In the UK, the risk caused by low selenium levels is higher than ever. Selenium is an essential mineral that enters the food chain from the soil that crops are grown in. As the selenium present in plants has reduced, so has the amount in our diet.

Selenium is a vital micronutrient that can protect cells from oxidation by free radicals and is part of several enzymes that deliver crucial body functions. The impact of selenium deficiency are not fully understood, but they may result in a poorly functioning immune system, impaired thyroid function, reduced cognitive function and even lower of fertility.

We compiled this list to help you navigate your way to a supplement that perfectly matches your needs. You will find information about why and how to take selenium as well as our selection of the best UK Selenium supplements.

Why take selenium? 

In the 70s the UK started recording the average daily intake in diets and that by 1997 it had reached a stable low of half the recommended daily amount. With a continuation of the low levels of selenium in soil, today it is hard to get enough selenium from our food. 

The recommended daily amount for men between 19 and 64 is 75µg. For women aged 19-64, it is 60µg. The last UK surveys indicated that the average UK diet provides only 39µg per day, leaving a large deficit. The best way to solve this problem is to increase the amount of good-quality selenium-rich foods, but because of soil quality this may not be the solution; as a result, a selenium supplement is an excellent option to boost your health and prevent deficiency.

People with sufficient selenium in their bodies have been found to have improved fertility, better thyroid function, lower risk of arterial plaque build-up, a stronger immune system and improved growth of hair and nails. In the past, there have been further claims of links to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. However, recent studies have shown that regular selenium supplementation made no difference in those cases.

While it may not be a cure-all, there is no doubt that it is an essential part of our diet that is no longer adequately available in food. Regular supplementation will allow our bodies to carry out essential functions and feel healthier.

What forms of selenium are there?

There are several different forms in which selenium is added to supplements. Whichever is in the supplement you choose, they will all be metabolised into hydrogen selenide. Then it can be used in protein synthesis or stored. Any excess selenium will be disposed of through urine or breath.

The main difference provided by these forms is how quickly they can be absorbed into your body before this metabolism occurs. The most common types are selenomethionine, selenocysteine, selenite, and selenate. Selenite and selenate are those used in supplements most, but selenomethionine and selenocysteine are better absorbed by the gut.

Another method of selenium delivery found with some supplements is ‘selenium-enriched yeast. This is a yeast that is grown in a medium of either selenite or selenate. They are used in the yeast proteins where some become selenomethionine, selenocysteine. The result is a blend of types that may result in quicker, more complete absorption for use in your body.

Are there any side effects? 

There are no severe side effects from the recommended daily amounts of selenium, but larger amounts can be toxic and ultimately fatal. This effect is called selenosis and the early symptoms to look out for are loss of hair, skin and nails. If you notice any of these symptoms, you must speak to your doctor immediately.

However, the NHS states that daily supplements of less than 350µg are unlikely to cause harm. Most studies have returned effective results for selenium supplementation between 50µg and 100µg, so it is a good idea to take amounts close to the RDA of 75µg for men and 60µg for women.

The Best Selenium Supplements available in the UK

1. Holland & Barrett Selenium 100 Tablets 50ug

This is an easily absorbed selenium supplement in the form of L-Selenomethionine with no added vitamins. If you haven’t taken selenium before, want to observe its effects or want to be able to take a smaller amount, this is the one to choose. A bottle costs a very reasonable £3.99 and contains 100 tablets of 50µg each. This way you can either start with one tablet a day and combine it with increased selenium in your diet or take two a day and take one in the morning and evening.

These tablets are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The cost of an individual tablet would work out at about 4p each. 

Key points

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

50µg of selenium delivered per tablet 

Selenium in the form of L-Selenomethionine.

100 tablets per packet

£3.99 per packet 

Approximately 4p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

2. 200µg Selenium with Vitamins A, C and E from ZipVit

This is an excellent value supplement from ZipVit with 200µg of selenium, in the form of selenate, combined with vitamins A, C and E. While this is a daily supplement ideally this would be taken once every two days to give a daily equivalent of 100µg unless directly advised by a doctor. (A daily 200µg is not indicated to be harmful in any way but more than your body needs will either be wasted or could build up to cause side effects later.) 

The combination of extra vitamins is designed to give your body everything it needs for general wellbeing, repair and maintenance. The vegetarian society approves these tablets as suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They are small, easy to swallow, and you can choose between a bottle of 180 tablets or 360. A large bottle costs £13.97, and a small one is £7.97, in both, the cost of an individual tablet works out at about 4p.

Key points

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

200µg of selenium delivered per tablet 

Selenium is provided as selenate

Additional Vitamins A, C and E

Small tablets

180 or 360 tablets per bottle

£7.97 or £13.97 per packet 

Approximately 4p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

3. Vegan Selenium with Vitamins A, C and E from Health Span

These tablets are easily absorbed and provide 200µg of selenium in the form of selenium yeast. This allows your body to make it available for use in your cells quickly and efficiently. It is also combined with beta-carotene which delivers a blend of A, C and E vitamins for an extra wellbeing boost. In each tablet, you get 100µg Vit.A, 60mg Vit.C and 10mg Vit.E. 

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians these tablets are available in packets of 240 for £12.95. The cost of an individual tablet works out as about 5p.

Key points

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

200µg of selenium delivered per tablet 

Selenium in the form of selenium-enriched yeast

Tablets are round, with a diameter of 11.4mm

Additional Vitamins A (100µg), C (60mg) and E (10mg)

240 tablets per packet

£12.95 per packet 

Approximately 5p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

4. Selenium plus A, C, E Tablets from Just Vitamins

These easy to swallow coated tablets, each contains 200µg of selenium A, C and E vitamins. The selenium is provided as sodium selenate, which is similar to that found in vegetables grown in selenium-rich soil. It is combined with a blend of A, C and E vitamins to provide a range of other wellness benefits.

Free from animal products, suitable for vegans and packed with antioxidants this is a great way to top up your selenium levels. You can choose between a pack of 180 tablets or one of 360. A large box costs £11.95, and a small one is £6.95 with a single tablet working out at about 4p and 3p respectively.

Key points

Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

200µg of selenium delivered per tablet 

Selenium in the form of selenate

Additional Vitamins A (800µg), C (60mg) and E (10mg)

Small round tablets, 9mm diameter

180 or 360 tablets per packet

£6.95 or £11.95 per packet 

Approximately 4p or 3p per tablet

Buy these tablets now

Conclusion

Selenium provides a wide range of functions in your body, including fighting oxidation and building crucial enzymes. Topping up the amount you already get in your diet with a supplement is a great way to ensure that you reach the recommended daily amount. This has the potential to have benefits like better cognitive function, stronger immune system, boost your thyroid function and even reduce asthma symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best selenium supplement?

The best supplements are Holland and Barratt’s 50µg selenium tablets and ZipVit’s 200µg tablets with A, C and E vitamins.

What are selenium tablets good for?

Selenium is a vital micronutrient that can protect cells from oxidation by free radicals and is part of several enzymes that deliver crucial body functions. Taking a daily selenium supplement may also boost your immune system, thyroid activity, cognitive function, fertility and improve the strength of your hair and nails.

Which foods have a lot of selenium?

Brazil nuts, Fish, Meat, Sunflower seeds, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Brown rice, Spinach, Oats, Milk, Lentils, Cashews and Bananas all contain selenium. However, the actual amount they provide depends on their access to selenium-rich soil or food sources.

Is it safe to take selenium every day?

High doses of selenium of 400µg every day are likely to cause it to build up in your body and create selenosis (selenium toxicity). This can result in loss of hair, skin and nails, and will eventually be fatal. Doses of under 350µg a day are considered to be safe, but it is recommended to take only as much as you need to get your recommended dietary allowance per day. This is 75µg for men and 60µg for women.

About The Author

Health and Wellness Editor

Tim W. Shaw writes extensively about CBD oil, medical cannabis and other ground-breaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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