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Selenium – Bridgeford’s Best Bites: Nutrition Tips

Blog photo cropped


Selenium is an essential trace mineral, needed in small amounts in the body. The level of selenium in plant foods depends on the soil it is grown in and varies greatly in different parts of the world. Most areas of UK, Finland, New Zealand and parts of China are low in selenium. UK used to import wheat from selenium rich Canada. In recent years European wheat is being used and average daily selenium intake has dropped to below the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).

Signs and Symptoms of Deficiency:

Deficiency is tested by measuring activity of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which helps protect against oxidative damage.

  • Age spots
  • Cancerous changes
  • Cataracts
  • Heart Disease
  • Infections
  • Impaired growth
  • Inflamed muscles
  • Pale fingernail beds
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Reduced ability to detoxify
  • Reduced fertility
  • Susceptibility to viral infections

Low selenium can be a factor in:

  • Anemia: in association with low serum retinol (vitamin A)
  • Depression: selenium is important for brain function
  • HIV is thought to be more likely to develop into AIDS when selenium is low

Free Radicals, Oxidative Damage, Anti-Oxidants

Free radicals are derived from normal metabolic processes in the body and from external sources such as X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoking, air pollutants, and industrial chemicals. They are highly reactive and can damage DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids causing cell damage and homeostatic disruption, including suppressing the immune system. They are controlled in the body by anti-oxidants, selenium being one which has an impact on:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: reduced cognitive abilities
  • Epilepsy: low levels of selenium can be a factor in development of epilepsy

Selenium Functions:

  • Anti-Cancer
  • DNA repair
  • Needed for glutathione peroxidase enzyme: protect against oxidative damage
  • Immune system: neutrophils, macrophages, NK cells, T lymphocytes and other immune mechanisms
  • Inflammation: prostaglandin production
  • Works together with vitamin E
  • Thyroid hormone activation

Health Risks from Excessive Selenium

  • Early indicators of excess intake are a garlic odor of the breath and a metallic taste in the mouth
  • Hair and nail loss or brittleness
  • Lesions of skin and nervous system, nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, mottled teeth, fatigue, irritability
  • Acute selenium toxicity can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms, acute respiratory distress syndrome, myocardial infarction, hair loss, muscle tenderness, tremors, lightheadedness, facial flushing, kidney failure, cardiac failure, and, in rare cases, death.

Adding Selenium to your diet (RDA is 55mcg)

  • Brazil nuts: 3oz (20-24 nuts) 1632mcg, 1 nut approx 77mcg
  • Fish and Shellfish: 3oz tuna 92mcg, halibut 45mcg, shrimp 40mcg
  • Meat and Offal (depending on the selenium levels in their feed): 3oz ham 42mcg, beef 33mcg, turkey 31mcg, chicken 22 mcg
  • Cereals (except Western Europe and New Zealand): 1cup rice 19mcg, oatmeal 13mcg, slice of whole wheat bread 13mcg


We are happy to advise you on your health matters.

Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher

Aether Bios Clinic
Saltdean Brighton

01273 309557
07710 227038

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