Selenium test alone can't diagnose a specific disease. However, it can help to confirm a diagnosis of selenium deficiency or toxicity, which can cause various health problems.

Understanding Test Results and Follow-ups

What does it mean if my Selenium test results are in the normal range?

If your Selenium test results are in the normal range, it generally means that your selenium levels are adequate and you're unlikely to have a deficiency or excess of this nutrient.

What factors can affect my Selenium test results?

Factors that can affect Selenium test results include diet, certain health conditions that affect nutrient absorption, medications, and exposure to selenium in the environment or workplace.

What should I do if my Selenium test results are abnormal?

If your Selenium test results are abnormal, your healthcare provider will likely order further tests to confirm the diagnosis and to check for any underlying conditions that could be causing the deficiency or excess. They will then recommend an appropriate treatment or intervention.

Selenium Test and Specific Populations

How might Selenium test results differ in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding?

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the need for selenium increases, so selenium levels might be slightly lower than normal. However, selenium deficiency is rare in these groups.

How might Selenium test results differ in older adults?

Older adults might have slightly lower selenium levels due to changes in diet or decreased absorption of nutrients, but they're also more likely to take supplements that could increase their selenium levels.

Can a Selenium test be used to monitor the effectiveness of a selenium supplement?

Yes, a Selenium test can be used to monitor selenium levels in people taking selenium supplements to ensure they're receiving an adequate dose and to prevent selenium toxicity.

General Questions About the Test

What conditions or symptoms might warrant a Selenium test?

Conditions or symptoms that might warrant a Selenium test include chronic fatigue, frequent infections, hair loss, nail changes, and signs of hypothyroidism.

Can a Selenium test determine if I'm getting enough selenium from my diet?

Yes, a Selenium test can help determine if you're getting enough selenium from your diet. However, this test is not typically performed unless there's a suspected deficiency or excess.

How often should a Selenium test be done?

There's no set frequency for a Selenium test. It's typically done as needed, based on symptoms, risk factors, and the healthcare provider's discretion.

Are there any medications or supplements that can affect Selenium test results?

Yes, certain medications and supplements, especially those containing selenium, can affect Selenium test results. It's important to inform your healthcare provider of any medications or supplements you're taking.

What does it mean if my Selenium test results are borderline?

If your Selenium test results are borderline, it means your selenium levels are on the edge of being too low or too high. Your healthcare provider might recommend dietary changes or retesting.

What are the possible interventions for abnormal Selenium test results?

Interventions for abnormal Selenium test results depend on whether you have a deficiency or an excess of selenium. They might include dietary changes, supplements, or reducing exposure to selenium.

Are there any risks associated with having too much or too little selenium?

Yes, both selenium deficiency and selenium toxicity can pose health risks, affecting the immune system, thyroid function, and potentially leading to heart disease and other health problems.

Is there a way to naturally alter the results of a Selenium test?

Yes, dietary changes can alter selenium levels. Consuming more selenium-rich foods can help increase levels, while reducing consumption of these foods can decrease selenium levels.

How can I maintain normal selenium levels in my body?

You can maintain normal selenium levels by consuming a balanced diet that includes selenium-rich foods. In some cases, a healthcare provider might recommend supplements.

Can the Selenium test provide insights into my overall nutritional status?

While the Selenium test can provide insights into your selenium status, it's only a piece of the puzzle. A variety of tests are usually needed to get a full picture of your overall nutritional status.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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