Selenium is an essential mineral that is needed in small amounts to ensure the optimum health of your immune system, as well as your thyroid gland. It has also been linked to reduced cancer rates, possibly because it helps to remove free radicals. Selenium deficiency can result in serious disease, like Keshan Disease, and others that take advantage of a weak immune system. People with gastrointestinal disorders or damage, or who live in areas where there isn’t enough selenium naturally occurring in the soil, may need to increase the amount of selenium in their diets.
Selenium is dangerous in high doses, and can cause selenosis, or selenium toxicity. Adults are advised to have no more than 400 micrograms of selenium per day, so if you are already taking selenium supplements, or a multi-vitamin that includes selenium, it might be worth checking out how close to the daily limit you are before eating too many foods that will provide more. Here are some ways to increase the amount of selenium in your diet.
1. Prepare Meals with Organic Ingredients
Modern farming techniques, which strip minerals from soil, may be reducing the selenium content of modern foodstuffs. Eating organic foods, where minerals are replaced within a natural cycle of fertilization, is a good way to ensure that you will get more selenium in your diet.
2. Snack on Nuts
Selenium is found in a variety of nuts, particularly in Brazil nuts. However, Brazil nuts can contain up to 500 micrograms of selenium per ounce, more than the recommended daily intake. They also do not contain predictable amounts of selenium, as it depends on where the Brazil nut is grown. Snacking on a mixture of nuts that contains Brazil nuts can help you to reduce your chances of taking too much or too little selenium.
3. Seafood and Other Meat Sources
Seafood is an excellent source of selenium, particularly crab, lobster and tuna. Throwing together an old fashioned chowder, complete with local shellfish or catch of the day will provide you with plenty of selenium. Eating seafood at restaurants will also help you to increase your intake. Even if you’re going the fast food route, a fish sandwich or burger is your best source of selenium at most outlets. Pork and turkey are also good sources of selenium, so a low-fat turkey sandwich is good for you in more ways than one.
4. Vegetarian Options
Selenium is found in many cereals, especially in whole wheat, so using multi-grain bread in sandwiches or whole wheat pasta in meals are good ways to get some selenium into your diet. Oat bran also contains selenium, so people looking to reduce their gluten intake can substitute oat bran for wheat. Sunflower seeds are also a good source, so sprinkle them over a salad or add a handful to smoothies. Other sources include eggs and shiitake mushrooms.
Selenium is found naturally in most foods, and eating a wide variety of natural produce should ensure that most people have enough in their diets.