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Selenium – why you should take it

  • What is Selenium
  • Metabolic Benefits
  • Effect on Thyroid
  • Antiviral effects

Selenium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. Selenium is important for reproduction, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection.

How much selenium do I need?

The amount of selenium that you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg).

Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months15 mcg
Infants 7–12 months20 mcg
Children 1–3 years20 mcg
Children 4–8 years30 mcg
Children 9–13 years40 mcg
Teens 14–18 years55 mcg
Adults 19–50 years55 mcg
Adults 51–70 years55 mcg
Adults 71 years and older55 mcg
Pregnant teens and women60 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women70 mcg


What foods provide selenium?

Selenium is found naturally in many foods. The amount of selenium in plant foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where they were grown. The amount of selenium in animal products depends on the selenium content of the foods that the animals ate. You can get recommended amounts of selenium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Seafood
  • Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products
  • Breads, cereals, and other grain products

Can selenium be harmful?

Yes, if you get too much. Brazil nuts, for example, contain very high amounts of selenium (68–91 mcg per nut) and can cause you to go over the upper limit if you eat too many. Getting too much selenium over time can cause the following:

  • Garlic breath
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Irritability
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Brittle hair or nails
  • Loss of hair or nails
  • Discolored teeth
  • Nervous system problems

Extremely high intakes of selenium can cause severe problems, including difficulty breathing, tremorskidney failureheart attacks, and heart failure.

Source: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/