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How Much Selenium to Take in a Day?

By Blake Hagen

Selenium is an essential mineral that you need only in small amounts. It plays an anti-oxidant role, which helps to prevent cell damage and may also reduce your risk of developing some chronic diseases. You can get selenium from foods and supplements. Most Americans get enough in their diets, however, so supplementation generally isn't necessary.

Recommended Dietary Allowance

For adolescents older than 14 and all adults, the recommended dietary allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms daily. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine states that pregnant women should increase their selenium intake to 60 micrograms each day, and breastfeeding women should get at least 70 micrograms.


Selenium is required to make selenoproteins, which are anti-oxidant enzymes. These anti-oxidants prevent cell damage from free radicals. Free radicals are natural byproducts of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to heart disease and some types of cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health. Proper selenium intake may help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and some types of cancer while also boosting your immune system. Selenium may also improve fertility, especially in men.


The amount of selenium in the soil where vegetables are grown and animals feed influences the amount of selenium in the foods you eat. Generally, however, cooked beef is a good source of selenium, as 3.5 ounces. have 35 micrograms. A similar serving of roasted turkey has 32 micrograms of selenium, and 3 ounces. of tuna provides 63 micrograms. Enriched and fortified pastas and grains are also good sources of selenium. Eggs, chicken, liver and garlic are contain selenium and are good choices when you want to increase your intake.


The average American gets about 100 micrograms of selenium each day. A balanced, nutritious diet generally ensures an adequate supply, with no supplementation needed. Adults should not consume more than 400 micrograms of selenium daily, considered the upper limit, or UL, for this mineral. In high amounts, selenium can be toxic. Early signs of an overdose of selenium include a metallic taste in your mouth or a garlic odor to your breath. Later symptoms of long-term selenosis include hair loss, upset stomach, white blotchy nails, irritability and mild nerve damage.

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