Food Sources High In Selenium

  • Margaret Musanga Malenya Bachelor of Science - BS, Physical Therapy/Therapist, Universidad CEU San Pablo, Madrid, Spain


When it comes to our health, we all know that eating a balanced diet is crucial. One essential mineral that often flies under the radar but plays a significant role in supporting our body's functions is selenium. This trace mineral is like a superhero in our bodies, defending us against harmful free radicals, boosting our immune system, and even helping our thyroid function properly. 

Let's dive into the world of selenium-rich foods and discover how we can easily incorporate them into our diets.

Why selenium matters

Picture selenium as your body's little guardian, standing tall against the enemies of oxidative stress and cell damage. This mineral is a crucial component of antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases, which help protect our cells from harm caused by those pesky free radicals.

But that's not all! Selenium also has our backs when it comes to our immune system. It enhances the activity of our immune cells, equipping them to tackle infections and keep us healthy and strong. And when it comes to our thyroid, selenium is the unsung hero, ensuring that our metabolism, energy levels, and overall growth and development are all on point.

Recommended daily intake

Like any superhero, selenium has its recommended daily intake to keep things in balance. Depending on your age, sex, and life stage, the daily recommended intake of selenium varies. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Infants (0-6 months): 15 mcg
  • Infants (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 females: 60 mcg
  • Lactating females: 70 mcg

Selenium-rich food sources

Now that we know how essential selenium is, let's find out where we can get our superhero fix!

Brazil nuts

Looking for a nutty sidekick to your daily diet? Look no further than Brazil nuts! Just a small handful (about 6-8 nuts) will give you a staggering 544 mcg of selenium, surpassing your daily recommended intake. They're not just tasty but also a fantastic addition to salads and yoghurt.

Fish and seafood

If you're a fan of the ocean's bounty, you're in for a treat. Fish and seafood are excellent sources of selenium. You can count on yellowfin tuna to provide around 92 mcg of selenium per 3-ounce serving. Sardines, shrimp, and salmon are also good choices that won't disappoint.


Chicken and turkey to the rescue! These poultry options offer a healthy dose of selenium. A 3-ounce serving of roasted chicken breast provides about 22 mcg of selenium, while turkey breast boasts around 25 mcg in the same amount.


Eggs are an eggcellent choice for a selenium boost! One large egg has approximately 15 mcg of selenium. Scramble, poach, or make a sunny-side-up breakfast to kick-start your day.

Sunflower seeds

These tiny powerhouses are a delicious and nutritious snack option that also packs a punch of selenium. A mere ounce of roasted sunflower seeds contains around 19 mcg of selenium. Toss them in salads or simply munch on them for a satisfying crunch.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds have earned their superhero status as a superfood. They are rich in various nutrients, including selenium. Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your smoothies or sprinkle them over your morning oatmeal for a nutrient boost.

Whole grains

Fuel up with selenium-rich whole grains. Brown rice, quinoa, and oats are excellent choices, providing approximately 19 mcg, 8 mcg, and 13 mcg of selenium per cooked cup, respectively.


Shiitake and white button mushrooms come to the rescue as selenium-rich allies. One cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms offers about 10 mcg of selenium, while white button mushrooms provide around 8 mcg in the same amount.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes are nutrient-packed and supportive sidekicks in your diet. Black beans, kidney beans, and lentils offer around 13 mcg, 11 mcg, and 7 mcg of selenium per cooked cup, respectively.

Meat (beef and pork)

Beef and pork are delicious sources of selenium, with approximately 15-20 mcg per 3-ounce serving.

Selenium deficiency and toxicity

Just like every superhero, selenium has its challenges. Selenium deficiency is rare in well-nourished populations, but it can occur in regions where the soil lacks selenium. If you experience muscle weakness, fatigue, compromised immune function, or thyroid imbalances, it's essential to consider your selenium intake.

On the flip side, too much of this good thing can lead to selenosis, a condition caused by excessive selenium intake. Symptoms may include hair loss, brittle nails, gastrointestinal disturbances, and nervous system issues. Moderation is key, so avoid overconsumption of selenium supplements.


Why is selenium essential for our health?

Selenium is a critical trace mineral that supports various bodily functions. It plays a vital role in antioxidant defence, helps boost the immune system, and is necessary for proper thyroid function. Additionally, selenium is essential for maintaining reproductive health in both males and females.

What are some common symptoms of selenium deficiency?

Selenium deficiency is relatively rare but may lead to several health issues. Common symptoms include muscle weakness, fatigue, hair loss, compromised immune function, and changes in thyroid hormone levels. It's essential to consume selenium-rich foods to prevent deficiency and maintain overall health.

Can I get enough selenium from plant-based sources alone?

Yes, it is possible to get enough selenium from plant-based sources. Brazil nuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes are excellent plant-based options rich in selenium. However, it's essential for vegetarians and vegans to plan their diets carefully to ensure they meet their daily selenium needs.

Is it possible to consume too much selenium from food?

It is unlikely to consume excessive selenium from natural food sources alone. However, taking high-dose selenium supplements can lead to selenium toxicity (selenosis), which may cause adverse health effects. It's best to get selenium from a balanced diet rather than relying on supplements unless advised by a healthcare professional.

Can selenium-rich foods help prevent certain health conditions?

A5: While selenium-rich foods are beneficial for overall health, they are not a guarantee against specific health conditions. However, maintaining a balanced diet that includes selenium-rich foods can support a healthy immune system and antioxidant defence, reducing the risk of certain diseases. Remember that overall lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and stress management, also play crucial roles in disease prevention.


Selenium is your body's unsung superhero, protecting your cells, boosting your immune system, and supporting your thyroid function. Incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet is a simple and effective way to ensure you're getting your daily dose of this essential mineral. Whether it's a handful of Brazil nuts, a serving of fish or chicken, or a sprinkle of chia seeds, you have plenty of delicious options to choose from.

Let's embrace the power of selenium-rich foods and keep our bodies healthy and thriving. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or supplement routine. So, suit up with your selenium allies and embark on a journey to a healthier and more vibrant life!


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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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