Brazil Nuts for Selenium and Testosterone
Brazil nuts are an unusually powerful superfood. As the richest known natural source of selenium, they have many health benefits, but also need to be eaten with caution as having too many can have side effects.
Here’s how to use these potent and nutritious nuts for selenium and why they are superior to the kind of selenium found in standard multivitamins.
Also ahead is how many to eat a day and why Brazil nuts can increase your testosterone levels naturally – good news for both men and women.
The Importance of Selenium in Your Diet
Brazil nuts are exceptionally high in selenium, an essential micromineral and antioxidant used by your body to prevent free radical oxidative damage to your cells.
While you only need a small amount of it, without adequate selenium, you can have problems making enough glutathione peroxidase within your cells.
Glutathione peroxidase is a substance critical for cellular detoxification. It converts toxins into harmless byproducts that your body eliminates and provides important protection against many environmental and dietary hazards.
Increasing glutathione peroxidase production is believed to help prevent cancerous cell changes and selenium supplements have been shown in research studies to reduce cancer risk.
Skin complaints like acne and psoriasis, as well as joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis, have often been reported to respond well to extra selenium in the diet.
Selenium is also necessary for a properly functioning thyroid. Since your thyroid controls your body’s metabolism, inadequate levels of selenium may be a factor in sudden weight gain or weight loss.
How Much Selenium is in Brazil Nuts?
Selenium is found in highly unusual amounts in these rainforest nuts. Just one Brazil nut has around 50 mcg of selenium.
The amount can vary though, depending on the soils they are grown in, and can be as high as 90 mcg for each nut.
Organic Brazil nuts, like these delicious ones I get, generally have a higher mineral content and are recommended.
100 grams of raw Brazil nuts have 2550 mcg selenium on nutritional databases, which is 3643% of the RDA. Even if you could eat that much of such a rich and filling food, you definitely wouldn’t want to.
The recommended daily allowance of selenium is 55 mcg a day and just one Brazil nut, on average, will provide close to that amount. If you already eat other selenium rich foods, like shrimp, salmon and crimini mushrooms, that’s probably all you need.
Many health experts though believe that the selenium RDA is too low and recommend getting at least 100 mcg a day. Two Brazil nuts should provide close to this amount and this is what I have personally most days, primarily for the antioxidant, thyroid and skin benefits of selenium, but also for their potential to increase testosterone production.
Brazil Nuts are Better than Selenium Supplements
Studies on selenium absorption showed participants eating just two Brazil nuts a day, versus those taking 100 micrograms of selenomethionine (a popular supplemental version) had far superior absorption and blood levels of selenium. These nuts also contain good levels of vitamin E, which is believed to enhance the beneficial effects of this essential mineral.
So just one or two Brazil nuts, ideally organic like these great tasting ones I get every month or two, is superior to supplemental selenium like selenomethionine (and especially selenium selenite found in some multivitamins, shown to adversely interact with vitamin C).
Brazil nuts also contain B vitamins, choline, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and copper in good levels. With such a rich array of nutrients they could be considered the Amazon rainforest’s antidote to all the mineral depleted foods in our regular diets.
Natural Testosterone Enhancer
Selenium has been shown in research studies to boost testosterone levels in infertile men and many people, particularly in bodybuilding forums, report a greater libido when they eat Brazil nuts regularly.
It’s possible that this is simply the result of rectifying a pre-existing selenium deficiency. However, Brazil nuts are also high in zinc, the amino acid arginine and beneficial fatty acids needed to make important steroidal hormones like testosterone.
Low amounts of zinc in your diet is strongly associated with reduced testosterone. Increasing intake of this mineral has been demonstrated in studies to improve luteinizing hormone levels, a key factor in proper testosterone production.
Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, important for vasodilation and known to increasing testicular blood flow for better hormone production. L-arginine is also a popular supplement for boosting workout performance and regular intensive exercise is one of the best ways known to improve to elevate your testosterone levels.
All of these nutrients could play their part in Brazil nuts long-standing reputation as an aphrodisiac for both men and women. While females don’t make or need nearly as much testosterone as males, rectifying a selenium deficiency and increasing nutrients like zinc and arginine can still have some very positive results in the bedroom.
At the higher levels of daily intake, athletes, bodybuilders and those with a known selenium deficiency have reported good results in health forums from taking two to three Brazil nuts for testosterone first thing in the morning and two to three in the evening before bed.
Unless you’re an athlete with higher selenium needs, or known to be deficient in the mineral, I personally think six a day is getting a bit high for regular use, particularly if you’re eating an especially strong batch of the nuts. Here’s why.
Potential Side Effects
The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine has set an upper limit of 400 mcg per day of selenium for adults and less for children. Just six selenium rich Brazil nuts could potentially exceed this amount.
While considered rare, symptoms of selenium overdose and side effects include nausea and even vomiting after eating them, possibly followed by hair loss and skin lesions in extreme cases.
Conversely, serious selenium deficiency can result in muscle weakness and pain, discoloration of the skin and hair and excessive whitening of the fingernail beds.
Clearly it’s important to get enough, but not too much selenium. With parts of the USA, like the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and parts of the Atlantic Coast, recognized as producing selenium deficient crops, it’s likely that the standard American diet is far from high in selenium.
How Many Brazil Nuts a Day?
For most people, two Brazil nuts a day is recommended. This should provide a good amount of selenium and other nutrients without going anywhere near the amounts that might cause side effects.
I find just a couple of these organic Brazil nuts particularly good for staving off hunger in the evening if you’re staying up watching a movie. Realistically though, having three or four nuts on occasions would be fine as well.
Particularly for men involved in exercise and weight training, having two Brazil nuts in the morning and two in the evening may help to boost testosterone levels. It’s recommended to not have more than six nuts a day on a regular basis as you may start to exceed a healthy selenium intake.
Have you use Brazil nuts for testosterone or taken them to increase your selenium intake before? I’d really like to hear how they made you feel and how many a day you think works best for you.
Photo 1 credit: jaydot
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