Why we need them, and more

Selenium is a trace element or nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. The best sources of selenium include nuts, fish and poultry.

Keep reading to learn more about selenium and why we need it, as well as 15 foods that contain this important nutrient.

Selenium is a trace element or nutrient that people need to stay healthy. It plays a role in many bodily processes, including:

reproduction the function of the thyroid gland production of DNA protecting the body from free radicals, which are unstable cells that move around the body that can increase the risk of diseases, including cancer, protect the body from infection

The amount of selenium people need depends on their age. Other factors include whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended daily amounts are:

birth to 6 months: 15 micrograms (mcg) infants 7-12 months: 20 mcg children 1-3 years: 20 mcg children 4-8 years: 30 mcg children 9-13 years: 40 mcg teens 14-18 years: 55 mcg adults: 55 mcg person who is pregnant: 60 mcga breastfeeding person: 70 mcg

Selenium deficiency is rare in the United States. However, it can happen and can lead to:

Keshan disease, a type of heart disease, infertility in men, Kashin-Beck disease, a type of arthritis that affects the joints

Scientists are currently investigating links between selenium deficiencies and:

cancer cardiovascular disease cognitive decline, including problems with memory, problem solving, and concentration cardiovascular disease thyroid disease

It’s worth noting that too much selenium can be harmful. Over time, this can lead to:

bad breath, nausea, diarrhea, skin irritation, a metallic taste in the mouth, tooth discoloration, brittle hair and nails hair loss

The upper limit of selenium also depends on a person’s age. The NIH offers the following advice:

birth to 6 months: no more than 45 mcg per day Infants 7-12 months: no more than 60 mcg per day Children 1-3 years: no more than 90 mcg per day Children 4-8 years: no more than 150 mcg per day day children 9–13 years: no more than 280 mcg per day Teens 14 years and older and adults: no more than 400 mcg per day

Many foods contain selenium, including:

1. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are very high in selenium, with 1 ounce (oz), or 6-8 nuts, containing 544 mcg. That’s 989% of an adult’s recommended daily value (DV).

2. Tuna

About 90 grams of cooked yellowfin tuna contains 92 mcg of selenium, or 167% of the adult RDA.

3. Halibut

The same-sized serving of halibut has 47 mcg, or 85% of the adult DV.

4. Sardines

Once drained, one ounce (90 grams) can of sardines in oil, with bones, will account for 82% of the adult RDA. That’s because it contains 45 mcg of selenium.

5. Roasted ham

One cup (90 grams) of roasted ham contains 42 mcg of selenium. That equates to 76% of adult DV.

6. Shrimp

About 3 oz of canned shrimp has 40 mcg of selenium, or 73% of the adult RDA.

7. Enriched macaroni

Some brands of macaroni are enriched with selenium. Once cooked, a cup of this type of pasta contains 37 mcg, or 67% of the adult RDA.

8. Turkey

A 3 oz serving of boneless roasted turkey contains 56% of the adult RDA, which is 31 mcg.

9. Beef liver

Baked, 3 oz of beef liver can provide 28 mcg or 51% of an adult’s RDI.

10. Chicken

The light meat in chicken contains the selenium. People should aim for about 90 grams of roasted chicken to consume 22 mcg or 40% of the adult RDA.

11. Cottage cheese

A cup of 1% milk fat cottage cheese contains 20 mcg, or 36% of the adult RDA.

12. Brown rice

About a cup of cooked, brown, long-grain rice contains 35% of the adult DV, or 19 mcg.

13. Eggs

Eggs are also a good source of selenium. A large, hard-boiled egg provides 15 mcg of the nutrient. That equates to 27% of the adult DV.

14. Bread

Bread can increase the selenium content, especially if someone opts for brown varieties. On average, a slice of whole wheat bread contains 24% of the adult RDA, or 13 mcg.

Baked beans

Baked beans are a good source of selenium and protein. One cup provides an adult with 24% of their RDI, or 13 mcg.

Selenium is an essential nutrient. It plays an important role in many bodily processes, including reproduction, thyroid function and DNA production.

The amount of selenium that people should consume on a daily basis changes as they age. Babies need the least and adults need the most. The nutrient is present in many foods, so deficiency is rare in the US.

Foods that contain selenium include Brazil nuts, some types of fish, poultry, brown rice, and whole grain bread.

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