May 15, 2008

-Good sources of selenium

Several foods are naturally rich in selenium. The best sources of selenium include:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Meats (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney)
  • Seafood
  • Some nuts (e.g., Brazil nuts, walnuts)
  • Wheat germ

In addition, selenium is present in grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables grown in selenium-rich soils. Animals that eat plants or grains that were grown in soil rich in selenium have higher levels of selenium in their muscle.

Examples of certain foods and the amount of selenium (in micrograms) they contain include:

Food

Micrograms (mcg)

Percent Daily Value*

Brazil nuts, dried, unblanched, 1 ounce

544

780

Tuna, light, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces

63

95

Beef, cooked, 3½ ounces

35

50

Spaghetti w/ meat sauce, frozen entrée, 1 serving

34

50

Cod, cooked, 3 ounces

32

45

Turkey, light meat, roasted, 3½ ounces

32

45

Beef chuck roast, lean only, roasted, 3 ounces

23

35

Chicken Breast, meat only, roasted, 3½ ounces

20

30

Noodles, enriched, boiled, 1/2 cup

17

25

Macaroni, elbow, enriched, boiled, 1/2 cup

15

20

Egg, whole, 1 medium

14

20

Cottage cheese, low fat 2%, 1/2 cup

12

15

Oatmeal, instant, fortified, cooked, 1 cup

12

15

Rice, white, enriched, long grain, cooked, 1/2 cup

12

15

Rice, brown, long-grained, cooked, 1/2 cup

10

15

Bread, enriched, whole wheat, commercially prepared, 1 slice

10

15

Walnuts, black, dried, 1 ounce

5

8

Bread, enriched, white, commercially prepared, 1 slice

4

6

Cheddar cheese, 1 ounce

4

6

*Source: Office of Dietary Supplements (National Institutes of Health)

Daily Value (DV) helps consumers know the amount of a specific nutrient contained within one serving of a food. Food with less then 5 percent or less of the daily value is a low source of a nutrient. Food that provides 10 percent to 19 percent of the DV is a good source.

For instance, Brazil nuts contain 544 mcg, an unusually high level of selenium that provides 780 percent of the daily value of the nutrient. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends eating Brazil nuts occasionally because of their high selenium content.

The ODS encourages people to get selenium from dietary sources instead of taking selenium supplements. For example, selenium obtained through the diet appears to be much more effective in protecting against certain types of cancer than selenium obtained through supplements.

However, in some cases, patients may require selenium supplements. For example, patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for extended periods of time sometimes require supplements. TPN is a method of feeding nutrients to a person through an intravenous (I.V.) line when their digestive systems do not function. Patients with gastrointestinal problems (e.g., Crohn’s disease) that prevent proper absorption of nutrients also may require supplements.

Most forms of selenium supplements are available without prescription, although an injectable form of selenium is available by prescription only.

People should never take selenium or any other drug or supplement without first consulting a physician. In particular, people with certain allergies or medical conditions (e.g., liver or stomach problems) should not take these supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also have increased risk factors (e.g., potential damage to a fetus or newborn) that may prohibit them from taking selenium supplements.


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