Selenium is an essential nutrient which can be sourced from the foods you eat. This nutrient plays an active role in keeping oxidative stresses at bay. Those with high level of selenium in their blood are less prone to autoimmune conditions such as cancers, Alzheimer’s disease as well as thyroid related problems. In general, this mineral is known for its ability to boost your immunity levels. There are a few superfoods which have sizeable presence of selenium in them. It can be very helpful to know foods that are rich in selenium. A caveat however is: this mineral cannot be taken in very large quantities. It is hence helpful to know the safe levels of consumption of this nutrient per day.

Selenium is an essential nutrition that can help boost your health. Thankfully, your body needs only a small quantity of this nutrient each day. Though its daily need is not high, the benefits it can offer are plenty. Rich presence of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities of this nutrient can yield added powers to fight autoimmune conditions like cancers. Selenium can get to the root-cause and reduce the growth of cancerous cells. This mineral can also safeguard you against possible spells of bacterial, viral or fungal infections. It is a proven supplement which can relieve you from oxidative stresses; especially, those showing up as arthritis, eczema, fatigue, etc.

Intake of selenium in a day must not exceed 400 micrograms for adults. The average daily requirement of this mineral is currently pegged at 55 micrograms. However, for children aged less than 3 years, the daily intake needs to be restricted to below 20 micrograms. On the other hand, women who are breastfeeding or pregnant are advised to take selenium upto 60 or 70 micrograms per day, respectively.

A selenium-deficient condition is not a common occurrence. However, if you are not taking adequate amounts of selenium, it can impair the health of your hair, nail health and can develop autoimmune conditions wherein your thyroid system is under attack by your own immunity boosting cells. In some cases, people with deficient levels of this nutrient have reported inflammation (internal swelling) of their joints or muscles. It is hence essential to include foods rich in selenium as part of your daily diet. Foods with noteworthy levels of selenium are –

Brazil nut – An ounce of these nuts can give you more than 535 micrograms of selenium; this is more than almost 8 times the daily intake-value. In fact, each nut has almost 100 micrograms of selenium; this translates to roughly 1.8 times daily intake-value. Apart from this nutrient, Brazil nut is also a rich source of minerals such as zinc, copper and magnesium. Last but not the least, these nuts contain healthy fats which are known to boost cardiac wellbeing.

Brown rice and other whole grains – 1 cup of brown rice (cooked) has nearly 18 micrograms of selenium in it. Such a serving can provide almost 24% of the daily intake-value recommended. The presence of such minerals helps boost metabolic health as well as relieves oxidative stresses. It is however difficult to estimate selenium content in whole grains; this is because, mineral composition of the fields where grains are grown can influence the levels of this nutrient in them.
But, dietary studies have broadly estimated that a cup of whole grain pasta can give nearly 39 micrograms of selenium. Also, a bowl of cereals – mainly whole grains – can yield as high as 35 micrograms or more of this mineral. If you are unable to get any of these whole grains-based foods, you can have whole grain bread (2-slices) to avail almost 15 micrograms of selenium!

Meats such as pork, beef and poultry – It is generally advised to take lean-meats. A serving of three-ounces of lean-pork is estimated to yield more than 30 micrograms. In beef, selenium content may depend on its cut. The bottom-round beefsteak can provide almost 35 micrograms of this mineral while the liver of a naturally raised cow can supply almost 27 micrograms of selenium. Similarly, three-ounces of turkey (boneless) or chicken can offer selenium in the range of 23 to 30 micrograms. So, when you have a standard serving of chicken with a cup of brown rice, your body can easily avail its daily intake-value of this nutrient.

Among poultry products, eggs are one of the easily available sources of selenium. A boiled-egg can give you almost 19 micrograms of this mineral.

Fish – Three ounces of tuna (especially, the yellowfin type) has almost 90 micrograms of selenium. This makes it as one of the richest sources of this nutrient. Apart from tuna, you can also eat crab, salmon, sardines, etc. to avail needful supply of this mineral. A similar serving of the above-listed seafood can yield selenium to the tune of 25 to 60 micrograms.

Apart from these foods, you can get selenium from a few other types of foods. These are seeds (especially, those sourced from sunflower – can give you nearly 20 micrograms from 1/4th of a cup), mushrooms (a serving of 100 grams can yield more than 10 micrograms), spinach (has copious amounts of vitamin C, folic acid and of course, selenium of about 10 micrograms in one standard cup), dairy products (a cup of milk gives upto 8 micrograms while yogurt yields more than 10 micrograms), etc. You can also try foods such as cashew nut or lentil. These foods may yield selenium in the range of 3 to 6 micrograms in a standard serving.

You need to stay aware of the possible risks of taking an excessive amount of selenium. It is quite uncommon to witness a marked increase in selenium levels. But, extra intake of supplements may lead to such risks. Likely side effects of selenium-toxicity include loss of hair (hair fall), digestive disorders or at times, foul-smelling breath. In in overdosed condition, the smell of breath may bear a strong aroma of garlic. You can ask a diet specialist to know which foods contain high levels of this nutrient and moderate the intake of such foods accordingly. Selenium is also likely to interact with cancer drugs (chemotherapeutic medications) as well as a few types of statins (primarily used in the control of blood cholesterol levels). If you are taking birth control pills, you may need to check with your doctor about risks of likely interactions.

In sum, selenium is a nutrition which promotes your overall wellbeing. Its rich anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties offer additional powers to keep away autoimmune conditions like cancers. Foods with sizeable levels of selenium are seafood such as tuna, salmon, sardines, crab as well as lean meats from poultry, beef or pork. Among plant based foods, selenium can be sourced from brown rice, brazil nut, mushrooms and spinach. If you are currently taking any drugs, it is a good practice to talk to your treating doctor to check for possible risks of interactions.


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