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5 Signs You’re Experiencing Selenium Deficiency

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
A pile of chickpeas on a table. Fatigue, chronic cold, infertility, and slow wound healing are signs of selenium deficiency.

Antioxidants have an enormously positive impact on our health but rarely does anyone specifically cite the significance of selenium, a powerful nutrient that double up as an antioxidant. Its positive impact on the immune system, brain health, and reproductive system is something that doesn't get the attention it deserves. Neither do the negative health impacts of selenium deficiency. Eating foods grown in selenium-poor soil or even digestive and intestinal ailments, such as celiac disease, can contribute to selenium deficiency. Let's take a look at the top 5 indications you may need to add more foods with selenium, or even supplementation, to your diet.

Signs of Selenium Deficiency

1. Foggy Memory

Feeling spacey? A cloudy mind coupled with short-term (and even long-term) memory issues could be a sign of a selenium deficiency. While many people are ready to pass off memory concerns as a natural part of aging, that may not be the case. A lack of selenium has been shown to interfere with cognitive function. This isn't limited to memory; analytical thinking skills and concentration can also be affected. [1]

2. Fatigue

Selenium is necessary for converting the T4 thyroid hormone (thyroxine) into the active hormone T3 (triiodothyronine). If these hormones are off, the risk for developing hypothyroidism – a condition associated with lethargy, depression, and uncontrolled weight gain – increases. While iodine is also necessary for proper thyroid health, a deficiency in selenium also contributes to protecting the thyroid and regulating important hormonal function. [2]

3. Chronic Cold or Flu

Selenium supports the immune system and contributes to your body's natural defenses against the cold, flu, and other immune-compromised conditions. Hypothyroidism, a condition that can be influenced by selenium deficiency, negatively interferes with the immune system’s response to invading germs. The immune system also requires cells to communicate with each other when dealing with germs and bacteria. Selenium, as an antioxidant, supports this communication. [3]

4. Infertility

Infertility can stem from many causes and willy-nilly ascribing fertility issues to selenium deficiency isn't the best protocol. However, selenium does affect sperm quality and motility. In fact, the combination of selenium and vitamin E seem to work synergistically to promote male fertility. [4]

5. Slow Wound Healing

Got a cut or bruise that just doesn't heal as quickly as it should? Maybe you're not getting enough selenium. Part of the benefit of selenium being an antioxidant is that it helps cell tissue repair. When wounds don’t heal, or heal very slowly, it's worth examining your selenium status as research suggests that selenium may help wounds heal faster. [5]

Getting Enough Selenium

While one or more of the above concerns may indicate a selenium deficiency, it should be noted that not everyone who experiences these issues is experiencing selenium deficiency. Regardless, it's something to keep in mind. If you have any of these concerns, double check your nutritional intake and consider adding more foods rich in selenium to your diet. Supplementation may also be something to consider but be sure to get a high-quality selenium supplement. I recommend our vegan-friendly selenium supplement, extracted from 100% organic mustard seeds.

References (5)
  1. Pillai R, Uyehara-Lock JH, Bellinger FP. Selenium and selenoprotein function in brain disorders. IUBMB Life. 2014 March 25. doi: 10.1002/iub.1262.
  2. Rodrigo Moreno-Reyes, M.D., Carl Suetens, M.D., Françoise Mathieu, B.S.P.T., Fraçoise Begaux, B.S.P.T., Dun Zhu, M.D., Maria T. Rivera, Ph.D., Marleen Boelaert, M.D., Jean Nève, Ph.D., Noémi Perlmutter, M.D., and Jean Vanderpas, M.D., Ph.D. Kashin-Beck Osteoarthropathy in Rural Tibet in Relation to Selenium and Iodine Status. New England Journal of Medicine. 1998; 339:1112-1120. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM199810153391604
  3. John R. Arthur, Roderick C. McKenzie, and Geoffrey J. Beckett. Selenium in the Immune System. The Journal of Nutrition. May 1, 2003. vol. 133 no. 5 14575-14595.
  4. Mohammad K Moslemi and Samaneh Tavanbakhsh. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. International Journal of General Medicine. 2011; 4: 99-104.
  5. Gumustekin K, Seven B, Karabulut N, Aktas O, Gursan N, Aslan S, Keles M, Varoglu E, Dane S. Effects of sleep deprivation, nicotine, and selenium on wound healing in rats. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2004 November;114(11):1433-42.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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