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Lack of Selenium - Symptoms, Cause, Sources and Tips

Selenium is a mineral found in the periodic table and a key antioxidant substance to keep our health, physical and mental energy up to date. While being found in many foods, the amount of the mineral has been declining in recent years.

Selenium contributes to a balanced diet that promotes general health in humans. This mineral is incorporated into the selenoproteins that have several roles on the organism: essential in the immune system, are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory to the production of thyroid. In addition, the antioxidant properties of selenoproteins can help prevent cell damage from free radicals, which can develop chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Let us know what are the main symptoms of lack of selenium, the causes and how to restore your deficiency just below:

Symptoms of lack of selenium

There are some symptoms that can appear when the individual is deficient in selenium. These alerts can help you discover the problem in advance before it escalates.

In addition, the lack of this mineral can contribute to the development of other diseases. There is evidence that lack of selenium does not cause disease, but it makes the body more susceptible to diseases caused by other nutritional, biochemical or infectious processes.

1. Hair loss and discoloration of the skin and fingernail

Hair loss is one of the signs of selenium deficiency. In more severe cases, the arm and whole body hairs can also be compromised.

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2. Waiver of immunity

Mineral produces antioxidant substances. Without these substances, the body drastically lowers immunity making it more difficult to combat colds, flu and other viral diseases.

3. Tiredness and fatigue

Fatigue can be a cause of various diseases and lack of vitamins and iron, and lack of selenium may also be the reason.

To learn more in detail if extreme fatigue is due to selenium, it is necessary to do exams with your doctor to find out the reason for the low energy you have been facing.

4. Lack of attention and difficulty concentrating

Poor recall of information and concentration have also been associated with selenium deficiency.

Ingestion of selenium has also been reported in the aid of anxiety, irritability, mental fatigue and some cases of depression.

5. Reproductive problems

The lack of selenium in the body may be one of the causes of recurrent miscarriages, according to studies. In addition, women who suffer from lack of mineral may feel change in menstruation.

In men, selenium deficiency can impair the movement of sperm, thus reducing male fertility.

6. Hypothyroidism

In more advanced and severe cases, the lack of selenium can lead to hypothyroidism, which is a major health disorder in which the thyroid gland does not produce hormones sufficient, leading the person to have other problems such as tiredness, depression, heart palpitations, emotional disturbances, sensitivity to light, weight gain, among others.

7. Keshan disease

The disease is caused in more advanced cases of lack of selenium, and can be fatal, affecting mainly children and women of childbearing age. This disease presents several symptoms such as heart failure and pulmonary edema. In addition, the disease can be a gateway to other diseases.

8. Kashion-Beck disease

Also called osteoarthritis deforming, it is similar to Keshan's disease, but its difference is that it is caused by deficiency of selenium and iodine. It has numerous symptoms such as degeneration, necrosis, atrophy of cartilage tissue, among others.

It is worth remembering that lack of selenium can worsen the effects of iodine deficiency. It is also a more common disease in children and women of childbearing age.

Causes of selenium deficiency

The most common causes for lack of selenium are compromised bowel functions, recent performance of gastrointestinal surgeries, intestinal disorders and old age.

In addition, a main cause considered is the dependence of food grown on soil without sufficient selenium. This is because plant foods are the main sources of selenium in most countries around the world. In soils like China and Russia, which have low amounts of selenium, there are frequent reports of people with mineral deficiency, since most of the food in these areas is cultivated and consumed locally.

The areas with the highest rates of selenium-deficient people are China, North Korea and eastern Siberia.

How to Reset Selenium

- Required amount of selenium per day

There are several debates about the required daily amount of selenium. In the United States, the recommendation is 55 micrograms for adults. In the United Kingdom, 75 micrograms for men and 60 micrograms for women is recommended daily. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has a complicated formula for figuring out the exactness of the quantity needed.

Even with varying numbers, keep in mind that high mineral intake can be harmful and toxic. Some say that the toxic amount would be 40 times the recommended intake in the United States, that is, far beyond what we think of ingestion of the mineral.

Either way, recommendations for quantities of selenium and other nutrients are provided by the "Food and Nutrition Board". The amount of each vitamin you need depends on your age and sex. Other factors such as pregnancy and illness are also essential. Here are the recommended values ​​below, but never forget to consult your doctor:


  • 0 to 6 months: 15 micrograms per day;
  • 7 to 12 months: 20 micrograms per day;
  • 1 to 3 years: 20 micrograms per day;
  • 4 to 8 years: 30 micrograms per day;
  • 9 to 13 years: 40 micrograms per day.

Teenagers and adults:

  • Men between 14 years and over: 55 micrograms per day;
  • Women between 14 years and over: 55 micrograms per day;
  • Pregnant: 60 micrograms per day;
  • Infants: 70 micrograms per day.

The best way to replenish this mineral is to follow a balanced diet.

- Which foods are rich in the mineral?

Some foods rich in selenium are:

  • Seafood such as shrimp, salmon, sole, cod and tuna;
  • Mushrooms like shitake and crimini;
  • Protein: Peru, chicken, meat and eggs, cottage cheese;
  • Grains: Oats, brown rice, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds;
  • Vegetables: broccoli, asparagus and spinach.

The source richest in selenium is the Pará nut, which has about 5 grams of selenium in each portion, and some still contain 9 grams. The best recommendation is to eat these nuts in the snack, eat between 2 to 3 of them in any snack of the day, as well as being healthy, you will feel a significant improvement in your energy.

- Consult a physician.

If you experience any of the above symptoms of selenium deficiency or want to prevent mineral deficiency, consult your doctor. Area professionals can ask for more detailed tests and prescribe supplements for people who are not getting an adequate supply of some kind of vitamin or mineral.


Have you ever felt any of these symptoms of lack of selenium in the body? Do you think you need to increase your mineral source intake? Comment below!

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