Seven Amazing Benefits of the Super Mineral Selenium

By: Cat Ebeling, RN, MSN-PHN, co-author of the best-sellers:  The Fat Burning KitchenThe Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix

We often hear of the benefits of magnesium—and there are many. But minerals tend to be an underestimated necessity for optimal health. In fact, certain minerals are called “essential” for our health, and selenium is one of those.

Selenium is considered a trace mineral; one that doesn’t require large doses to make a difference, but yet it is essential for optimal health. Selenium pairs up with vitamin E to become a even more powerful antioxidant in the body. It is also vital to the thyroid gland and proper thyroid function. It works alongside vitamin C, helping to protect the body’s immune system, and is a powerful antioxidant to help create the master antioxidant called glutathione.

Let’s take a look at some of the scientifically proven ways that this powerful mineral protects your health.

1. Thyroid Healthblank

Selenium works with iodine to protect and maintain proper functioning of the thyroid hormone, which governs metabolism, including fat-burning, in the body. Your body utilizes two primary types of thyroid hormone, T3 and T4. The body must convert T4 into the more usable form of T3 in order to put it to use.

The thyroid gland contains the largest amount of selenium in our bodies and it is essential for the thyroid gland to produce T3. When your body runs low on selenium, it cannot convert T4 into T3, which can lead to a condition of low thyroid or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is characterized by weight gain, loss of energy, loss of hair, puffiness, poor digestion and sometimes anemia. Supplementing with selenium can help reverse or lessen the effects of hypothyroid symptoms and bring the thyroid back into healthy status.

Another malfunction of the thyroid gland results from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing a combination of problems including hyperactive thyroid and hypothyroid. This study on 6,000 people found low levels of selenium were associated with an increased risk of Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism.

Increasing selenium will slow down the anti-thyroid activity of the immune system and help it to function more normally. Selenium also helps with thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease. Additionally, studies show that selenium supplements also benefit people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.

2. A Powerful Antioxidant

Antioxidants are those powerful compounds in foods that fight disease, helping us stay young, protecting our DNA, and fighting free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are those harmful byproducts of normal living that comes from excess inflammation, stress, toxins and a poor diet.

Too much oxidative stress can lead to diseases like heart disease, strokes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and early aging. Many foods contain high levels of antioxidants, but foods and supplements with selenium work best to combat oxidative stress and protect the body.

3. Prevents Cancerblank

Even in trace amounts, selenium wields amazing power preventing and fighting cancer. There is a strong correlation between levels of selenium in the blood and the risk of certain cancers. This is thought to be because selenium helps with our cells’ ability to repair DNA. When DNA is damaged, normal cells do not reproduce properly, and cancer cells may appear instead.

One article that appeared in a prominent cancer journal stated that “the possible benefits of selenium in humans is supported by extensive literature … indicating that low, non-toxic levels of selenium can protect against cancer.”

This review of multiple studies on selenium found that having higher blood levels of selenium protected well against breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers. Antioxidants are one of the best types of weapons to use against cancer, and since selenium is such a serious antioxidant, it stands to reason that it is an extremely valuable tool to fight cancer.

Most studies, however, show that eating foods high in selenium is more helpful to fight cancer than just taking a selenium supplement. This may be due to the fact that selenium’s effect is magnified when consumed with other disease-fighting nutrients.

4. Heart Healthblank

A diet rich in selenium may prevent heart disease, as studies show that low selenium levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. In this analysis of 25 observational studies, increasing selenium levels by 50% was corelated with a 24% reduction in heart disease.

Heart disease is associated with high levels of inflammation which causes plaque to build up in the blood vessels as a result. Selenium lowers inflammation in the body which helps lower the chances of plaque buildup and blood clots that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Selenium’s powerful antioxidant capability and its ability to lessen oxidative damage also protect against the buildup of plaque in blood vessels which contribute to heart disease and strokes.

C-Reactive Protein or CRP, is an inflammatory marker in the body that usually signals the potential for heart disease. 16 different studies on over 400,000 people with heart disease showed that taking selenium supplements decreased CRP, and therefore significantly reduced heart disease and strokes as well.

Incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet is a great way to keep levels of oxidative stress and inflammation to a minimum.

5. Powers up the Immune System

Our immune systems perform a variety of life-preserving functions such as fighting off dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Our immune systems also fight infection and help to heal wounds on the body as well. When the immune system goes awry, it can become overactive and attack the body. This becomes autoimmune disease, which can manifest in various systems.

Selenium’s antioxidant capabilities lower inflammation and protect the immune system by lowering oxidative stress. The immune systems then begins to respond appropriately and enhances immunity to disease, infection, and lessens autoimmune flareups.

A selenium deficiency slows the immune response to fighting infections. Patients who are fighting more serious infections such as influenza A, tuberculosis and hepatitis C can also benefit from selenium supplements.

6. Improves Asthma

Asthma is an inflammatory response to allergens and other types of inflammatory agents, including those in the diet and the environment. When bronchial tubes become inflamed, they can constrict or spasm causing coughing, wheezing, and extreme shortness of breath. This can become a life-threatening condition.

Normal medical treatment for asthma is corticosteroids in the form of inhalers to dampen the inflammatory response and to help ease up airways. Steroid treatment has many unpleasant side effects and long term use is not good for health.

Since asthma is associated with high levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, selenium helps to lessen these symptoms and help the asthmatic person breathe more easily.

This study showed that asthmatic patients with higher levels of selenium in the blood had better lung function than those with lower levels. Patients given 200mcg of selenium a day were able to reduce their usage of steroid medications to help with their breathing.

7. Testosterone and Fertilityblank

Selenium has been thought to increase testosterone in males, but a study published in The Journal of Urology looked at the effects of selenium supplementation on testosterone levels in infertile males.

While the selenium supplementation had little effect on testosterone levels, it did increase sperm motility and blood flow, two important components for conception. Selenium is found in the sperm mitochondria and can affect the behavior and proper function of sperm as they move through the vagina to fertilize an ovum.

For women, it’s thought that selenium can help to reduce the chances of miscarriage as well, but more research on this is still needed.

While low selenium levels cause problems with fertility, too high of levels of selenium can affect fertility as well, so it’s important to be sure to get the correct dosage, and don’t overdo it.

How Do you Know if You Need Selenium?blank

Selenium in food comes from the soil, and food levels depend on where your food is grown. People who are at great risk include those who do not eat many fresh vegetables, or who live in parts of China or Europe where there are low levels in the soil.

People who are undergoing kidney dialysis, or who have serious illnesses such as HIV may also need more selenium. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the portion of the small intestine that assimilates nutrients are also at risk for selenium deficiency.

Symptoms include:

• Low thyroid/Hashimoto’s thyroid
Weak immune system
• Infertility
• Brain fog
Hair loss

The best way to get selenium is from the food you eat. Foods that carry plentiful amounts of selenium include Brazil nuts (contain high levels of selenium so it only a few), halibut, yellow fin tuna, oysters, sunflower seeds, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, eggs, and sardines.

The current daily recommendation is 55 micrograms per day for adults and children over the age of four. Pregnant and nursing women need about 70 micrograms.

While selenium is an essential mineral, you only need small amounts of it. Intakes of selenium that are too high can be very harmful. Signs of too much selenium include hair and nail loss or brittleness, skin lesions or rashes, nausea, irritability and nervous system issues.

Also be careful with interactions with other medications and supplements including niacin, antacids, chemotherapy, steroids, statins and birth control pills. But these interactions mostly have to do with supplemental selenium not from food.


About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

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  1. Maria Leon Rivera

    I am disappointed because when I try to open it says
    Not Secure and doesn’t open any page of your email

  2. Great information. I have been working with blood pressure being a family trait and getting to the root of the problem in myself for 18 years.
    Is there any way of testing the body to find current needs for supplementation? I have been playing the “hit or miss” game for 40 years. I am looking for an inexpensive, “know it now” , uninvasive , easy test, accessible to anyone so we can help ouselves stay healthy BEFORE our bodies become sick and produce symptoms. Thanks. I will help in any way I can. I am not looking for any glory. I would like to be a driving force to help others get away from chemicals that do more damage than good.

    • Spectra cell does a full blood work up to determine all levels. You can usually order the kit and take it to a blood draw place to have them run it, and results get sent to you.

  3. Hiram Medrano Roldan

    Excellent information. As a matter of fact it can be used for keeping your health in a good level, specifically against the cancer presence

  4. How long would an asthmatic take the 200 mcg doe od Selenium, given that the RDA is 55 mcg? And, how many mcgs would 2-4 Brazil nuts supply, approximately, of course?

    Also, a friend has increasingly low platelet counts (60,000) with no corollary diagnosis as all the tests show normal function. The tests have been intensive bloodwork, and every kind of scan imaginable. Would Selenium be helpful? The phlebologist and also an oncolologist specializing in blood illnesses have not been able to pinpoint a cause. Could you suggest a better specialist?

    Thank you!

  5. I’m very interested and would love to try this fabulous mineral 🎄

  6. Hi, I am currently taking 350 mcg of Selenium.
    Is that too low, because I was told to take only 400 mcg/day, and over that, could be toxic to your system?

  7. I am interested

  8. Dr. Joel Wallach of Youngevity Products says that selenium is important in preventing SIDS. Due to his information most food for babies now include selenium.

    He also proved medically that 200mcg of selenium a day can help prevent breast cancer.

    I believe cancer is cancer no matter where it is in the body so that amount probably can help prevent any cancer in the body for males and females. I heard on YouTube a doctor from Europe say a few years back that whenever a person with cancer came to him he would put them on selenium and it would stop and reverse it.

    Unfortunately our food does not contain selenium because it and most herbs are no longer in our soils unless we add it when planting vegetables.

  9. Would selleinium help with eith palpitations and high bp

  10. I was told by a Australian naturopath who is health director of a health farm “Selenium will leach Mercury out of the body” and indeed she is correct. I have had three Oligoscan tests and there is a sea saw effect between Selenium on the mineral results and Mercury on the heavy metal results.

    However you have to take a lot more selenium to get rid of a little more mercury, and if you take too much selenium it goes toxic as the test says above, in my notes some of the other minerals not to over dose in is Vitamin A,D,E or K. I am sure there are many more.

    • sorry third line from the bottom should read “it goes toxic as the text says above,”

    • Sheereen Chandani

      Eric..vitamin A,D,E,K are fat soluble vitamins..minerals include organic and inorganic forms which are water soluble..both organic and inorganic forms of minerals have their own benefits..plant derived and lab manufuctured..
      i don’t think we need a blood test or labwork to tell us about our levels..if we have horrible, debilitating symptoms or even mild symptoms that we would like to improve, supplementation is always a good idea..provided we know how to combine them and how to take them.

      even mild symptoms such as poor hair or vision or skin or anxiety or prevention are good reasons to consume these products.

      the beauty of these supplements is they can be used by people who are healthy, and people who are dying.

      the only reliable test is your own body and an expert in natural medicine/scientific studies /someone with their own personal learning journeys/curves(learning curve after trial and errors) sharing their knowledge and recommendations with you!!!

  11. I would like to know how it losses weight

  12. I’m interest start the use this mineral and how to get it

  13. Right on, had it done

  14. I prefer foods over supplements. However, I only would eat 2 of the foods listed for selenium…the sunflower seeds and the brazil nuts. How much of these should I eat daily to avoid taking too much? If it makes any difference, I am taking 25MCG Levothyroxine & 80 MG Avorvastatin currently. Thank you.

    • No more than 3 Brazil nuts per day…. And do take care because these nuts don’t have a great shelf life and become rancid quickly. Rancid Brazil nuts are not healthy.


  16. Rosemary Lyttleton

    Selenium is also low in the soil of the Pacific Northwest.

  17. Muscle testing is a great way to ask your body what you need as the body can answer yes or no to any question.

  18. Game-changer for Hypothyroidism!

  19. Thanks for the info! I have hypothyroidism but doc didn’t mention selenium! I want to get off of prescriptions!

  20. What is good for kidney stones?

  21. Bravo for the info. Selenium is a life saver.

  22. My 8yr old granddaughter got diagnosed with Hashimoto disease. The endocrinologist is monitoring her and has not given her any medication yet. Would the mineral selenium help her? and how much of it?

    Concerned grandma

  23. Will Selenium work if I have Eczema also plaque Psoriasis . Never had it before in my life . Have had it for nine months now . All over my body. Please Help !!!!!!!!!

    • Here’s what our doc said for this issue—and she was right. It worked “You need NESS Enzymes to help you detox. You’re pulling more toxins out of the body than can be efficiently processed.”

      • Sheereen Chandani

        Anne, enzymes, especially proteolytic enzymes mess up your natural enzymes functioning, and accelerate cancer. They also caused your collagen to break down causing irreversible damage. I wish they never sold any form of enzymes on the market.

    • I was just told by doctor I have Eczema, like you I’ve never had it before either. I have been taking selenium lately but haven’t seen any results. Prayer and Benedryl help with itchyness. It says to avoid citrus and dairy, also some nuts and tomatoes, hope this helps.

  24. Judith Armbruster

    I have a short gut after multiple bowel problems – no colon at all, and a short small bowel. I have taken Levoxithyrizine for hypothyroid, and I take supplements A, D, Cal Mg zinc. Candesartan for BP and myrbetric for bladder issues after having my bladder rebuilt after having sections of my bowel removed. So much scar tissue!
    The hair loss has been bad but I am 72 so somewhat expected and genetically assisted.

  25. Thank you for providing benefits of Selenium. I shall start using it, as it fits my problem.

  26. Halldora Betty Harbeintner

    I would love to know more a bout it and see if it could help my hart

  27. Very informative article about Selenium. Thanks.

  28. I have Hyperthyroidism and very high iron (now removing blood every month to remove it. What strength of Selenium should I take? I do eat Brazil nuts but not every day.

  29. I decided upon my own to take Selenium. It didn’t sit too well with me. After a few days, I was on it, I had an upset stomach with diarrhea. I was told that you have to be careful when you take it. What would you recommend as far strength and should I get my doctor’s permission to take it? I am on quite a number of meds and I don’t want to see any problems.

    • Rome Mcc,
      For liver detox, dandelion greens (soak in water with one tsp apple cider vinegar and rinse). Avocado, asparagus, citrus fruit are good. Avocado prompts liver to expel fat. Avoid chemical cleaners and things toxic to liver.

  30. I like to know how to clean the liver and kidneys. Do you have any supplements that can do that, if so how much ?

  31. John H. Henderson Jr.

    I believe i need these kind of minerals

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