Selenium deficiency is not spoken about or given the same weightage as vitamins B and D. Nonetheless, it is equally essential for various bodily functions such as DNA synthesis, reproduction, immune, endocrine, metabolic and cardiovascular system processes.

The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends that children aged 14 and older as well as adults get 55 micrograms a day. The ODS recommends 60 mcg for pregnant women, while 70 mcg is required for breastfeeding women.

Some countries like Europe and China have lower selenium in their soil than the United States, which leads to cattle developing the deficiency. This is concerning because it causes white muscle disease, a condition in which muscles wear out from oxidative stress.

Some people are more vulnerable than others. Pregnant women with selenium deficiencies could undergo miscarriages, damage organs of the fetus, or have children with low birth weight. It could also affect fertility levels in both sexes too.

As the body cannot produce the trace mineral on its own, a whole foods diet is the best source of selenium in comparison to supplements because the mineral can be toxic at low levels, according to Wellness Mama.

Selenium deficiency alone does not cause health problems. You need multiple deficiencies for you to develop the following symptoms. Read ahead to know more.

People with Comorbidities More Prone

Selenium deficiency is more common in people with kidney dialysis and those who are HIV positive. It also affects people who eat an unhealthy diet of refined processed foods that contain less selenium. Also, selenium deficiency initiates biochemical processes that make people more prone to bodily changes that cause disease.

Diminished Muscle Strength

People with low selenium have skeletal muscle disorders and weak cardiac muscles, which is referred to as Keshan disease.


Several deficiencies cause fatigue, including selenium deficiency. This is also a symptom because the deficiency causes loss of thyroid function, which is accompanied by tiredness.

Brain Fog

If selenium is low it may result in a foggy state of mind, but it usually occurs coupled with other symptoms. Research has shown that the elderly with low selenium fare poorly in cognitive tests.

Impaired Immune Function

Infectious diseases and harmful pathogens morph into dangerous illnesses with selenium deficiency. Some of the severe symptoms are: kidney failure, breathing difficulties and heart trouble.

Signs of Selenium Toxicity

Selenium is better absorbed from food sources than it is from supplements, however, keep in mind that too much can turn toxic. As long as you eat a balanced diet, you can avoid toxicity of the mineral. The signs to watch out for are: brittle hair, brittle nails, skin rashes, diarrhea, nausea, discolored teeth, bad breath and irritability.

Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts affords energy, highly nutritious and is a great source of selenium. Gadini/Pixabay