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Selenium and Eggs

By Melodie Anne

Eggs are full of essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium. Plant foods like grains are naturally rich in selenium because they soak it up from the soil. Since chickens feed on grains, they consume selenium, which you get indirectly by eating the egg. This important trace mineral has several functions in your body, but it is only needed in small amounts.

Functions of Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant, meaning it eliminates free radicals that scavenge through your body and damage cells. It is especially powerful when it is paired with vitamin E, explains the University of Maryland. Your immune system relies on trace amounts of selenium to help it fight off invading foreign substances and keep inflammation under control. Additionally, selenium helps your thyroid function properly, allowing it to produce hormones effectively.

Selenium in Eggs

You need 55 micrograms of selenium each day, which increases to 60 micrograms during pregnancy and 70 micrograms if you are breast-feeding. The majority of the selenium in eggs is located in the yolk. An egg white from a large egg provides 6.7 micrograms, whereas the entire egg provides 15.9 micrograms, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.


Selenium has numerous benefits on your health. The antioxidant properties can decrease your risk of certain cancers like colorectal, lung and prostate cancer, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Oxidative stress from free radicals can increase your risk of heart disease. Consuming selenium from eggs may be beneficial for your heart. Additionally, selenium reduces and manages inflammation, which can help if you have a chronic inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency can occur if you have gastrointestinal problems, such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome or have had a gastric bypass surgery, explains the Office of Dietary Supplements. In the United States, selenium deficiency is rare, but there are specific disease associated with it. Severe selenium deficiency can lead to Keshan disease, causing an enlarged heart and poor cardiovascular functioning in children. Other conditions caused by selenium deficiency include Kashin-Beck disease, which causes osteoarthropathy, or bone and joint disease, and myxedematous endemic cretinism, which leads to mental retardation. Getting adequate selenium in your diet by consuming eggs for breakfast a few times per week, reduces your risk of having a deficiency.


It is possible to have too much selenium, but it is very rare. The highest amount of selenium you should consume in one day is 400 micrograms; an egg only has about 4 percent of that amount. Selenium toxicity is referred to as selenosis, which causes gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, bad breath and fatigue.

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