Effects of Brazil Nuts and Selenium When Trying to Conceive

Updated on November 6, 2019
Charlotte Doyle profile image

Charlotte is a mother of two children and is pursuing a Master's degree in Psychology at this time. She is interested in mental health.

Depiction of the Brazil nut in Scientific American Supplement, No. 598, June 18, 1887
Depiction of the Brazil nut in Scientific American Supplement, No. 598, June 18, 1887 | Source

Brazil Nuts: New Trend in the TTC World

One of the common searches for women trying to conceive is “Brazil nuts” or “selenium.” Sometimes, we tend to jump on new trends without much research, but the research is important. In this article, I researched a few articles related to the magic in Brazil nuts—selenium—and its effects on some of the key reproductive points that selenium directly affects. While selenium is related to beneficial reproductive effects, it also has a dark side that a potential mother-to-be should be aware of.

What Are Brazil Nuts?

The Brazil nut comes from a very large tree that can grow up to one hundred and sixty feet tall with a trunk that is up to almost seven feet in diameter. It's one of the largest trees in the rainforests of the Amazon, and the tree can live for about five hundred years—or even more.

Brazil nuts can only be pollinated by certain bees, and the fruit takes about fourteen months to become mature after it has its flowers pollinated. The fruit looks somewhat like a coconut and can weigh up to almost five pounds. The shell is about half an inch thick, and when opened, it can contain eight to twenty-four seeds that are wedge-shaped and about two inches long. The Brazil nuts resemble orange wedges in the way they are packed into the coconut like shell.

Interestingly, the import of Brazil nuts has regulations that are quite strict in some nations, as the Brazil nut shells have very high amounts of aflatoxins, which, if ingested, may cause cancer of the liver. Brazil nuts, interestingly, also have radium, which happens to be a radioactive element.

Why Are They Special?

Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Selenium is important for the health of humans. It's important to note that high amounts of selenium can be very toxic, so even though you might be interested in using Brazil nuts or selenium to try to conceive, keep in mind that overdose might cause health issues. It can even increase diseases like type 2 diabetes. As a side note, the selenium from Brazil nuts has antioxidant effects, which means that it can fight, prevent, and even reverse DNA damage as has been explained in this study.

What Foods Have Selenium?

Selenium is founds in many foods, like seafood, nuts, cereals, and meats. Selenium in vegetables depends on the kind of soil used to create it or the fertilizers used. Brazil nuts have between eight and eighty three micrograms per gram. That said, Brazil nuts are one of the foods that have the highest amounts of selenium in the food kingdom. They also have monosaturated fatty acids, iron, zinc, niacin, and fiber.

Selenium and Men

When selenium (200 micrograms per gram) was combined with 400 IU of Vitamin E, it was reported in this study that there was a great increase in "male reproductive fluid" motility, "male reproductive fluid" morphology or both. It was also reported that spontaneous pregnancies increased by almost eleven percent. (Morphology refers to formations and shapes, which are important for function and motility, which is in reference to movement of the swimmers.)

Selenium and Women

When a woman is low in selenium, she may have complications of a gestational nature, such as miscarriages, and damage to the fetus's immune system and nervous system. Having low selenium in the early pregnancy of a woman can even cause a newborn's low birth weight, as seen in this study.

According to this study, in cattle, it was seen that selenium shows a decreased rate of fertility and placenta retention. Increased fertility occurs because the chances of the embryo dying within the first thirty days of a woman being pregnant significantly lessen.

Brazil Nuts Overdose

Eating too many Brazil nuts can cause a symptom known as selenosis. As mentioned earlier, this is when one ingests too much selenium. One can experience hair loss, tiredness, ability to get irritable easily, metallic taste, and breath that has a garlic smell. A person can die if they eat about one hundred and forty Brazil nuts, and this would introduce ten grams of selenium in an individual. All it would take to kill a human is five milligrams of selenium per day.

How Much Selenium Should You Eat in One Day?

A woman trying to conceive, or a man trying to increase his quality and motility of sperm, can safely eat four hundred micrograms, which may limit a person to one to three Brazil nuts in one day. Please pay attention to the difference between micrograms and milligrams.

Also, pay attention to the bag's label. How much selenium does a serving of Brazil nuts provide? Too much of a good thing can definitely be bad, so the recommended amount is fifty five micrograms a day, and the absolute maximum is four hundred micrograms per day.

Selenium as an Antioxidant

Because selenium is an antioxidant, selenium could reduce the oxidative stress that becomes higher during pregnancy. This stress is caused by an increase of metabolic demand from the mother that is required for the production of energy. The high level of reactive oxygen that forms could lead to devastating effects on normal functions of the cell, especially on the development of the embryo.

Selenium Thoughts in Regards to TTC

Ultimately, supplementing one's diet with selenium from Brazil nuts can have a positive significance for a man and woman who are trying to conceive, but its ingestion must be limited as an overdose could have fatal consequences.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Charlotte Doyle

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