What it does:

  • Works as an antioxidant with vitamin E, to protect cells from damage that may lead to heart disease, and perhaps cancer and other health problems.
  • Aids cell growth.
  • Boosts immune function.

If you don't get enough: The general signs of a deficiency in humans aren't clear, but it may affect the heart muscle.

If you consume excess amounts: A normal diet with a variety of foods generally provides moderate levels of selenium. Very high levels from dietary supplements can be quite harmful. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is set at 400 micrograms daily for people ages fourteen and over.

How much you need: The RDA is 55 micrograms daily for people ages fourteen and over. During pregnancy the recommendation remains the same, 55 micro-grams daily; during breast-feeding it goes up to 70 micrograms daily.

Where it's mostly found: The richest sources are seafood, liver, and kidney, as well as other meats. Grain products and seeds contain selenium, but the amount depends on the selenium content of the soil in which they're grown. Fruits and vegetables generally don't have much.

Food Selenium (mcg)

Chicken, light meat,

skinless (3 oz.)


Egg, large (1)


Brown rice, cooked (V2 cup)


Whole-wheat bread (1 slice)


Peanuts (V4 cup)


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