Description Selenium is an essential trace element.
Function/ Used for Selenium is part of an antioxidant system. It protects the body’s cells from damage and helps maintain the body’s defence system.

Selenium also works in conjunction with vitamin E and is a component of many enzymes.

Selenium also helps contribute to sperm formation, is important for thyroid function, immunity, as well as helping to keep hair and nails healthy.

Intake Recommended Intake

EU NRV: 55µg

UK average daily intake

Requirements vary depending on age and gender. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey lists up-to-date intake requirements and average intakes1.

As a supplement Available as a single supplement. Also commonly available as part of a multivitamin and mineral formula.

Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.

Found in (dietary sources) Good sources include whole wheat, meat, eggs, offal, fish, shellfish and Brazil nuts.

In plant foods, selenium content is affected by the selenium content of the soil in which the plants have been grown.

Deficiency Deficiency has been associated with muscle pain and tenderness and some cases of cardiomyopathy (a group of diseases that affect the heart muscle).
Precautions and contraindications Safe Upper Level: 350µg2
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding There is no evidence of adverse effects in pregnancy from normal intakes.
Interactions e.g. with other medications Yeast-containing selenium products should be avoided by people taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (used for the treatment of depression).

The anti-psychotic drug Clozapine may reduce selenium levels.

Oral corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory drug, may increase loss of selenium in urine.3,4

Adverse effects Adverse effects reported include hair loss, nail changes, skin lesions, nausea, diarrhoea, irritability, metallic taste, garlic-smelling breath, fatigue and peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the extremities of the body such as feet and hands).2
References 1.     https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey

2.     Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.

3.     Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.

4.     Gaby, A. R. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions.  HealthNotes 2006.


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