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
Table of Contents
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
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
After careful consideration, these are the best selenium supplements we’ve found in the UK:
1. 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
The combination of extra vitamins is designed to give your body everything it needs for general wellbeing, repair and maintenance. 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
My Supplement Recommendations
These are products that I currently use and enthusiastically recommend:
Nootropic – Mind Lab Pro contains eleven natural nootropics that have been proven to support cognitive function and brain health. Read my review.
Collagen – Edible Health Bovine Collagen. This excellent bovine collagen powder is completely tasteless and absorbs quickly into any liquid. It’s third-party lab tested and provides 13g of collagen per serving. Read my review.
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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.
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