What should I learn after selenium

Selenium - a good protection for our body

What's behind the selenium advertisement?

It has long been claimed that taking selenium-containing food supplements protect against cardiovascular disease. However, recent studies have shown that this is not the case. It is discussed whether selenium prevents certain tumor diseases such as colon, prostate or lung cancer. However, the connection is not scientifically proven. It is undisputed that selenium contributes to the maintenance of various body processes.

According to the European health claim regulations, the following health-related statements are permitted for selenium:

  • Selenium contributes to normal sperm formation
  • Selenium helps maintain normal hair
  • Selenium helps maintain normal nails
  • Selenium contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Selenium contributes to normal thyroid function
  • Selenium helps protect cells from oxidative stress


What should I look out for when using selenium?

  • The estimated value for adequate intake (from all sources) is 60 micrograms per day for women and 70 µg for men.
  • The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends not to exceed a daily amount of 45 micrograms in food supplements.
  • Acute symptoms of an overdose (possible from approx. 300 micrograms per day) are joint pain and gastrointestinal problems, nervous disorders, impaired vision and memory, dental problems, skin damage up to hair loss and impaired nail formation. A breath that smells of garlic is characteristic of an acute overdose. Persistently high levels of selenium can have serious side effects. One then speaks of a so-called "selenosis".
  • For certain population groups (vegans, with an extremely one-sided diet, dialysis patients, with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) and diseases that impair the absorption of nutrients in the intestine), an appropriate dietary supplement can make sense - it is best to talk to your doctor.

What does the body need selenium for?

Selenium is a trace element and plays a role in many processes in the organism, as it is a component of the amino acid selenocysteine ​​and a component of various enzymes. Among other things, it has a function in antioxidant systems by protecting the body's cells from attacks by so-called "free radicals" as part of enzymes. Selenium is also required for the production of thyroid hormones and, in men, for the formation of sperm.

A Selenium deficiency leads to disorders of the immune system, sperm production and restrictions in muscle function. According to a recent study, deficiency could also be linked to liver cancer in the long run. However, a selenium deficiency in Germany is rarely found in healthy people with a varied diet.

In other countries, on the other hand, where a one-sided and regional diet is common with a very low selenium content in the soil, there may be a deficiency. This is particularly true of African and Central Asian countries. So it came to the so-called "Kasin-Beck disease" in some areas of China, which manifested itself among other things in joint changes and disturbed bone growth.

Other causes of a selenium deficiency can be a genetic defect that affects the selenium metabolism, as well as diseases that lead to insufficient selenium absorption in the body. The latter include, for example, cystic fibrosis, kidney failure and inflammatory bowel disease.

Can I cover my daily requirement with food?

Selenium gets into plants through the soil and through them in turn into animals and humans. The selenium content in plant-based foods is therefore always dependent on the selenium content of the soil in the growing area. The soils of European cultivation areas tend to be lower in selenium than z. B. the soils in the USA, but richer in selenium than in many Chinese and African regions.

Since animal feed may be fortified with selenium in the EU, higher amounts of selenium can be found in animal foods in this country. For example in meat, sausage, eggs, seafood and farmed fish - the best natural selenium suppliers in Germany. However, certain plants that are particularly good at storing selenium are valuable sources of selenium. Brazil nuts (do not eat too much because of their natural radioactivity), asparagus, mushrooms, legumes, as well as cabbage (white cabbage, broccoli) and onions are particularly important here . Vegetarians and especially vegans should include these foods more in their diet.

For certain population groups (vegans, with an extremely one-sided diet, dialysis patients, with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) and diseases that impair the absorption of nutrients in the intestine), appropriate food supplements can be useful - preferably after consulting a doctor. If necessary, the selenium level is determined from a blood sample in the laboratory in order to check an additional requirement.

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) does not specify any recommended intake, but only gives estimates for a daily adequate intake that is not harmful to health. They are based on new scientific findings from certain markers in the blood, which allow conclusions to be drawn about the selenium concentration. An adequate intake for women is 60 micrograms per day and 70 micrograms for men. Children should take in less depending on their age group.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also recommends 70 micrograms.

The amount absorbed by the body can vary up to 100% depending on the selenium compound. The average intake from food is given as 70%. These mineral compounds are approved for use in food supplements in Germany and other EU countries in accordance with EU Directive 2002/46 / EC, Annex II (version dated July 5, 2017):

  • L-selenomethionine
  • Selenium-fortified yeast
  • Selenous acid
  • Sodium selenate
  • Sodium hydrogen selenite
  • Sodium selenite




DGE / ÖGE / SGE. TOP, ROOF. (2nd edition, 6th updated edition 2020): Reference values ​​for nutrient intake, accessed on: October 15, 2020

German Nutrition Society (2015): Selected questions and answers about selenium, accessed on: October 15, 2020

German Nutrition Society (2016): DGE position paper: Vegan nutrition only with dietary supplements, accessed on: October 15, 2020

German Nutrition Society (11/2011): Selenium and cardiovascular diseases, accessed on October 15, 2020

Brain damage from too much selenium, Ärzte Zeitung online, July 12, 2018, accessed on October 15, 2020

K. Rees et al .: Selenium supplementation for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (01/2013). 10.1002 / 14651858.CD009671.pub2 accessed on October 15, 2020

M. Vinceti et al .: Selenium for the prevention of cancer, Cochrane Systematic Review - Intervention Version, published January 29, 2018, accessed on October 15, 2020

Natural radioactivity in food (08/2019), Federal Office for Radiation Protection, accessed on October 15, 2020

DIRECTIVE 2002/46 / EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 10 June 2002 on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to food supplements (version 05/07/2017), accessed on 15 October 2020

Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values ​​for selenium (10/2014), EFSA, accessed on October 14, 2020

REGULATION (EC) No. 1924/2006 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of December 20, 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods, accessed on October 15, 2020

BfR (2021): Updated maximum quantity proposals for vitamins and minerals in food supplements and fortified foods
Opinion No. 009/2021 of March 15, 2021

BfR (2021): Maximum amount proposals for selenium in foods including food supplements


More on the subject:

Mineral Products: What You Should Know

Vitamin products: a lot helps a lot - is that right?


Questions about selenium:

Is it true that the soil is depleted and that we are not adequately supplied with e.g. selenium, iodine and zinc?

Selenium against fatigue

Selenium bioavailability

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