Selenium is an essential trace element. It is needed for healthy thyroid function, immune system support, and the production of antioxidants in the body. Consequently, a selenium deficiency can primarily lead to impaired thyroid and immune function. Other symptoms may include fatigue, hair loss, muscle weakness, as well as muscle and joint pain.
Our table shows selenium-rich foods in descending order of selenium content.
Who Has A Higher Selenium Requirement?
The selenium requirement depends on age, gender, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and health condition. Adults need about 55 μg of selenium per day. However, recommendations may vary depending on the country and organization.
A higher selenium requirement may exist for individuals with certain conditions such as thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and inflammations. Breastfeeding women also have a higher requirement than other adults.
The requirement can be met through a balanced diet that includes selenium-rich foods. Vegans often consume less selenium than needed through their diet, as many selenium-rich foods are of animal origin. They should opt for foods with high selenium content when shopping.
In the following list, we provide some selenium-rich foods that should not be missing in a balanced diet:
- Brazil nuts are probably the best food source of selenium. One large Brazil nut can contain more than the recommended daily dose of selenium. So, don't eat too many Brazil nuts to avoid selenium overdose. You can find the nutritional values of Brazil nuts here.
- Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of selenium and should be included in your vegan diet. In addition to Brazil nuts mentioned earlier, the table also includes cashews, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds as selenium-rich nuts and seeds.
- Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats also contain significant amounts of selenium. They are also a very important source of dietary fiber. Pseudocereals like quinoa and amaranth have lower selenium content. You can access the table with selenium-rich grains and cereals here.
- Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are rich in selenium and also a good protein source for vegans. The table with selenium-rich legumes is available here.
- Vegetables contain very little selenium. The best selenium-rich foods in this group are asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and spinach. This table shows which vegetables contain selenium.
- Some mushroom varieties such as champignons, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms contain relatively high levels of selenium. For example, a serving (approximately 100g) of champignons can provide about 10 to 20% of the recommended daily selenium intake for an adult. However, the amount of selenium strongly depends on the cultivation area and the soil in which they were grown. You can find the selenium mushroom table here.
- Fruits do not contain significant amounts of selenium. However, bananas, pineapples, and oranges may contain small amounts of selenium. Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, figs, and dates, as well as dried coconut flesh, are better sources of selenium. This table shows which fruits contain high levels of selenium.
You should consume 1 to 2 Brazil nuts every day. Additionally, you can incorporate selenium-rich foods into your balanced diet using these recipe examples:
- A quinoa salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers is a healthy and satisfying dish that is easy to prepare.
- Veggie burgers made from beans, lentils, or vegetables are not only a great source of plant-based protein. You can make a homemade veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, and avocado to incorporate more selenium into your vegan diet.
- Chili con carne can be easily transformed into a vegan version by replacing the meat with vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and corn. Kidney beans are also a good source of selenium and provide plenty of protein.
- For breakfast, you can fill a bowl with oats, almond milk, nuts and seeds, and berries, making it part of your selenium-rich diet.
- You can quickly prepare whole wheat pasta with mushrooms and garlic. The mushrooms are simply sautéed in a pan and served with garlic, olive oil, and pasta.
- A broccoli salad with onions, almonds, and cranberries also provides important nutrients.
- You can prepare a delicious tofu spinach curry with coconut milk, ginger, and spices.