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Written By THT Editorial Team

Reviewed by Liza Nagarkoti , BSc Nursing, MA(Nutrition), Project Officer (Health) LWF Nepal

Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential for various bodily functions, including antioxidant activity, immune function, and thyroid hormone metabolism. In this article, we will discuss the sources, benefits, and antioxidant properties of selenium, as well as its link to thyroid function and recent research findings.

Sources of Selenium

Selenium is found in various food sources, including seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Brazil nuts are also a rich source of selenium. Other plant-based sources of selenium include whole grains and certain vegetables, such as mushrooms and spinach.

Benefits and Antioxidant Properties

Selenium is an important antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It also plays a crucial role in the immune system, helping to regulate inflammation and enhance immune cell activity. Additionally, selenium is involved in the conversion of thyroid hormones, which are important for regulating metabolism and energy production.

Recent Research and Findings

Recent research has shown that selenium may have other health benefits beyond its antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. For example, some studies have suggested that selenium supplementation may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as prostate and lung cancer.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that selenium supplementation reduced the incidence of prostate cancer in men with low selenium levels. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that selenium supplementation reduced the risk of lung cancer in individuals with a history of smoking.

Deficiency and Link to Thyroid Function

Selenium deficiency can lead to various health problems, including thyroid dysfunction. Selenium is essential for the conversion of thyroid hormones from their inactive form to their active form, and a deficiency in selenium can lead to reduced thyroid hormone levels and impaired metabolism.

Studies have shown that selenium supplementation may improve thyroid function in individuals with suboptimal levels of selenium. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Thyroid Research found that selenium supplementation improved thyroid function and reduced the risk of thyroid disease in individuals with low selenium levels.


Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including antioxidant activity, immune function, and thyroid hormone metabolism. Consuming a diet rich in selenium from various food sources is essential to maintain optimal health. Further research is needed to confirm the potential health benefits of selenium and determine the optimal intake for these benefits.


  • National Institutes of Health. Selenium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed May 9, 2023.
  • Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW, et al. Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group. JAMA. 1996;276(24):1957-1963.
  • Lippman SM, Klein EA, Goodman PJ, et al. Effect of selenium and vitamin E on risk of prostate cancer and other cancers: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA. 2009;301(1):39-51.
  • Vinceti M, Filippini T, Del Giovane C, et al. Selenium for preventing cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;1(1):CD005195.
  • Rayman MP. Selenium and human health. Lancet. 2012;379(9822):1256-1268.
  • Gartner R, Gasnier BC, Dietrich JW, et al. Selenium supplementation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis decreases thyroid peroxidase antibodies concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(4):1687-1691.