Have a question? This is a fact sheet intended for health professionals. For a reader-friendly overview of Selenium, see our consumer fact sheet on Selenium. Selenium is a trace element that is naturally present in many foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection [ 1 ]. Selenium exists in two forms: inorganic selenate and selenite and organic selenomethionine and selenocysteine [ 2 ]. Both forms can be good dietary sources of selenium [ 3 ]. Soils contain inorganic selenites and selenates that plants accumulate and convert to organic forms, mostly selenocysteine and selenomethionine and their methylated derivatives. Most selenium is in the form of selenomethionine in animal and human tissues, where it can be incorporated nonspecifically with the amino acid methionine in body proteins.
Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. What do you think of when you hear selenium? Selenium is a trace mineral. Your body needs it for lots of important functions like. Animal foods tend to be the best sources of selenium — particularly meat and seafood. But lots of grain-based foods like bread, pasta, and cereal are enriched with selenium, making it easier for you to get what you need. Selenium deficiency is fairly rare in the United States these days.
Get selenium in how diet to
Selenium is a trace mineral, which means that the body only needs a small amount of it. It is found naturally in foods or as a supplement. Selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins, called selenoproteins, that help to make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections; these proteins are also involved in reproduction and the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Most selenium in the body is stored in muscle tissue, although the thyroid gland holds the highest concentration of selenium due to various selenoproteins that assist with thyroid function. Women who are pregnant and lactating need about 60 and 70 micrograms daily, respectively. Selenium is a component of selenoproteins and enzymes. These have antioxidant properties that help to break down peroxides, which can damage tissues and DNA, leading to inflammation and other health problems. Another Cochrane review of 83 randomized placebo-controlled trials did not find that selenium supplementation reduced the risk of any cancer type. In addition, some of the trials noted a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes with long-term use of selenium supplements about 7 years who had normal selenium blood levels at the start the of study. Further research is needed to replicate this finding. Additional research is needed on the association of selenium and cancer before making specific dietary recommendations.