Selenium is a necessary mineral for many plants and animals. Selenium helps in enzymatic reactions of cells and in thyroid functioning of our body. It aids in rectification of blood clotting, immune system, and in cleansing the body. Selenium is also important for male fertility as it improves sperm mortality.
Adults older than 19 years should consume 55mcg of Selenium every day for good health. Selenium is helpful in treating conditions of thyroid, heart disease, normal liver function, and it helps to cure many body related problems.
Selenium can be found in various foods. Many foods such as Caviar, nuts, seeds, and brown rice meat, chocolates, dairy products, etc. are good sources of Selenium. Selenium deficiency can be treated with proper diet or with Selenium supplements.
Recommended Intake of Selenium for:
- Children aged 1-3 – 20 micrograms/day
- Children aged 4-8 – 30 micrograms/day
- Children aged 9-13 – 40 micrograms/day
- Children aged 14 and up, and Adults- 55 micrograms/day
- Pregnant women – 60 micrograms/day
- Breastfeeding women – 70 micrograms/day
The Best Selenium Foods
Here is a list of selenium containing foods.
Meat is a good provider of Selenium, apart from proteins. Meats like Beef, liver, lamb, pork, turkey and chicken contain Selenium.
Seafood is another set of selenium food. A large variety of seafood including Tuna, Halibut, Sardines, Flounder, Salmon, Oysters, Lobsters, Crabs, Mussels, Shrimp, Clams, Red Snapper, Herring and Scallops are very good sources of Selenium.
[ Read: Purine Rich Food List ]
Eggs contain a high amount of Selenium. Eggs are everyday food and are available easily, and everyone loves them.
Legumes like peas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, peanut butter, nut butters, and lima beans have a good amount of selenium, which is required for the body. Nuts and beans are also good sources of proteins.
[ Read: Different Types of Carbohydrates ]
Yummiest of all the food! Unsweetened cocoa powder or hot chocolate, candies, milk chocolate, fudge contains high levels of Selenium.
Vegetables like onion, raw broccoli, pinto bean, cooked plantains, cooked Brussels sprouts, cooked fresh spinach and shelled soybeans contain good amounts of Selenium. Mushrooms are the richest source of selenium.
[ Read: Serotonin Rich Foods ]
Fruits are another source of selenium. Fruits contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals along with selenium which are very important for the human body. Fruits that help in making Selenium are Dates, Bananas, Raisins, Berries, Avocado, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Watermelon, Grapes, and Strawberry.
Brazil nuts, Almonds, Peanuts, Cashew Nuts, Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Peanut Butter, Hazelnuts, and Walnuts are rich sources of Selenium. Their usage in food every day can provide iron in the body. These nuts also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which help in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Bread and pastas made from whole grain wheat flour, wheat germ, barley, brown rice, and oats are rich in selenium. Whole wheat contains highest amount of selenium.
[ Read: Carbohydrate Rich Foods ]
Beverages like Black Tea, Tea, Malted Drinks, Cocoa, Coffee, Beer, and Wine have a small amount of selenium present in them. They can meet the minimum selenium requirements in the body. But they must be taken in small quantity due to the presence of caffeine in it.
[ Read: Arginine Rich Foods ]
10. Aloe Vera
Fresh Aloe Vera has small amounts of selenium. It is also useful in hydrating the body, lubricating the brain & nervous system, the joints, and the skin.
Some Important Tips
- Avoid consumption of excess amounts of Selenium. It is poisonous if taken in large quantity.
- Excessive intake can lead to depression, skin problems, loss of fingernails, respiratory problems, liver kidney and heart disorders and cardiovascular problems.
- Its side effects include hair loss, skin cancer, and white spots on fingernails, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, nerve damage and diabetes.
Causes Of Selenium Deficiency
- Intestinal function disorder
- Gastrointestinal bypass surgery
- People over 90 years of age
- Food grown from selenium-deficient soil
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Parenteral or enteral nutrition
- Chronic conditions
Selenium Deficiency Symptoms
- General Fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Uncommon weariness
- Inability to perform basic physical tasks
Selenium Deficiency Diseases & Treatment
1. Keshan Disease
This disease occurs due to deficiency of selenium in the diet. This mainly affects children and young women. It can further lead to heart failure, pulmonary edema, and low immunity.
Kashin-Beck is a major disease caused by low selenium and iodine levels in the body. It includes various symptoms like degeneration, necrosis, and stunted growth.
Selenium deficiency can increase the risk of hypothyroidism. This can cause problems like goiter, cretinism, excessive fatigue, heart palpitations, emotional disturbance, dry skin, sensitivity to light and recurrent miscarriages.
4. Immune System
Selenium deficiency can also slow down the functioning of the immune system. It can lead to mood swings, gastrointestinal problems, cirrhosis, fatigue, garlic breath, hair loss, diarrhea and chipping of nails.
5. Skeletal Muscle Disorders
Selenium deficiency in humans can cause skeletal muscle disorders which include symptoms like proximal weakness, muscle pain, fatigue, and serum creatine kinase levels elevation.
Low selenium in the body can even lead to death from lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Proper amount of selenium helps protect against cancer. This is because selenium acts as an antioxidant which protects the body and prevents the growth of tumors.
Reduced selenium levels can increase problems of people with arthritis. Selenium contains antioxidant properties that help to relieve arthritis symptoms.
Selenium helps to slow or prevent the progression of HIV due to its antioxidant properties. Doctors can sometimes advise selenium as part of an HIV treatment plan. Deficiency of selenium can boost the progression of HIV/AIDS.
Low selenium levels in asthma patients can give them more problems. Patients are advised to take selenium supplements to control asthma problems like oxidative stress.
People with low selenium levels in the body are more prone to acquire diseases like Type 2 Diabetes. Hence a proper diet to maintain selenium levels in the body is advised using natural sources or supplements.
[ Read: Zinc Deficiency ]
11. Mental Fatigue
This is a very common disorder caused by selenium deficiency. It becomes difficult for an individual to figure out this symptom and is difficult to diagnose as well.
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