Selenium supplements, what they are and when to take them

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Robert Maurer

Author and references

 , Naturopath


Il selenium it is an essential mineral for life, responsible for synthesis of selenoproteins which are involved in the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Let's discover the natural supplements that contain it.

> Properties of selenium supplements

> Selenium food supplements

> Herbal supplements of selenium

> Selenium supplements on the market

> Daily requirement


Cabbage among the natural food supplements of selenium


Properties of selenium supplements

Selenium is a mineral that performs various functions in the body, such as:

  • È necessario for the reproductive system, in particular for the male one.
  • It prevents prostate cancer.
  • Treatment of bladder cancer.
  • Antioxidant effect and stimulating the immune system.
  • In synergy with vitamin C it acts against infections, especially flu.
  • With copper and high biological value proteins it is useful in the treatment of Kwashiorkor, the protein-caloric malnutrition disease that mainly affects children in some African regions.
  • It is essential for the good functioning of the thyroid gland: Selenium is an essential component of the enzyme system that transforms thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3), and therefore plays an important role in supporting thyroid function.
  • Selenium has a protective effect against heart disease.


Selenium among the natural remedies for thyroidism: discover the others


Selenium food supplements

The best food sources of selenium are large fish such as tuna, but shrimp, sardines, oysters, mussels, mormora, sole, herring and cod are also rich in them.

Among meat, good amounts of selenium are found in the liver and kidney of ox, in the meat of duck, beef, lamb, rabbit and chicken.

Among plant foods cabbage, courgettes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, walnuts and whole grains and bran contain a fair amount of it.

Selenium potatoes are produced by spreading the mineral on the ground at the time of fertilization. Growing in an environment rich in selenium, potatoes accumulate more of the mineral.

Cottage cheese also contains good amounts of selenium.

The selenium present in food in the form of sulfuric selenium amino acids (selenium-cysteine ​​and selenium-methionine) is more absorbable than the selenites and selenates normally contained in food supplements. Selenium acts in synergy with vitamin E, for this reason the two nutritional principles are frequently associated in food supplements with antioxidant action.


Herbal supplements of selenium

A good herbal supplement of selenium is represented by mustard seeds. These, in fact, have a high content of this mineral (208,1 mcg per 100 g of product). In the kitchen the seeds are used to flavor dishes, for sauces and preserves, including mustard. Mustard seeds are spherical, the color varies from brown to cream. They have no scent and their aroma develops only when they are ground and placed in warm water. The flavor is very strong, pungent, and ranges from sweet to spicy.

White mustard seeds are used for store all types of food. Black mustard seeds are spicier and slightly larger and keep shorter. Mustard seeds (but also mustard powder) can be found in herbalist's shops but also in specialty spice shops.


Selenium supplements on the market 

On the market, the best known selenium supplements are those in which selenium is present in organic form (L-selenomethionine), and this guarantees excellent bioavailability.

In fact, the absorption of selenium occurs in the small intestine and depends on the chemical form taken: L-selenomethionine has a bioavailability approximately 1,5 - 2 times higher than inorganic forms, as well as an effective storage system of the selenium in tissues.

Another component of these supplements is the co-presence of another substance that acts in synergy with selenium. This is the BioPerine-Black Pepper, active ingredient of black pepper that improves intestinal absorption of micronutrients such as selenium.


Daily requirement 

The daily requirement of selenium varies according to age and health status:

  • Adults and adolescents (14 and more): It is recommended to consume 55 mcg of selenium per day.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: it is recommended to take 60 mcg of selenium and in breastfeeding 70 mcg per day.
  • Children aged 9 to 13: they only need 40 mcg of selenium per day.
  • Children aged 4 to 8 years: they only need 30 mcg of selenium per day.
  • Children 1-3 years old: they need 20 mcg of selenium per day.
  • Babies and children up to 12 months: they require 15-20 mcg of selenium per day, but normally they get enough from breast milk.

People on a balanced diet usually get enough selenium every day and don't need to take selenium supplements. Usually, selenium supplements should only be used if recommended by a doctor.

A Excessive administration of selenium, in fact, can cause toxicity, called selenosis (hair loss, brittle nails, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, confusion and the smell of garlic on the breath).


Symptoms and causes of selenium deficiency


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