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Selenium: what are its benefits and in which foods is it found?

Selenium is both a trace element and a bio element that is absolutely essential for health. What exactly is it, what does it do and where is it found?
Offal, shrimps, eggs and nuts rich in selenium
Essential for health, selenium is found in a variety of different foods.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2020-09-02Comments (0)

A highly specific metalloid trace element

Selenium is a chemical element with the symbol Se, discovered by Swedish chemists in the 19th century. It is closely related to tellurium, a compound named after Tellus, the Roman goddess of the earth. Similarly, the name selenium is taken from Selene, the Roman goddess of the moon.

Light-sensitive, selenium has been used for many years to produce the photoelectric light meters in cameras and is still used for making photovoltaic or solar cells. In dermatology, selenium sulphide is used as anantifungal, etc. In short, it’s a remarkable metalloid with multiple properties.

It took several years of research before it was discovered that selenium was naturally present in soil everywhere in the world to a greater or lesser degree. This is how it finds its way into our diet: it is first taken up by plants and then by the animals that eat them.

An antioxidant, pro-immunity mineral, good for the hair and nails ...

Which is obviously a good thing, given that it’s essential for normal physiological function.

In fact, it is a precursor of certain enzymes the key function of which is to scavenge free radicals. As such, selenium plays an important role in promoting the longevity of our cells, which is why it’s considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants you can consume. (1-2).

According to the European Food Safety Authority, selenium helps to:

Which foods are high in selenium?

The best source is seafood: monkfish, oysters, mackerel, tuna, sardines, mussels, scallops, and lobster are all high in selenium.

It is also found in meat, offal and eggs, as well as in oilseeds and nuts such as macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and almonds.

However, the precise levels of selenium in each of these foods is usually impossible to predict. Knowing exactly how much selenium is provided by a particular foodstuff requires detailed analysis. Indeed, the amount of selenium present in food depends on its level in the soil and distribution of selenium is uneven.

Daily intake and selenium supplements

The recommended daily intake of selenium is normally around 200 mcg.

We’d therefore recommend the supplement L-Selenomethionine which provides exactly this amount each day.

Note: selenium supplements should not, however, be taken continuously or at excessive doses.


  1. Selenium and human health, Prof Margaret P, Rayman DPhil, The Lancet, Volume 379, Issue 9822, 31 March–6 April 2012, Pages 1256-1268
  2. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1220
  3. The role of selenium in thyroid hormone metabolism, John R. Arthur, Revue canadienne de physiologie et pharmacologie, 1991, 69(11): 1648-1652, https://doi.org/10.1139/y91-243


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