Selenium Foods: Make Sure You Get Enough of This Nutrient

Learn how eating these selenium foods can help improve your health in numerous ways.

selenium foods

Each day, you should get the recommended daily allowance for selenium, which is 55 mcg (micrograms) per day for adults.

ID 119331345 © Airborne77 |

It’s important to make sure your diet contains sufficient amounts of the selenium, an important trace element that is necessary for healthy brain, immune system, thyroid, reproductive, and lung function. Make sure these selenium foods play a starring role in your regular diet.

11 Foods High in Selenium

1. Brazil nuts (these are one of the richest sources of selenium in food)

2. Mushrooms

3. Seafood, especially oysters and tuna

4. Beans

5. Sunflower seeds

6. Meat

7. Poultry

8. Liver

9. Eggs

10. Brown rice

11. Oats [1]

Reasons to Add Selenium to Your Diet

Most people get enough selenium from their diets. Some of the health benefits of eating enough selenium foods include:

  • Improving cognitive function. Low intake of selenium is associated with higher rates of cognitive decline.[1]
  • Boosting immune system activity. Adding more selenium to your daily diet may help promote optimal immune function.[1]
  • Supporting thyroid health. Low selenium may contribute to thyroid disease in women.
  • Reducing cancer risk. Low levels of selenium intake have been associated with increased risk for several types of cancers.[[1,2]
  • Improving fertility. Low selenium levels may increase the risk of infertility[2]

How Much Selenium Do You Need?

Each day, you should get the recommended daily allowance for selenium, which is 55 mcg (micrograms) per day for adults.

For an idea of how much selenium is in the above foods, brazil nuts contain 777% of the daily value of selenium, with 544 mcg selenium per serving. Tuna has 92 mcg per serving, halibut has 47 mcg per serving, chicken has 22 mcg per serving, a large egg has 15 mcg.[4]

Too much selenium can cause diarrhea, irritability ,brittle hair or nails, and other symptoms. Extremely high levels can lead to serious health problems including heart and kidney failure. Researchers have suspicions that too much selenium can raise the risk for type 2 diabetes.[5] So limit your intake of those foods with a lot of selenium in them, like brazil nuts and tuna.

Work with a doctor who can monitor your levels to make sure they are in the recommended range and don’t get too high.


This article was originally published in 2016. It is regularly updated. 


[1] Br J Nutr. 2008 Aug;100(2):254-68.

[2] Thyroid. 2006 May;16(5):455-60.

[3] Mol Aspects Med. 2012 Feb;33(1):98-106. 

[4] National Institutes of Health Fact Sheet. Selenium. 2013.

[5] Nutrients. 2015 Mar 31;7(4):2209-36.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

View all posts by UHN Staff

Comments Comments Policy
  • Hi – In this article, you write: “Each day, you should get the recommended daily allowance for selenium, which is 55 mg (milligram) per day for adults.” However, according to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily intake of selenium is 55 mcg (microgram). I wanted to flag the issue as the article could mislead readers into consuming too much selenium.

  • But I think the whole article refers to milligrams when it should say micrograms. Right? Not just in the first paragraph.

  • What is a serving of Brazil nuts that cause us to over consume your Recomended 400mcg per day max If one “serving “is 577mcg alone

  • I’d like to point out that a study has been done on ‘the effects of common cooking heat treatments on selenium content’ (google that exact term to find a paper written on the topic) that concluded that cooking foods that contain selenium results in the selenium being significantly altered, meaning that most of the foods you’ve listed above would be negated from the list on account that the average person isn’t likely to eat uncooked fish, eggs or ham.

  • People, Stop “Correcting” the MG MCG thing!! This guy took his time writing this article to help all of us. Be sure to check your own “spelling”, before you criticize someone else. Also, Just Think before you Comment..Be Nice!!

  • It is not frivolous to point out errors of magnitude. A milligram is one thousandth of a gram while a microgram is one millionth of a gram. So a milligram is one thousand micrograms. A milligram is one thousand micrograms. Needless to say the implications for overdosing is obvious and is very crucial. Thanks to both the original author as well as those who have sought clarification on the dose. We cannot overemphasize the seriousness of this issue. Thanks to you all.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.