Selenium - Information and Sources

Selenium is a trace element mineral which is acts with vitamin E as a non-specific antioxidant involved in keeping free radical damage at bay, specifically as part of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. With an adequate intake of selenium, vitamin E requirements are more easily met.

Adult males should aim for 75µg of selenium per day and females 60 µg per day. Between 55-65% dietary selenium is absorbed. Deficiency in the West is rare, but soils across the World vary hugely in their selenium concentration, therefore selenium intakes can be low in some regions, e.g. North East China, where a type of heart disease, called Keshan disease, is prevalent due to selenium deficiency.

The following foods are significant sources of selenium in the Western diet, though the actual selenium content does vary depending on the soil concentration:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Broccoli
  • Brown (unpolished) rice
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Chicken
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Kelp
  • Liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Oysters
  • Nuts
  • Salmon
  • Seafood
  • Sesame seeds
  • Tuna
  • Vegetables
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Wholewheat products