Selenium has gotten more attention recently because of its role as an antioxidant in the body and ability to help men with prostate issues. While not ubiquitous in the food supply, several food sources are extremely rich and selenium needs can be easily met without much forethought. The RDA is currently set at 55 mcg per day. Men with prostate issues or those with a high exposure to free radicals or oxidative damage may require more, but supplementation or high consumption warrants caution because it can be toxic even from food sources.

Functions

  • Protection against hydrogen peroxide and free radicals
  • Thyroid hormone production
  • Component of endogenous antioxidant systems

Primary deficiency symptoms and diseases

  • Myalgias
  • Cardiac myopathy
  • Poor growth
  • Abnormal sulfur metabolism
  • Lowered endogenous antioxidant status

Food sources

Selenium is quite easy to get with certain food sources, but care should be taken if one is on a restrictive diet. Avoid excessive consumption of foods like Brazil nuts, as selenium toxicity can result if they are consumed in large amounts over a period of time.

  • Brazil nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole grains

Supplementation

Most people will not need to supplement with selenium, but it may aid those who have a low capacity for endogenous antioxidants, have restrictive diets against selenium rich foods, or for men with prostate issues.

  • Selenomethionine (preferred source)
  • Selenium bound yeast
  • Sodium selenite

Who needs it most?

  • People receiving perenteral (tube feeding) nutrition
  • Deficiency from Keshan disease
  • Men with prostate issues

Other tips

Selenium toxicity is real and can be scary. Avoid excessive supplementation or consumption of foods like Brazil nuts.