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The Essential Mineral Selenium- Why You Need It, How Much You Need, & What Happens

Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a role in many aspects of human health, including immune function and thyroid hormone metabolism. It'sIt's also involved in DNA synthesis and replication, which helps prevent cancer cells from growing. Selenium deficiency can lead to mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, skin lesions due to hair loss, muscle weakness or spasms (often causing joint pain), fatigue, irritability, and other neurological problems like numbness or tingling in your hands or feet.

What is selenium?

Selenium is a group of minerals that together make up a trace element. Selenium is an essential nutrient, meaning it's necessary for good health and well-being. It'sIt's found in soil, water, plants, and animals.

Selenium plays a role in several biological processes, such as DNA synthesis and antioxidant properties (1). As an antioxidant, selenium can help protect against oxidative stress caused by free radicals—unstable molecules made when your body digests food or is exposed to environmental toxins (2). This can lead to diseases like cancer or heart disease over time if left unchecked. Other roles include regulating thyroid hormone levels and helping form red blood cells.

Why is selenium essential?

Selenium is a trace mineral that the body needs in small amounts. It plays a role in many critical biological processes, including reproduction, thyroid function, and immune system activity.

Selenium is an essential trace mineral; you need it for good health, but your body doesn't make it on its own, so you must get it from food or supplements. Selenium deficiency can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, infertility, and cancer if your doctor or nutritionist leaves it untreated.

What are good dietary sources of selenium?

Selenium can be found in many foods, especially meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, and nuts. The best dietary sources of selenium are Brazil nuts and other nuts rich in minerals. However, most people don't get enough selenium from food alone. Selenium is added to some bread and cereals to boost your daily intake of this trace mineral.

How much selenium do you need?

The RDI is the recommended daily intake of selenium sufficient to meet the needs of 97% of healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender. The UL is the highest level of selenium you can safely consume daily. The UL was determined by reviewing studies on toxicity, which concluded that 400 mcg per day isn't safe for most adults, but may be okay for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

For example:

  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), men need 55 micrograms (mcg), and women need 45 mcg daily. This amount will vary depending on age and gender.

  • If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, your requirement is 70 mcg/day; this amount increases with each additional month during pregnancy until reaching 80 mcg once breastfeeding ends.

What happens if you get too much selenium?

Suppose you're concerned about selenium toxicity; knowing what symptoms to look out for is essential. Selenium toxicity commonly occurs in people with a genetic disorder called Keshan disease. Symptoms include heart and liver disease, fatigue, and breathlessness. If you think you may be suffering from selenium toxicity, see your doctor immediately and ask about stopping the consumption of selenium-rich foods until further notice.

What happens if you don't get enough selenium?

One of the most common symptoms associated with selenium deficiency is hair loss. You may have noticed that if you are experiencing hair loss, your doctor asks whether or not you have been taking in enough selenium. If a person is deficient in this mineral, it can lead to more than just thinning hair; it can also cause nails to become brittle and break easily skin rashes, and digestive problems such as nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn.

Selenium deficiency affects more than just the body's ability to produce healthy cells; it also affects its immunity function by reducing how well the body fights off infections by lowering specific immune cells called neutrophils which help fight bacterial infections.


Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in your body's ability to fight toxins, diseases, and other health problems. It'sIt's also needed to grow and develop bones, muscles, and cartilage. Selenium deficiency is rare in developed countries like the US, where foods like meat, eggs, and cereals are fortified with this nutrient. However, if you don't get enough selenium from food alone or if your body doesn't absorb it well enough, then supplementation may be necessary as well

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