Top 30 Selenium-Rich Foods

The 30 Best Selenium Foods

The following overview shows the 30 best selenium-containing foods based on 100 grams. It is important to know that the selenium content depends on many factors and the information can vary greatly.

Vegetables with a lot of selenium

Certain types of vegetables, such as onions and cabbage , are particularly good at storing selenium . Porcini mushrooms are top of the list. Other varieties such as root vegetables, tomatoes and cucumbers are only partially able to enrich the trace element.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Porcini mushrooms 187
  • Garlic 5.7
  • Paprika (green) 4.3
  • Aubergine 3,9
  • Endive 2,8
  • White cabbage 2.4


Compared to vegetables or grains, fruits contribute the least to the supply of selenium. They contain only very small amounts of the trace element. Dried figs and tangerines are comparatively good sources of selenium.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Figs, dried 5.6
  • Tangerines 2,4

Cereals with a lot of selenium

The less the grain is processed, the more selenium it contains. Whole grain products are therefore good suppliers.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Brown rice 10.0
  • Oatmeal, whole grain 9.7
  • Quinoa 8,5
  • Buckwheat 8.3

Legumes with a lot of selenium

Legumes can also contribute to a good selenium intake.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Soybeans 19.0
  • Beans, white 14.0
  • Mung beans 11,0
  • lenses 9.8
  • Chickpeas 9.0

Nuts and seeds with a lot of selenium

Nuts and seeds are very good suppliers of selenium , but the origin is also crucial here. This applies in particular to Brazil nuts, whose selenium content can vary enormously depending on the country of origin. In addition, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends not consuming more than 2 Brazil nuts per day, as they also contain large amounts of radioactive radium in addition to selenium.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Coconut 810.0
  • Brazil nuts 103.0
  • Linseed 38.0
  • Cashew nuts 20,0

Animal foods high in selenium

Animal foods are considered a reliable source of selenium in Germany without major fluctuations. This is because animal feed is often fortified with mineral compounds containing selenium. This not only increases the selenium content, but also improves the fertility and the immune system of the animals in addition to the meat quality.

Food selenium content in µg per 100 g

  • Tuna (raw) 82.0
  • Shrimp 50.0
  • Redfish (spirit) 44,0
  • Calf liver 22.0
  • Pork schnitzel 14.0
  • Gouda, at least 40% fat in dry matter 12.0
  • Chicken, fried chicken 10.0
  • chicken egg 10.0

Other foods

Thanks to the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, another selenium-rich food has recently come onto the market: the new apple innovation Selstar. The new variety was developed as part of a research project. Compared to normal apples, which hardly contribute to the selenium supply, the Selstar contains ten times as much selenium with around 17 micrograms per 100 grams. This covers around a third of the daily requirement. The high selenium content is the result of special forms of cultivation , which enable the apple trees to better absorb the trace element and store it in the fruit. Due to the high selenium content, the innovative apple represents a natural alternative to dietary supplements.

What does selenium contain?

Selenium belongs to the group of trace elements and is essential for life . This means that the human body cannot produce selenium on its own, so we have to get it from food. The trace element is involved in numerous processes in the organism, among other things it ensures the antioxidant effect of enzymes and thus protects against cell damage . In addition, selenium is involved in the formation of thyroid hormones and, as a building block of sperm, is essential for male fertility.

There are many foods containing selenium. However, the amounts of selenium contained are usually rather small. In particular, the content of plant foods can vary greatly because it depends on the nature of the soil. Due to the fortification of feed, animal foods such as meat, sausage, eggs, seafood and farmed fish are considered a more reliable source of selenium in Germany .

Note on the selenium content

The selenium content of the soil is decisive for the selenium content of plant foods. Depending on the growing conditions, this content is subject to fluctuations. Selenium-poor soils predominate in Europe, so plant-based foods are in most cases not a sufficient source of selenium. In other countries, such as the USA, the selenium content of the soil is significantly higher. Another example is Finland, where mineral fertilizers are enriched with selenium in order to increase the selenium content of plant-based foods.

That’s how high the selenium requirement is per day

The exact need for selenium cannot be determined. Professional societies therefore speak of so-called estimated values ​​for an appropriate selenium intake.

Reference values ​​for daily selenium intake:

  • Infants: 10 micrograms
  • 0-4 months: 60 micrograms
  • Men: 70 micrograms
  • Women: 60 micrograms
  • Breastfeeding: 75 micrograms

Anyone who eats a balanced and wholesome diet can easily cover their daily needs with foods containing selenium . This also applies to the vegetarian diet, provided you eat enough selenium-rich vegetables such as cabbage, mushrooms, legumes and onions.

Promote selenium absorption

Certain plants such as Brazil nuts, mushrooms or cabbage can store selenium better than other types of vegetables. These should be incorporated more into the menu.

In addition , the simultaneous intake of vitamins A and E improves the absorption of selenium. Vitamin C is also beneficial, but only in normal amounts through the consumption of foods containing vitamin C. High-dose vitamin C supplements, in turn, reduce selenium absorption.

Store and process selenium foods correctly

The selenium content of food depends not only on the nature of the soil, but also on the degree of processing of the food . This applies in particular to grain: the finer and more heavily the grain is ground, the less of the trace element it contains. Conversely, the higher the flour type, the more selenium and other nutrients are retained.

The same applies to the storage of foods containing selenium as to most nutrients: store as cool and dark as possible . In addition , only heat briefly so that the health-promoting ingredients are preserved.

When should I take selenium?

Selenium deficiency

A selenium deficiency due to insufficient intake is very rare in Germany and Europe . A deficiency can only occur if too little selenium is consumed over a longer period of time. This becomes noticeable through a weakened immune system , impairment of muscle function or disturbed sperm formation.

In this country, a selenium deficiency tends to occur in diseases with impaired absorption or increased loss of selenium . These include chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, cystic fibrosis and renal insufficiency.

Selenium poisoning

If extremely high doses of preparations are taken in over a long period of time, a so-called selenosis can occur. Possible consequences of this acute selenium poisoning are:

  • neurological disorders
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • disturbed nail formation
  • garlic-like breath odor
  • heart failure
  • ventricular fibrillation.

Selenium tablets: dosage and risks

In most cases, the daily requirement can be covered by foods containing selenium. Nevertheless, there are risk groups for which supplementation can make sense. These include:

  • vegan
  • people who have a very one-sided diet
  • dialysis patients
  • people with eating disorders
  • diseases with disturbed absorption of nutrients in the intestine

Selenium supplements should always be taken in consultation with the doctor treating you. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), up to 300 micrograms of selenium per day are safe for adults – most dietary supplements only contain 200 micrograms. If the preparations are taken as directed, negative effects are unlikely. Selenium supplements are not recommended for children under the age of 10.


What happens with selenium deficiency?

If too little selenium is ingested in the long term, deficiency symptoms can occur. These include disorders of muscle function, increased susceptibility to infections and impairment of thyroid function. It can also lead to reduced fertility in men because sperm production is disrupted.

Which selenium is best?

The bioavailability – i.e. how well a nutrient can be absorbed by the body – is between 85-100% for selenium from plant foods and between 20-50% for animal foods. However, the strong fluctuations in the selenium content of plants should be taken into account. Selenium from dietary supplements (selenite, selenate) is 50-60% bioavailable. In contrast, selenium from food (selenium cysteine, selenomethionine) with a bioavailability of over 90% is absorbed much better.

Which plants contain selenium?

The selenium content in plant foods depends on the selenium content of the soil and can therefore vary greatly. Nevertheless, there are plants that can store selenium better than others. This group includes brassicas (kale, red cabbage, broccoli, etc.), bulbs (garlic, onions, etc.), mushrooms, legumes, grains, nuts (e.g. Brazil nuts) and seeds (e.g. flaxseed).

How can vegans get enough selenium?

With a vegan diet, you should pay more attention to the regular consumption of foods containing selenium. In addition, selenium-rich foods from countries with selenium-rich soils (e.g. Brazil nuts from Bolivia, legumes from Canada) can support an adequate supply. If this is not sufficient, it can make sense to take selenium supplements – but only after consulting a doctor.

How many Brazil nuts can you eat per day?

According to the DGE, eating 2 Brazil nuts a day is harmless. However, you should not eat more, as the nuts contain large amounts of radioactive radium in addition to selenium.

Which fruits contain selenium?

Compared to other foods, fruit and berries contain negligible amounts. Dried figs and tangerines deliver the most. The new apple variety Selstar is an exception: With around 17 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams, it covers a large part of the daily requirement.

Does oatmeal contain selenium?

Oatmeal is a good source of selenium, containing nearly 10 micrograms per 100 grams. A 60 gram serving of oatmeal provides about six micrograms of selenium, which is about 10% of your daily requirement.

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Written by Florentina Lewis

Hello! My name is Florentina, and I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a background in teaching, recipe development, and coaching. I'm passionate about creating evidence-based content to empower and educate people to live healthier lifestyles. Having been trained in nutrition and holistic wellness, I use a sustainable approach toward health & wellness, using food as medicine to help my clients achieve that balance they are looking for. With my high expertise in nutrition, I can create customized meal plans that fit a specific diet (low-carb, keto, Mediterranean, dairy-free, etc.) and target (losing weight, building muscle mass). I am also a recipe creator and reviewer.

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