How much selenium per day

Selenium, a trace mineral, is not as commonly discussed as other nutrients, but its importance to human health is substantial. Found in soil, water, and some foods, selenium plays an important role in various physiological functions, including antioxidant defense, thyroid hormone metabolism, and immune system support. It is important to understand how much selenium a person should consume daily to maintain overall health and well-being.

How much selenium per day

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a mineral that our bodies require in small amounts. It is an important component of selenoproteins, which act as antioxidants and play important roles in thyroid function, DNA synthesis, reproduction, and protection against infection. Selenium is found naturally in soil and can be absorbed by plants, which then become a source of selenium for humans and animals.

Health Benefits of Selenium:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Selenium acts as an antioxidant, which helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body. It may help protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
  • Thyroid Health: Selenium is essential for the production of thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism and supports overall energy levels. Adequate selenium intake may help maintain optimal thyroid function.
  • Immune Support: Selenium plays a role in immune function by increasing the activity of certain immune cells and supporting the body's defense against infections and diseases.
  • Reproductive Health: Selenium is important for reproductive health in both men and women. It is involved in sperm production, fertility, and prevention of pregnancy complications.

Recommended Daily Intake:

The recommended daily intake of selenium varies depending on age, gender, and other factors. In the United States, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for selenium is as follows:

  • Infant (0-6 months): 15 micrograms (mcg)
  • Infant (7-12 months): 20 mcg
  • Children (1-3 years): 20 mcg
  • Children (4-8 years): 30 mcg
  • Children (9-13 years): 40 mcg
  • Adolescents (14-18 years): 55 mcg
  • Adults (19 years and older): 55 mcg
  • Pregnant women: 60 mcg
  • Lactating women: 70 mcg

It is important to note that selenium requirements may vary depending on factors such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and certain medical conditions. Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders that affect nutrient absorption may also require increased selenium intake.

Food Sources of Selenium:

Selenium is found naturally in a variety of foods, including:

  • Seafood such as tuna, halibut and sardines
  • meat and poultry
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • Brazil nuts
  • whole grains like wheat and rice
  • legumes such as beans and lentils

Brazil nuts are particularly rich in selenium, with just one nut providing more than the recommended daily intake for most adults. However, the amount of selenium in foods can vary depending on soil conditions and farming practices.

Selenium Deficiency and Toxicity:

While selenium deficiency is rare in most developed countries, it can occur in areas with selenium-poor soil or in individuals with certain health conditions that affect nutrient absorption. Symptoms of selenium deficiency may include fatigue, muscle weakness, cognitive decline and a weakened immune system.

On the other hand, excessive selenium intake can lead to toxicity, called selenosis. Symptoms of selenium toxicity may include gastrointestinal disturbances, hair loss, nail brittleness, and neurological abnormalities. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) of selenium for adults is 400 micrograms per day.

Selenium is an essential nutrient with many health benefits, including antioxidant protection, thyroid support, and immune function. While selenium deficiency is rare, it is important to consume adequate amounts of selenium through a balanced diet that includes selenium-rich foods. Paying attention to recommended daily intake guidelines can help prevent both deficiencies and toxicity, ensuring optimal health and well-being. As always, it is advisable to consult a health care professional or registered dietitian for personalized nutrition advice.