Selenium, the unsung hero of essential minerals, may be needed in tiny quantities, but its impact is nothing short of monumental. This unassuming trace element is your body’s secret weapon against oxidative damage, like a caped crusader defending your health.
Imagine selenium as a superhero mineral, tirelessly bolstering your immune system’s defences and standing guard over your precious cells. Its superpower? Being an antioxidant extraordinaire! Selenium swoops in to vanquish those villainous free radicals – the sinister molecules that threaten cellular havoc.
In this article, we’re about to unveil the selenium-rich foods and recipes that can supercharge your health. Learn what foods have selenium and how to incorporate them into your diet. We’ll harness the tools and charts wielded by the experts in our Micros Masterclass, ensuring you get the lowdown on this mighty mineral in the most captivating way possible!
- High Selenium Foods (Per Serving)
- Selenium Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
- Selenium Rich Food Chart
- How Much Selenium Do You Need?
- Selenium-Rich Recipes
- Benefits of Selenium
- What Does Selenium Do in Your Body?
- Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency
- Factors That Increase Demand for Selenium
- Selenium Toxicity
- Availability of Selenium in the Food System
- Synergistic Nutrients with Selenium
- Selenium Bioavailability
- How Can I Calculate if I’m Getting Enough Selenium?
High Selenium Foods (Per Serving)
If you find yourself falling short of the recommended selenium intake, it’s time to focus on foods high in selenium that pack in more selenium per serving. Various selenium sources include seafood, nuts, and meats, which contribute to these health benefits.
To help you get started, the infographic below showcases popular foods with high selenium content in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers. Understanding the amount of selenium in food can help you meet your nutritional goals.
Once you’re ready to revitalise your selenium-rich diet with a wider variety of high-selenium foods, download our printable list of foods with more selenium per serving here.
Selenium Rich Foods (Per Calorie)
Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of selenium your body needs, you can zero in on selenium-rich foods that deliver more selenium per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density. The infographic below shows popular foods rich in selenium that provide more selenium per calorie.
For more variety, check out our printable list of selenium-rich foods per calorie.
Selenium Rich Food Chart
Curious about how your favourite foods stack up in the selenium game? Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular selenium-containing foods, comparing selenium content per calorie and per serving. For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).
Fortunately, selenium is usually found readily within most soils, so plants and animals can get enough selenium-rich foods for human consumption. As a result, selenium foods are scattered throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, although they’re most abundant in foods from the sea, where it’s usually found alongside its synergist, iodine.
Although selenium is found consistently in seafood, it is found in its highest concentration in Brazil nuts, which makes it easy to get selenium if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
How Much Selenium Do You Need?
Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 90 mcg of selenium per 2000 calories, which is more than the Dietary Reference Intake of 55 mcg for men. However, achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake of 180 mg per 2000 calories from food aligns with an impressive 24% reduction in energy intake.
Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1400 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass. We’ve plotted these recipes based on selenium content versus protein percentage. The further right you go, the more selenium you can enjoy with fewer calories.
Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer. Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures!
Benefits of Selenium
- Antioxidant: Selenium is a potent antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress is linked to various chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
- Immune function: Selenium plays a critical role in the immune system, helping fight infections and diseases. It does this by stimulating the production of white blood cells and antibodies, which help to identify and destroy harmful pathogens.
- Thyroid function: Selenium is necessary for producing thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and are essential for growth and development. Low selenium levels have been linked to an increased risk of thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism and goitre.
- Reproductive health: Selenium is important for both male and female reproductive health. In men, it is necessary for the production of healthy sperm, while in women, it may help to reduce the risk of miscarriage and improve fertility.
- Cognitive function: There is some evidence to suggest that selenium may help to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
Various selenium sources include seafood, nuts, and meats, which contribute to these health benefits.
What Does Selenium Do in Your Body?
- We need selenium to convert T4 thyroid hormone into its active form known as T3. Lower selenium levels have been associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Selenium is thought to be protective against cancers. Studies have shown an inverse relationship between selenium levels and someone’s risk for colon, prostate, lung, bladder, gastric, skin, and oesophageal cancers.
- Selenium helps orchestrate apoptosis or the regulated cell death of old and defective cells.
- We also need selenium to produce the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione.
- Men need ample amounts of selenium to support the healthy motility and development of sperm.
- The body needs selenium to make tiny proteins that protect against cell damage and infection and help to make DNA.
- Selenium is often plentiful in seafood and is known to help you detoxify the mercury found in some fish.
A lack of selenium is associated with:
- lowered immunity,
- impaired immune responses,
- muscle weakness,
- muscle pain,
- symptoms of asthma,
- poor cognition,
- Autoimmune (Hashimoto’s) thyroiditis,
- heart failure, and
- coronary heart disease.
You may need more selenium if you’re:
- Immune compromised,
- diagnosed with HIV/AIDS,
- on dialysis,
- dealing with kidney failure,
- live in a region where selenium is low in the soil,
- following a plant-based diet,
- taking corticosteroids for a long time,
- experiencing premenstrual tension (PMS), or
Although selenium is required for health, high doses of selenium can be toxic and even fatal. To avoid toxicity, an Upper Intake Level of supplemental selenium has been set at 400 mcg/day.
If you’re getting too much selenium in your diet, you might experience GI upset, hair loss, nausea, breath that smells like garlic, a metallic taste, skin rashes, lesions, fatigue, irritability, and muscle tenderness.
Although selenium toxicity is often achieved by taking supplemental selenium, eating too many selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts too frequently can result in toxicity, too. More is not always better!
Availability of Selenium in the Food System
Selenium content depends on the selenium content of the soil in which the food is grown.
In certain parts of China, where large proportions of the population are vegetarian and soil selenium levels are low, inhabitants have one of the most inadequate intakes. These selenium-deficient areas correspond to a 69% higher risk of thyroid disease. Average selenium intakes are also low in some European countries. The risk for deficiency increases significantly in populations following a vegan diet.
As we can see in the chart below, selenium content in our food system declined over the past century until selenium fortification ramped up in the mid-1970s (data from the USDA Economic Research Service).
Selenium is not a one-person show. Instead, it works synergistically (or together) with vitamins B3, C, and E, cysteine, glutathione, methionine, zinc, and iodine.
For this reason, it’s best to eat foods containing selenium because they often have a complete vitamin and mineral profile. In contrast, supplements are usually in isolated form.
There is little known about the bioavailability and absorption of selenium.
Curious about your selenium intake? Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the selenium sweet spot in your diet.
You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your magnesium gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on critical nutrients.
Ready to unlock your nutrient potential? Join the challenge and embark on a journey towards a brighter, healthier you!
Nutrient Density Starter Pack
Ready to supercharge your nutrition? Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!
In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:
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- Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
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Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly. Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin K2