Home About AllHealth Website Sitemap Contact Us
All Health 
You are here: Home > Men's Health > Prostate - cancer (hidden) [29.5.2] > selenium in diet


selenium in diet

Selenium is an essential mineral that works as part of an important antioxidant enzyme. The body only needs a very small amount of selenium. The amount is measured in micrograms (mcg). The highest concentrations of selenium in the body are found in the liver, kidney, heart, and spleen.

What food source is the nutrient found in? 
Good sources of selenium include:
  • seafood
  • lean red meat
  • whole (unrefined) grains
  • eggs
  • chicken
  • organ meats
  • garlic
  • some nuts and seeds
The amount of selenium in food depends on the amount of selenium in the soil those foods were grown in. The amount of selenium in some foods is:
  • low-fat milk (1 cup) = 3.6 mcg
  • whole-grain cereal (1 serving) = 12.3 mcg
  • seafood (100 grams) = 37.9 mcg
How does the nutrient affect the body? 
Selenium's main role is as part of an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. Selenium works with the antioxidant vitamin E. Adequate amounts of selenium can reduce the need for vitamin E. They work together to protect the body's cells from free radicals. Free radicals cause damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. Selenium is essential for normal development of the foetus during pregnancy. It may also protect from the toxic effects of heavy metals, such as lead poisoning.

Scientists are studying a possible link between cancer and low selenium intake. Those with liver disorders seem to have low levels of selenium when compared to people with healthy liver function. People with breast cancer also have lower levels of selenium than do healthy subjects. In theory, selenium protects against both cancer and heart disease. This is because it is an antioxidant.

The adult recommended daily intakes, or RDI, for selenium are:
  • men (age 19 years and older) - 55 mcg
  • women (age 19 years and older) - 55 mcg
  • pregnant women - 60 mcg
  • breastfeeding mothers - 70mcg
Getting too much selenium is not healthy. High levels of selenium can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair and nail loss, lesions of the skin and nervous system, and possibly damage to teeth.

Author: Kimberly Tessmer, RD, LD
Reviewer: eknowhow Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 8/11/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


Back Email a Friend View Printable Version Bookmark This Page


eknowhow | The World's Best Websites
    Privacy Policy and Disclaimer