Selenium is an essential trace element that can not be produced by the human body, therefore it must be supplied to the organism through our diet.

It works as a great antioxidant that fights free radicals and prevents cellular degeneration.

It activates and stabilises the immune system, promoting a more rapid healing of diseases. Selenium generates antibodies that defend the body from any attack. Clinical studies have shown that selenium inhibits the emergence of tumour cells.

Selenium is essential to the human body: it is involved in cell metabolism, provides energy, helps to prevent the onset of diseases, and protects the body from the damage produced by free radicals.

Table of contents

What is selenium?

  • It is an essential trace element¡
  • It is found primarily in muscle, the kidneys and the liver. The total amount of selenium in the human body is approximately 10-15 mg. Selenium levels can be detected with a blood test
  • It is a basic element of various enzymes

Selenium properties


It protects cells from the harmful effects caused by free radicals and UV rays, which can damage cell walls and the genotype. Selenium also blocks oxidative stress and the negative charge of toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.

In addition, it strengthens the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory effects and is involved in the optimal functioning of the thyroid gland.

What food contains selenium?

Selenium is found especially in food products of animal origin, such as meat (particularly liver and kidney), fish, seafood and milk. Selenium-rich vegetable foods include walnuts, brazil nuts and vegetables.

The amount of this mineral provided through the diet varies considerably according to each area or region, so taking selenium supplements is recommended in order to prevent a deficiency in the body.

What symptoms are caused by a selenium deficiency?

The lack of this essential trace element has different effects on the body and can lead to very serious problems.

Selenium deficiency can manifest itself through the following symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness, difficulty walking
  • Increased susceptibility to infections, such as colds
  • Scales on the skin
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness and poor appearance of the hair and nails

Intake and recommended doses of selenium

To ensure the optimum intake that an adult needs to stay healthy, between 30 and 70 microgrammes of selenium should be consumed daily. Since its provision through food can very much depend on each area or specific region, taking dietary supplements to ensure the necessary amount is recommended.

The need for selenium may be higher in certain groups of people, depending on their state of health or the illnesses that they may suffer from. The additional intake of vitamins A, C and E, may enhance the effects of selenium on the organism.

A good method for strengthening the immune system and increasing defences, consists in taking selenium in combination with zinc.

Selenium is available in several forms: selenate, selenocysteine, selenomethionine, ion trimetilselenium, selenoeter, selenobetaine or dimethyl selenide.

Who is selenium important for?

In certain situations or for some people in particular, there may be a greater need to increase selenium levels. Clinical studies have shown that it is an important aid in the treatment of various diseases.

An additional intake of selenium is therefore advised in the following cases:

  • Pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding
  • People with a weak immune system
  • Vegans, that only consume proteins of vegetable origin
  • Patients with tumours
  • Men with lazy sperm or asthenozoospermia
  • Women with heavy menstruation
  • Dialysis patients
  • Patients with diabetes mellitus
  • People with heart disease
  • Patients with a chronic intestinal disease
  • People who have a high alcohol consumption 
  • People who follow an unvaried or unhealthy diet
  • As protection against oxidative stress
  • As protection against solar radiation
  • For people who smoke

Opinion of nutritionists and experts on selenium:

1. It strengthens the immune system

A proper selenium intake, combined with a balanced diet and regular physical exercise, is an important factor for the production of antibodies that the body needs. Selenium fortifies the defences and reduces inflammation, protecting the body from the onset of disease.

2. It prevents cellular degeneration

Clinical studies have shown that it has a positive effect on medication tolerance and radiation therapy used to treat cancer. It also has a preventive effect against the development of cancer, because of the defence it provides against free radicals. In particular, it has been shown that having sufficient levels of selenium significantly reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer.

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