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.

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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]

Read more about the benefits of selenium.

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.

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UHN Staff

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