Selenium is a trace mineral, which means your body only needs a small amount. However, these lower levels bring stronger health benefits. Selenium helps protect your body from infections and chronic diseases and regulates the hormones produced by your thyroid.
This mineral is found in a wide variety of foods, including daily staples, such as meat, eggs, and bread. Since selenium comes from the earth, its content may vary slightly depending on where the food material (or animal feed) is produced and the quality of that soil. It is also available as a supplement, yet most diets contain selenium which makes it easy to digest.
Why you need selenium?
As an essential mineral, your daily requirement of selenium from dietary sources is important. To avoid deficiency you should take an average of 55 micrograms which can lower your body’s resistance to disease and affect fertility.
Although we only need trace amounts, selenium plays an important role in this:
Reducing the risk of chronic disease
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. It works to prevent cell damage in your body due to factors like aging, lifestyle choices, and environmental conditions. Over time, this cell damage – or oxidative stress – is associated with cancer, heart disease, and cognitive impairment.
Your thyroid is a small gland that makes hormones to regulate your body’s metabolic processes. When it is not performing properly – such as an abnormal thyroid – people may experience fatigue, weight gain, depression, and muscle pain. Over time thyroid risks can contribute to chronic disease.
Selenium is involved in maintaining healthy thyroid function. Research shows, however, that it can also negatively affect your thyroid too much. Get selenium from food-based sources instead of supplements to avoid overdose unless your doctor advises
Research fights the loss of selenium’s antioxidant activity that may contribute to neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. Studies are underway to determine if the effects of selenium can help prevent or treat cognitive impairment, but scientists believe that taking adequate amounts in your diet can help maintain a healthy brain function.
How much selenium do I need?
Although too little selenium can cause serious health problems, too much selenium can be toxic. Follow these guidelines from the National Institutes of Health to determine how much selenium is right for you.
Age is the recommended daily amount of selenium
- 55 mcg for more than 14 years
- 9 to 13 years 40 mcg
- 4 to 8 years 30 mcg
- 7 months to 3 years 20 mcg
- 15 mcg at 6 months from birth
- Pregnant or lactating women need 60 mcg of selenium daily.
Selenium Rich Foods
Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium. One ounce, or about six to eight nuts, contains about 544 mcg. Make sure you serve Brazil nuts several times a week to avoid selenium toxicity.
Yellowfin tuna contains about 92 mcg of selenium per 3 ounces (oz), which is encouraged as a source of selenium. It is followed by sardines, oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, and crab, which range in size from 40 to 65 mcg.
Some products, including pasta, whole wheat bread, and whole-grain cereals, are enriched or preserved with selenium and other minerals. The amount of selenium in these products may vary but you can usually serve with 1 cup of noodles or cereal and get about 16 mcg from 2 pieces of whole-grain toast. Just make sure you balance foods rich with plenty, plant-based foods for optimal nutrition.
The selenium content of beef depends on the cut but the round beef steak at the bottom will give you about 33 mcg. The beef liver delivers about 28 mcg and ground beef about 18 mcg.
You can get 31 mcg of selenium from 3 oz of boneless turkey. Eat turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread in the castle for extra selenium.
The chicken will give you 22 to 25 mcg of selenium per 3 oz of white meat. This translates into a serving that is like a deck of sized cards, an easy way to add some selenium to your diet
One cup of cottage cheese provides about 20 mcg or 30 percent of your daily recommended selenium.
A hard-boiled egg provides about 20 mcg of selenium. Don’t like hard-boiled? No worries, go for eggs cooked in any way you like, and you’ll still get a dose of selenium.
One cup of cooked long-grain brown rice will give you 19 mcg of selenium, or 27 percent of the recommended daily amount. Enjoy this grain with your preferred 3 oz portion of chicken or turkey to get almost the full recommended daily amount for adults – 50 miles of selenium. You can substitute rice for barley which provides 23 mg in 1/3 cup serving.
A quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides about 19 mcg of selenium, making them a great snack, especially if you haven’t eaten animal products that contain high levels of selenium.
Mushrooms are fungi that contain many nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, and about 12 mcg of selenium per 100 grams.
One cup of regular oatmeal, cooked, will give you 13 mcg of selenium. Enjoy it for breakfast with two eggs to get 53 mcg.
Cooked vegetables, frozen, will provide you with about 11 mcg of selenium per cup. It is rich in folic acid and vitamin C.
Milk and yogurt
Milk and yogurt contain about 8 mcg of selenium per cup or 11 percent of your daily requirement. Add some milk to your rich cereal for your intake.
One cup of cooked lentils provides about 6 mcg of selenium, as well as a healthy dose of protein and fiber. Add selenium to a soup with their mushrooms for a full vegan-friendly meal.
Dried fried cashews offer 3 mcg per ounce. It doesn’t seem like much, but every bit helps, especially if you follow a vegetarian diet. Breakfast in some dried fried cashews and you will get a small amount of selenium in the amount of 3 mcg per serving of one ounce.
One cup of chopped banana gives 2 mcg of selenium or 3 percent of your recommended daily intake. Again it doesn’t seem like much but most fruits only provide minimal traces of selenium or none at all. Add bananas to smoothies with a yogurt or your favorite oatmeal for more selenium.
What vegetables are high in selenium?
Spinach, cooked from frozen, will provide you with about 11 mcg of selenium per cup. It's also packed full of folic acid and vitamin C.
Are eggs high in selenium?
One large egg can add about 28% of your daily selenium requirement. Most of this content is concentrated in the egg's yolk. However, the egg whites have about 9 micrograms of selenium, which is a great option for people watching their cholesterol intake.
Do Tomatoes contain selenium?
Food with good selenium content includes kidney, liver, poultry, fish, grains, seeds, tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, mushrooms, broccoli, and Brazil nuts.
Does garlic contain selenium?
Most of our common foods, however, contain a very low level of selenium; for example, natural garlic contains <0.05 μg Se/g garlic (32). The selenium content of plants is dependent upon the amount of selenium in the soil.