Nutrient Spotlight: Selenium

Selenium content in food is dependent upon selenium levels in the soil were plants are grown1. For that matter, content in animal products will depend upon selenium in the soil where the animals are raised and where their feed was grown. In the U.S., the highest levels are found in Eastern Coastal Plain and the Pacific Northwest2. Around the world, the lowest levels can be found in some parts of China and Russia1.

Deficiencies are fairly uncommon in the U.S. due to the higher selenium content in American soil1. Deficiencies have led to the development of some heart problems (i.e. Keshan disease), hypothyroidism, and a compromised immune system, making the body more susceptible to infectious diseases. People with gastrointestinal disorders, like Crohn’s disease, or those who have undergone surgery to remove part of the stomach may have decreased absorption of selenium in the intestines.  Those with an iodine dysfunction may also benefit from increased selenium intake to improve thyroid function.

A PubMed search on recent selenium research reveals potential links with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, thyroid diseases, depression, neurologic disorders, pancreatitis and diabetes4. However, the research in this area in mostly preliminary and the role of selenoproteins is not fully understood. An individual’s genetic make-up may also play an important role in the use of selenoproteins.

Eggs are an excellent source of selenium containing about 22% of the daily value or 15.4 mcg in a whole egg3. Other good sources include: Brazil nuts, tuna, cod, turkey, bagels, or chicken1.  Below is a tasty recipe that pairs the eggs with another good source of selenium.

Turkey-Vegetable Hash Brown Quiche



2 cups frozen vegetable blend (12 oz.), defrosted

½ cup diced cooked turkey or chicken

5 eggs

1 cup milk

½ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sliced almonds


1 egg

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (12 oz.), defrosted


1. FOR CRUST: Heat oven to 375°F. BEAT egg and salt in medium bowl until blended. ADD potatoes; mix well. Press evenly against bottom and sides of greased deep 9-inch pie plate. Bake in 375°F oven 5 minutes.

2. Place vegetables in crust; top with turkey. Beat 5 eggs, milk and 1/2 tsp. salt in medium bowl until blended. Pour slowly over turkey. Sprinkle with almonds.

3. Bake in center of oven until center is puffed and knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 198, Total Fat: 7g, Saturated fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1g, Monounsaturated fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 197mg, Sodium: 416mg, Carbohydrates: 18g, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Protein: 14g, Vitamin A: 1103.3IU, Vitamin D: 61.9IU, Folate: 29.5mcg, Calcium: 105.1mg, Iron: 1.9mg, Choline: 143mg


1.  National Institutes of Health. Selenium. Office of Dietary Supplements April 9, 2013.

2.  Medline Plus. Selenium in diet. Accessed June 14, 2016

3. Egg Nutrition Center. All in one egg! Patient/Client Education Materials. Accessed April 8, 2013.

4. Sanmartin C, Plano D, Font M, Palop JA. Selenium and clinical trials: New therapeutic evidence for multiple diseases. Curr Med Chem. 2011;18(30):4635-4650.