Selenium (Se) is a mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. It is required in trace amounts for normal health and is an important element in several metabolic pathways. The amount of the mineral contained can vary depending on how much Se is in the soil in which the plant was grown.
This mineral works in conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione (an important antioxidant) and vitamin B3 as an antioxidant to prevent free radical damage in the body.
Diets high in refined foods may also lead to deficiency as Se can be destroyed by food processing. Also, malabsorption (defects occurring during the absorption and digestion of food nutrients and also due to infections of the gastrointestinal tract) problems can lead to Se deficiency.
A deficiency in Se can affect thyroid function and lead to diseases such as: Keshan disease (a congestive cardiomyopathy), increased risk of cancer, Kashin-Beck disease (results in osteoarthropathy) and weakened immune system.
How much does an adult need daily?
The recommended dietary allowance for Se is 55 micrograms for adults and adolescents over the age of 13. The daily value (DV) for Se intake is 70 micrograms per day.
Top 10 vegetable foods highest in selenium list:
#1 Brazil nuts
These rank highest in Se content per 100 grams and the count is so high that it’s virtually off the chart. Just one Brazil nut per day can provide 75 micrograms of Se.
#2 Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are not only a tasty snack but are also healthy for you. The National Sunflower Association says that an ounce of sunflower seeds contains nearly 24% of the recommended dietary allowance of Se for men and 31% for women.
#3 Mushrooms (shiitake and portobello)
Mushrooms are usually classified as a herb or a vegetable, but they are actually fungi. Cooked mushrooms are low in fat, have zero saturated, trans fats and bad cholesterol (LDL) and are low in sodium. The Se level in mushrooms is derived from the growing medium. For example, 4 cooked shiitake mushrooms contain 17.9 micrograms of Se, more than a 3rd of the RDA, and grilled Portobello mushrooms have 26.5 micrograms of Se per serving, nearly half of the daily RDA for an adult.
#4 Whole grains
Consumption of whole grains has been linked with a reduced risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and colon and stomach cancer. A cup of enriched pasta contains 37 micrograms, and a cup of cooked brown rice contains 19 micrograms. One slice of whole-wheat bread, 1 cup of oatmeal and 1 cup of baked beans each contains 13 micrograms of Se.
The unique combination of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pro-detoxification components in broccoli make it a unique food in terms of cancer prevention. The Se that your body obtains from broccoli is used to synthesize enzymes known as selenoproteins. A 1-cup serving of chopped, raw broccoli contains 2.3 micrograms of Se.
Asparagus has been used from early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor and diuretic properties. The amount of Se in 1 cup of cooked Asparagus is about 3.06 micrograms.
#7 Garbanzo beans
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a good source of folate, insoluble fiber, and vitamin B6. 1 cup of chickpeas contains 6,1 micrograms of Se.
#8 Lima/Pinto Beans
Lima beans, sometimes called butter beans, are a flat-shaped, creamy white-colored bean, and are a great source of dietary fiber and protein. 1 cup cooked beans contain 10 micrograms of Se, about 17% of your daily requirement.
#9 Mustard seeds
This spice is actually an excellent source of Se in many cases. Fresh, organic ground mustard seeds are probably best to be included in your diet, but any mustard is good.
#10 Chia seeds
Chia seeds have become one of the most trendy superfoods in the health community. Originally grown in Mexico, the seeds were highly valued for their medicinal properties and nutritional value. One cup of chia seeds provides 28% of your daily necessity of selenium.