Posted by Nicole on March 26, 2014

Named for selene, which means “Moon,” Selenium was first discovered in 1817. It is mainly found in ores, and is a byproduct of their processing. Primarily used in everything from pigments to computer parts, selenium's characteristics give it a silvery or deep red appearance, typically in a powder form. It's also toxic in large amounts, so you may be wondering why you'd want to supplement it in your diet. 

The answer is that selenium has a primary role in your thyroid, and thus everything that your thyroid effects. Selenium helps to regulate the activation of different hormones that your thyroid produces. 

Where Do We Get It? 

Selenium can come from:

  • Mushrooms, farmed or foraged.
  • Fish, with tuna being the highest source of selenium by a large margin.
  • Eggs, which include other great nutrients like Omega-3s, proteins, and more.
  • Kidneys, a nutrient-rich organ meat. Beef and poultry kidneys all provide rich sources of selenium.
  • Shellfish, with crab and lobster being at the head of the list.
  • Nuts, and especially Brazil nuts.

All of which you may recognize as being part of a typical diet, with the possible exception of kidneys. The micronutrients that we gather from these food sources has just enough of the selenium that we need to manage our thyroid's functions, without going into the realm of selenium toxicity. The highest source of selenium can be found in the Brazil nut, which can has roughly 50 micrograms of selenium per nut. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

 Getting 100-200 micrograms of selenium in your diet every day can have some very positive benefits, including:

  • Protection against antioxidants. Selenium helps to regulate enzymes which are known as glutathione peroxidase, which work to convert hydrogen peroxide in the body into water. Selenium also helps your body to better utilize vitamin C in the bloodstream, which in turn also gives you more antioxidant power.
  • Support for your thyroid. As mentioned earlier, selenium works to help regulate your thyroid's hormones. It also helps to convert less active thyroid hormones into more active forms.

Selenium isn't a magic bullet for thyroid support, but when taken with other supplements, it may help you to better regulate your hormonal levels and get your metabolism, mood, and energy levels back on the right track. If you suspect that you're having health issues that are related to a low amount of selenium in your diet, you should speak with your doctor about possible solutions and treatments. Selenium is plentiful in a wide variety of food sources, so you should have little issue with improving your intake.