Chapter: Vitamins, Minerals, and Related Nutrients

AKA: L-selenomethione, selenium ascorbate, selenocystine, selenomethionine, sodium selenate, sodium selenite.

A trace element that, until recently, was unjustifiably considered a deadly poison. It is one of the most powerful of the antioxidant minerals.

Food Sources: Brazil nuts, broccoli, brown rice, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, dairy products, eggs, garlic, herring, organ meats (such as liver and kidneys), mushrooms, onions, poultry, radishes, sardines, shellfish, tomatoes, and tuna can have high levels. Barley, bran, whole-grain breads and cereals, brewer's yeast, and wheat germ may have high levels if grown in soil that is high in selenium, but levels can vary widely.

Effects: Selenium detoxifies heavy metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury), alcohol, peroxidized fats, and some drugs; reportedly slows down some of the aging processes, and inhibits the oxidation that leads to hardening of the tissues, keeping them more elastic. One study found that 200 micrograms/ day can protect against lung, colon, and prostate cancer, but appears to have no effect on skin cancer, though it may help eradicate moles and brown spots. Other studies have correlated high levels of selenium with a low incidence of leukemia and cancers of the rectum, pancreas, breast, ovary, bladder, skin, stomach, esophagus, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown that, when given in doses around 220 micrograms/day, it improves moods and thinking, even in those who are not deficient, indicating most people do not get enough.

Selenium has a synergistic effect when taken with vitamin E, as both are strong antioxidants. It strengthens the immune system - some say that when selenium and vitamin E are taken together, the body's antibody defenses experience a thirty-fold increase. When combined with zinc, it can improve mental performance.

The only known deficiency symptom is a heart condition known as Keshan's disease.

Precautions: The FDA's recommended intake is 50 to 200 micrograms/day; an early symptom of overdose is a garlicky scent in the breath, urine, and sweat. Men, especially sexually active men, have a greater need for it than women, as this mineral is lost through semen. Selenium in its natural state is poisonous, though some say organic selenium is three times less toxic than inorganic selenium, and can cause symptoms when approximately 2400 to 3000 micrograms/day is taken over a long period of time. Some studies have found no harmful effects in people whose daily intake averages 1500 micrograms/day. Pearson and Shaw, however, claim that an inorganic form, sodium selenite, is relatively nontoxic, while selenomethionine and selenocystine - two organic forms - are potentially harmful, as the body may mistake these amino acids for sulfur-containing amino acids and make them perform functions they are incapable of carrying out. Overdose symptoms include a metallic taste in the mouth, garlic breath, skin inflammation, loss of hair, brittle or blackened nails, bad teeth, discoloration of skin, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and lethargy, gastrointestinal problems, irritability, jaundice, and progressive paralysis; acute poisoning is evidenced by fever, rapid breathing, upset stomach, inflammation of the spinal cord and bone marrow, anorexia, and death. Permanent side effects are rare, and most adverse effects disappear within a few weeks, even after several months of high dosages. The risk of toxicity is low because selenium is quickly excreted by the body; metal and refinery workers, however, maybe exposed to toxic levels, as selenium is used in the processing of some metals, though this occupational poisoning has been characterized as "mostly accidental and rare." Another risk group may be office workers who are at a copy machine all day, as these machines use selenium plates, which release this mineral into the air.

There have been documented cases of cystic fibrosis patients who have become gravely ill or died after taking supplemental doses that would have been well within the safe range for the average person. Despite early reports, there appears to be no link between high selenium levels and amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

There appear to be no contraindications with any drugs or any other vitamins, though vitamin C may decrease the absorption of inorganic selenium if taken at the same time.

Dosage: The RDA is 70 meg/day for men and 55 meg/day for women. There is no consensus on the optimal dose -some say 100 to 300 meg/day, while others claim good results with doses of up to 3000 meg/day, though these higher doses should be taken only while under the guidance of a physician. Nutritionist Nicola Reavley sets the toxic dosage at 600 to 750 meg/day; Dr. Stuart Berger sets the upper limit at 300 meg/day and Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., at 200 meg/day, though Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D., suggests 400 to 1000 meg/day is equivalent to the anticancer doses given to animals, and suggests supplementation of 50 to 200 meg/ day. Organic selenium (made from high-selenium yeast) has a higher nutritional value and is more readily absorbed by the body than inorganic selenium salts (sodium selenite); most multiple vitamin supplements contain the inorganic form.

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Questions and Answers

Selenium..........??????, Selenium ingested in the amount of 90 micrograms per daycauses hair loss. How many selenium atoms are in this size sample ? (At. weight of Se = 78.96 )

Plz answer......thanks !!!!!!!!!

90 microgramms = 90*10^-6g=9*10^-5g
you divide by weight of Se 9*10^-5/78.96=1.14*10^-6 mole
and multiply by avogadro's number 6.022*10^23
you fond 6.864*10^-17 atoms

How does Selenium enter the water supply and how can we eliminate it from the water supply?, i need to know for my science project...i need to know exactly from what materials gets it into the water supply and what purifying techniques will get excess selenium out of the water.

Selenium is a trace metal naturally occurring in soils derived from some sedimentary rocks. Upon oxidation to the selenate ion, it can percolate to ground water and be assimilated by plants.


Also, Selenium is a metal that is used mainly in electronics & photocopiers. However, it is also in widespread use in glass, rubber, textile & petroleum industries.

Selenium is an essential nutrient at low levels with many people even ingesting selenium supplements.

However, at toxic levels selenium can cause kidney & liver damage & problems to the nervous & circulatory systems.

The following states in the U.S. saw major selenium releases to their water & land: Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin, Indiana & Texas.


Most of the metals in our water can be dealt with by buying a good water filter.

What happens to test animals deprived of selenium? Does selenium affect the heart?, According to doctors prescribing it liver deterioration occurs in animals deprived of selenium. The same doctors say selenium is needed for healthy heart.

It has beneficial effect on liver diseases, It should not reach serum level of 400 microgram, or it can cause myocardial infarction as shown in several studies, mechanism not known.

will selenium sulfide get rid of stretch marks?, Will Selenium Sulfide get rid of stretch marks, and is it safe to use while pregnant?

try cocca butter (creme) not lotion

How do you find 1 mol of Selenium?, I need to know the molar of one atom of Se. Is it anywhere on the periodic table?
From this info I need to be able to find out how many moles there are in 2.80x10^24 atoms of Selenium.

1 mol of an atom is its atomic mass

and divide that really long number by Avagadro's number (6.02x10^23)

Which of the following statements is FALSE regarding the mineral selenium?, A. Selenium is a component of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase enzyme system.
B. Selenium is involved in the maintenance of basal metabolism and body temperature.
C. Selenium is present only in foods of animal origin.
D. Selenium is needed in minute amounts by the human body.

I know C is false as selenium is found in Brazil nuts.

Can I get selenium poisoning from a topical cream?, I was recently prescribed 2.5 % selenium lotion for a fungus on my skin. I was told the fungus is pretty harmless and easy to get rid of. The directions say leave on for only 10 minutes then wash off. If I leave it on longer, is it possible to absorb enough through my skin to be toxic.

Selenium is a trace element that people already have in their bodies. It's a healthy thing to have but only in a small amount.

It doesn't seem like it would be toxic unless you swallow it. I think the main reason they tell you wash it off is because it might discolor your skin.

If you're not sure, why don't you call the pharmacy where you bought it and ask them. The pharmacist should know.

Where Can I buy a Selenium Matador 15 in Romania?, Im looking for some tight *** stereo in my car and I am thinking of Selenium Matador 15 inch and Tornado 18 which do you think will fit a Skoda Octavia better?And where can I buy it?

anything can fit in skoda octavia(very nice car you have there)

m using an 21 inch hertz mille in my octavia so now you know anything can fir there.

its upon your need but i will recommend a 15" for tighter bass and better frequency reproduction till 80hz

What is the element Selenium used for?, I have Sciene report and i need to what is Selenium used for and if you guys can, can someone help come up with a cacthy slogan for Selenium as if it was a product and the slogan was for advertising.

Selenium is both highly toxic and at the same time a mineral needed for proper metabolism. It is used in a variety of chemical processes. One of its most well known and most valuable uses (besides being used for mineral supplements) is in the electronics industry. Here are some links:

I guess that it is interesting that it is a deadly poison and a needed trace mineral at the same time. Sometimes it is said -- "the dose alone makes the poison" -- Selenium is a good example of that.

My uncle has survived two heart attacks, and recently asked if he might be deficient in selenium?, which he had just heard is essential to heart health. I am aware of his food habits and explain that his condition could not be the result of a dietary deficiency of selenium because

a.)tap water is a source of selenium.
b.) selenium is prevalent in most food groups.
c.)he consumes legumes, a rich source of selenium.
d.)he drinks fluoridated water, which increases bioavailability of selenium.

a) false
b) doubt it, many people lack it
c) most likely answer
d) horridly false