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Dosage Recommendations

The RDA for selenium is 70 micrograms for adult men and 55 micrograms for adult women.

For anti-carcinogenic or immunostimulant therapeutic benefits, daily doses in the range of 400 to 1,000 micrograms need to be taken.

To maintain optimal immune function, we recommend taking  200 microgram selenium every other day. This is a safe amount. (Consult your physician before taking higher doses.) Take it with 30 to 400 IUs of Vitamin E to get synergistic effect.

For children below seven years of age, supplemental intake should not exceed 100 micrograms daily.

If you are prone to infections, try increasing your selenium intake to 400 micrograms daily, then reduce the dose to 200 micrograms after a few months.

If you are infected with HIV, start with 800 micrograms of selenium daily for a month, then reduce the dosage to 400 micrograms daily.

If you travel through Africa or Asia, where outbreaks of various hemorrhagic fevers occur with regularity, selenium supplementation may have to be increased.

The form of the selenium supplement is important.

Form of Selenium Supplements

There are two general types of selenium supplements available to consumers. These are classified under organic and inorganic.

The inorganic form of selenium is called selenite.

Organic selenium is the major nutritional form of selenium, the form that is present in the foods. The organic forms available are usually derived from a  brewer's yeast enriched in selenium. The major food form of selenium is L-selenomethionine (selenium bound to methionine, an essential amino acid).

Some research suggests that selenite is harder for the body to absorb than the organic form of selenium. (5,6) However, other research on both animals and humans suggests that selenite supplements are almost as good as organic forms of selenium. (7,8) We recommend that you take the organic form of selenium.

Organic selenium yeast has a much lower potential for either toxicity or mutagenicity than the inorganic sodium selenite. Inorganic sodium selenite reacts with vitamin C in a way that may decrease absorption of selenium. This is not true of organic selenium. It has been reported that long-term use of sodium selenite at 1 milligram per day or higher for prolonged periods has toxic effects. No toxicity has been reported with organic selenium in similar doses. In any case, we recommend that you take no more than 200 micrograms of selenium daily, in any form.


People can consume up to 750 to 850 micrograms of selenium daily without side effects. Some clinicians have reported using up to 1,000 micrograms of organic selenium daily in selected patients for prolonged periods without signs of toxicity.

Don't take selenium at the same time you take vitamin C if using the inorganic form of selenium.

The symptoms of selenium overdose include the smell of garlic on the breath (when you haven't eaten garlic) and skin, loss of hair, thick but brittle fingernails, metallic taste, dizziness and nausea without other apparent cause, depression, nervousness, emotional instability, and vomiting.


In the presence of iodine-deficiency induced goiter, selenium supplementation has been reported to exacerbate low thyroid function.(9)

Selenium enhances the antioxidant effect of vitamin E.

If you are taking corticosteroids (such as prednisone), you may need extra selenium. (9)

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  1. Stewart MS, Spalholz JE, Neldner KH, and Pence BC. Selenium compounds have disparate abilities to impose oxidative stress and induce apoptosis. Free Radic Biol Med 26: 42-48, 1999.

  2. Shiobara Y, Yoshida T, and Suzuki KT. Effects of dietary selenium species on Se concentrations in hair, blood, and urine. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 152: 309-314, 1998.

  3. Wen HY, Davis RL, and Shi B. Bioavailability of selenium from veal, chicken, beef, lamb, flounder, tuna, selenomethionine, and sodium selenite assessed in selenium-deficient rats. Biol Trace Elem Res 58: 43-53, 1997.

  4. Neve J. Human selenium supplementation as assessed by changes in blood selenium concentration and glutathione peroxidase activity. J Trace Elem Med Biol 9: 65-73, 1995.

  5. Peretz A, et al. Selenium in rheumatic diseases. Semin Arth Rheum 20: 305-316, 1991.

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