Selenium Role in Healthy Skin and Hair
Study shows selenium and selenoproteins play beneficial role in the health of hair and keratinocytes.
The trace mineral Selenium is essential to the body and good health, with a small amount of it going a long way. Selenium is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes.
The antioxidant properties of selenoproteins help prevent cellular oxidative damage from free radicals. Free radicals are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other Selenoproteins have been shown to help regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system.
Recently a study was published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other organizations regarding Selenium and Selenoproteins. The result: They concluded that selenoproteins are essential for proper keratinocyte function and skin development.
The study focused on selenium deficiency and showed a correlation to higher abnormalities in skin and hair.
Dietary selenium is known to protect skin against UV-induced damage and cancer and its topical application improves skin surface parameters in humans, while selenium deficiency compromises protective antioxidant enzymes in skin. Furthermore, skin and hair abnormalities in humans and rodents may be caused by selenium deficiency, which are overcome by dietary selenium supplementation.
Most important biological functions of selenium are attributed to selenoproteins, proteins containing selenium in the form of the amino acid, selenocysteine (Sec). Sec insertion into proteins depends on Sec tRNA; thus, knocking out the Sec tRNA gene (Trsp) ablates selenoprotein expression. Generated mice were used with targeted removal of selenoproteins in keratin 14 (K14) expressing cells and their differentiated descendents.
The knockout progeny had a runt phenotype, developed skin abnormalities and experienced premature death. Lack of selenoproteins in epidermal cells led to the development of hyperplastic epidermis and aberrant hair follicle morphogenesis, accompanied by progressive alopecia after birth.
Further analyses revealed that selenoproteins are essential antioxidants in skin and unveiled their role in keratinocyte growth and viability. This study links severe selenoprotein deficiency to abnormalities in skin and hair and provides genetic evidence for the role of these proteins in keratinocyte function and cutaneous development.
More studies are likely to investigate further into the benefits of selenium and hair and skin.