How important is this forgotten trace mineral

Selenium is a trace mineral which is essential for human health and assists with multiple biological activities. Selenium prevents aging, boosts immunity, improves brain function, and is essential in normal thyroid function, heart, fertility and the prevention of diabetes.

selenium-mapAustralian soils are eroded and depleted from selenium, and the level of selenium (serum blood of selenium) is not routinely tested by doctors in Australia. I believe it should be tested.  I have seen many patients in my Clinic with symptoms of low selenium levels, confirmed by the test. My research of extensive international literature on the health benefits of selenium concludes that nobody can afford to be selenium deficient.


The Australian selenium reference range of 0.75 -1.35 µmol/L² ( micromole per liter) is lower than in other countries, despite selenium deficiency in the soil. It is impossible to get selenium toxicity from food or by taking selenium as per heath practitioner’s instructions. It is the deficiency of selenium we should be worrying about, not an excess.  As you can see from the conversions below  the selenium is a trace mineral  required by the body only at a homeopathic concentration².

 How significant is selenium?

healthy family running

Infertility is linked to selenium deficiency

Selenium has antiviral and anticancer properties and is essential in many more complex biochemical processes. Research shows that for protection against thyroid cancer more than 1.6 µmol/L ² of selenium is required, while protection against prostate cancer more that 1.86µml/L. In some other cancers, more than 1.5µmol/L² is required.

Sufficient level of selenium is mandatory in patients with any heart condtition

International research points towards the wide benefits of selenium like antioxidant protection against formaldehyde toxicity¹, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. Low postoperative selenium levels in patients undergoing off-pump cardiac surgery are predictors for the development of complications. An animal study in 2014 (Hang Wang et al) of skeletal muscle atrophy was attenuated in tumor-bearing mice under chemotherapy by treatment with fish oil and selenium.

One scientific paper has concluded*

Selenium deficiency can result in poor muscle development and pale, weak muscles (White Muscle Disease) in foals on deficient diets, lower fertility in mares, poor performance, and may predispose to “tying up” in racing horses. I guess we might extrapolate the same conclusion to humans as well.

The two forms of selenium are organic and inorganic. Only organic selenium in the form of selenomethionine or selenized yeast is therapeutic, and only selenomethionine is used in Australia.

Which food contains selenium?

Brazil nuts hold exceptionally high levels of selenium. Six to eight nuts can provide 544 mcg of selenium, but the level of selenium can vary depending on the selenium content in the soil. Some people may have allergies to nuts, other sources of selenium however at much lower levels are: alfalfa, barley, broccoli, garlic, fish, butter, brown rice, whole grain cereals or onions. Some 40-50% of selenium is lost however in the process of milling of grain.

Who should take Selenium?

Including people with medical conditions mentioned above, people who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and coffee, people with HIV, older, and obese people are also chronically deficient in selenium. So that probably covers at least 80% of Australian population in need of selenium.

I do not recommend running to a health food store or a pharmacy to get selenium, as you would only get a very low dose which would be ineffective. Selenium can interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking, so please consult your naturopath who will advise if you need it. After all, it could just be that missing link to your healthier self.

*( )

¹Formaldehyde is used in:

  • manufacturing many materials, such as plastics, foam insulation, fungicides, mirrors, insecticides, petroleum, resins and industrial chemicals
  • building materials, such as sheet vinyl flooring, doors, decking
  • timber materials, such as MDF, plywood and laminated timber, wall lining and coverings such as wallpaper
  • textiles and clothing, such as fabrics, blankets, and clothing finishes designed to gain permanent press and stain resistance
  • cosmetics and personal care products, such as cleansers, fingernail varnishes and hardeners, shampoos and conditioners, toothpastes and hair straightening solutions
  • household cleaning products, such as carpet and rug cleaners, disinfectants, dish washing liquids, and floor cleaner and polish.

² Micromole is one millionth (10-6) of a mole. Mole, also spelled mol,  in chemistry, a standard scientific unit for measuring large quantities of very small entities such as atoms, molecules, or other specified particles.

The mole designates an extremely large number of units, 6.02214179 × 1023, which is the number of atoms determined experimentally to be found in 12 grams of carbon-12


About the Author

258Danuta Hulajko is  a holistic practitioner, international speaker,  founder of the DH Natural Medicine Clinic and , Sydney. She specialises in anti-aging, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and heavy metals chelation. For more information please go to our website. You can follow Danuta Hulajko work, events, seminars, expos, latest health research, her health tips and advice on Facebook  and LinkedIn

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