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Selenium is a mineral element with the atomic number 34. Selenium and vitamin E are synergistic and the two together are stronger than each one on its own. Selenium slows down ageing and hardening of tissues through oxidation. Males seem to have a greater need for this mineral. Nearly half of the total supply in the body is concentrated in the testicles and in the seminal ducts adjacent to the prostate gland. Selenium is useful in keeping youthful elasticity in tissues. It also helps in the prevention and treatment of dandruff and improves the condition of hair and nails.

Selenium is important to mental health as it plays a role in the workings of the thyroid gland and can help to alleviate the mood and reduce symptoms of depression. It is also known to alleviate hot flushes and menopausal distress.

Selenium is an important antioxidant that plays a role in the body's utilisation of oxygen. Alcoholics, as well as patients with candidiasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and arthrogryposis-renal dysfunction-cholestasis (ARC), have all shown low levels of selenium. In addition, heart disease and cancer are higher in people with diminished selenium levels.

Selenium also has a role in detoxifying poisonous phenols, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, hydrocarbons and chlorine. Many people with allergic reactions to these substances have found relief through the use of selenium. However, selenium can be toxic in large amounts.

Selenium deficiency

A deficiency of selenium can cause premature loss of stamina.

Selenium overdose

Too much selenium can cause some toxic effects including gastrointestinal upset, brittle nails, hair loss and mild nerve damage therefore supplements are not advised.

Highest sources of selenium in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Brazil nuts 1917 µg

  • Oysters 154 µg

  • Lamb's liver 116 µg

  • Tuna 108 µg

  • Whelks and octopus 89.6 µg

  • Wheat germ 79.2 µg

  • Sunflower seeds 79 µg

  • Amaranth 70.7 µg

  • Caviar (fish roe) 65.5 µg

  • Anchovies 68.1 µg

  • Egg yolk 56 µg

  • Chia seeds 55.2 µg

  • Kippers 52.6 µg

  • Pork 51.6 µg

  • Halibut 46.8 µg

  • Oat bran 45.2 µg

  • Lean beef 44.8 µg

  • Crab 44.4 µg

  • Salmon 41.4 µg

  • Rabbit (wild) 38.5 µg

  • Chicken and turkey 37.8 µg

  • Turbot 36.5 µg

  • Sesame seeds 34.4 µg

  • Kamut 30 µg

  • Couscous 27.5 µg

  • Mushrooms (Crimini) 26 µg

  • Cashew nuts 19.9 µg

  • Calf's liver 19.3 µg

  • Rabbit 15.2 µg

  • Rye (whole grain) 13.9 µg

  • Venison 10.3 µg

  • Spirulina 7.2 µg

  • Asparagus 6.1 µg

  • Spinach 5.5 µg


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NOTE: One µg is one microgram.

Recommended daily requirement

Around 55 micrograms of selenium per day is more than adequate for an average sized adult.

Natural sources of selenium in alphabetical order

Associated subjects

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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