Categories: Minerals

8 shocking health benefits of selenium

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Discover the 8 shocking health benefits of selenium.

Selenium is an essential mineral for the body in small amounts because it has a high antioxidant power that helps prevent diseases such as cancer and strengthen the immune system, in addition to protecting heart health.

Selenium is found in the soil and is present in water and foods such as wheat flour, bread, and egg yolks.

The selenium supplement should be advised by the doctor or nutritionist since excess selenium in the body can have negative effects on health. 

Among the benefits of selenium for the body are:


1. Act as an antioxidant

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce the number of free radicals in the body.

These are formed naturally during body metabolism but can cause damage such as inflammation, disturbances in cell function, and aging.

People who smoke, consume alcoholic beverages regularly, and who live under a lot of stress end up producing a greater amount of free radicals, needing a greater consumption of antioxidant nutrients.

2. Prevent cancer

Being an antioxidant, selenium protects cells against changes in their DNA that generate the formation of tumors, being important to prevent mainly lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

3. Prevent cardiovascular diseases

Selenium reduces the number of inflammatory substances in the body and increases the amount of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

These actions reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood vessels, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and, in turn, of other diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and thrombosis. 


4. Improve thyroid function

The thyroid is the organ that stores the most selenium in the body, as it is essential to promote the conversion of thyroid hormones T4 to T3, regulating their concentration in the body.

Selenium deficiency can lead to conditions such as hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is a type of hyperthyroidism that occurs because defense cells begin to attack the thyroid, reducing its function.

5. Strengthen the immune system

Adequate amounts of selenium in the body help reduce inflammation and improve the immune system, helping even people with diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C to increase their immunity against opportunistic diseases.

6. Could promote weight loss

Being important for the proper functioning of the thyroid, selenium helps prevent hypothyroidism, a disease that slows down metabolism and promotes weight gain.

In addition to this, excess weight causes an inflammatory process in the body, producing dysregulation in the production of satiety hormones.

Therefore, selenium, by acting as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, helps not only to reduce inflammation but also to reduce hormonal alterations related to excess body fat, promoting weight loss.


7. Could prevent Alzheimer’s

By acting as an antioxidant and protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals, selenium helps prevent and reduce the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.

This benefit increases when selenium is consumed from good fat sources, such as Brazil nuts, egg yolks, and chicken, for example.

8. Protection against the harmful action of heavy metals

Selenium interacts with a large number of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, silver, lead, and platinum, being able to modify its toxicity at different levels and prevent possible toxic manifestations caused by exposure to these metals. 

List of foods rich in selenium

Selenium is a mineral present in the soil and, for this reason, its amount in food varies according to the richness of this mineral in the soil, therefore the same food can have different concentrations, depending on where it comes from.

The table below shows the amount of selenium present in 100 g of each food:

Food Amount of Selenium (100 g)


Brazil nut 4000 mcg

Wheat flour 42 mcg

Sesame 34.4 mcg

French bread and flatbread 25 mcg

Cheeses 25 mcg


Yolk 20 mcg


Cashew / Cashew / Merey 19 mcg

Cooked chicken 7 mcg

Egg white 6 mcg

Rice 4 mcg

Milk powder 3 mcg

Beans 3 mcg


Garlic 2 mcg

Cabbage 2 mcg

Banana 1 mcg

Dad 1 mcg

Orange 1 mcg

The selenium present in foods of animal origin is better absorbed by the intestine, compared to the selenium in vegetables, and it is important to vary the diet to obtain a good amount of this mineral.


Recommended daily allowance

The recommended amount of selenium varies according to gender and age, as shown below:

Babies 0 to 6 months: 15 mcg;

Babies 7 months to 3 years: 20 mcg;

Children 4-8 years: 30 mcg;

Youth ages 9 to 13: 40 mcg;

From 14 years: 55 mcg;


Pregnant women: 60 mcg;

Breastfeeding women: 70 mcg.

By having a varied and balanced diet, it is possible to obtain the recommended amounts of selenium naturally through food.

Its supplementation should only be carried out with medical or nutritionist guidance, as its excess can cause damage to health. 

When to take selenium supplements

In general, most people who eat a varied diet get the recommended amounts of selenium to stay healthy, but in some cases, its deficiency is more common, such as those with HIV, Crohn’s disease, and people who eat a healthy diet. through intravenous nutritive serums.

In these cases, the doctor or nutritionist may prescribe the use of selenium supplements.


Risks of excess selenium

Excess selenium in the body can cause serious problems such as shortness of breath, fever, nausea, and malfunction of organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart.

Very high amounts can even lead to death, so its supplement should be done under medical or nutritionist guidance


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