Selenium is crucial for healthy thyroid hormone production and also plays an important role in DNA synthesis, reproduction, immunity, reducing inflammation and cardiovascular health.
Selenium deficiency can result in cognitive decline, depressed mood, anxiety, muscle weakness, reproductive issues, inflammation, cardiomyopathy in children and young women, impaired growth, impaired immunity and impaired thyroid function.
Excess selenium can cause selenium toxicity, or selenosis, which can result in hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nerve damage, cardiovascular disease and/or kidney failure, but this is very rare, and typically only occurs in parts of the world with soil that is abnormally rich in selenium, or through incorrect use of supplements.
You can pretty much get the recommended daily amount of Selenium in a single brazil nut per day, so most people following a whole food plant-based diet do not need to supplement this nutrient. However, if you are allergic to treenuts and cannot access other selenium-rich foods, daily supplements and selenium-fortified foods are available.
Plant-based sources of Selenium:
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Chickpea flour
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wheat bran
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat flour
- Rolled Oats
- Sunflower seeds