s4 e9: selenium deep dive

Selenium Deep Dive

This is our last mineral deep dive of season 4. I covered 7 minerals over the last 8 episodes (iron was a doozy) and will be wrapping up the mineral deep dives with a look at selenium. As always we will go through what selenium does in the body, the recommended daily intake, how it impacts our hormones, and then I will answer your questions at the end with a rapid fire. If you want to learn about the different mineral interactions with selenium, hear me walk through a case study of a client that benefited from selenium, and get a sample day of optimizing the selenium in our food, you can get access to all bonus content on patreon.com/hormonehealingrd.com

As always, this episode is for informational purposes only. Please talk with your healthcare provider before you make any nutrition, lifestyle, or supplement changes. 

This episode covers:

  • What does selenium do in the body? {2:57}
  • Deficiency and toxicity of selenium {8:35}
  • How does selenium impact the thyroid? {17:28}
  • The connection between selenium and fertility {31:45}
  • What minerals interact with selenium status? {36:51}
  • Do high selenium foods have high mercury? {42:21}

Master Your Minerals Course

Free Resources:
Mineral Imbalance Quiz
Mineral Training
Thyroid Training
Feminine Periodical (monthly newsletter)

Episodes mentioned:
Calcium deep dive
Magnesium deep dive
Sodium deep dive
Potassium deep dive
Zinc deep dive
Iron deep dive part 1
Iron deep dive part 2
Iodine episode



RDA, Deficiency, Excess:



Listen Now

Apple Podcasts



This is our last mineral deep dive of season four, I can’t believe it. I covered seven minerals over the last eight episodes. The first episode was all about different types of ways to test your minerals. And yeah, iron was a doozy. That’s why it’s like eight episodes for seven minerals, we had to do a two parter on that one. And I’m going to be wrapping up the mineral deep dives with a look at selenium, a mineral that is not super well known. It’s not like a macro mineral. So it’s not a main mineral that we’d want to focus on. First, I want to reiterate that because we’re gonna go through some cool things with Selenium. And this episode, and I know everyone’s gonna want to run out and be like, Oh, I’m gonna get a Selenium supplement. I don’t think it hurts to focus on selenium rich foods. But ideally, we want to focus on calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium first, and then we can focus on other minerals like iron, copper, selenium, things like that. So we’re going to go through everything we typically do for the deep dive. So I’m going to talk about what selenium does in the body. I’m going to go through the recommended daily intake, how it impacts hormones, thyroids, fertility, all that fun stuff. And then at the end, I’m going to do another rapid fire in answer your questions that you submitted to me on Instagram. If you want to learn more about like the different mineral interactions invite there’s a lot of vitamin interactions with Selenium too. Or if you want to hear me walk through, I’m going to go through two case studies in the bonus episode, so one with a dist selenium deficiency, and one with access selenium. And then I have another sample day of eating to optimize minerals. And that one specifically for selenium, you can get all that content on patreon.com/hormone Healing rd. 

And as always, before I get into everything, just remember this episode is for informational purposes only. Please talk with your health care provider before you make any nutrition lifestyle or supplement changes. All right, let’s talk about what selenium does in the body. I think it’s most well known for how it impacts thyroid health, which I mean, it’s definitely crucial for thyroid health, we need enough selenium in order to activate thyroid hormone, which is why it’s a very important cofactor. For iodine. We’re going to talk about iodine in a little bit when we talk about thyroid. But I did do a whole episode on it. In season two. It’s actually my most popular podcast episodes. Still, it’s kind of crazy. But selenium is important for a lot of other things in the body. So when I think of selenium, I think thyroid I think antioxidant and inflammation because it’s a very powerful antioxidant, which means it’s it’s going to help protect the body from inflammation, oxidative stress, it helps protect our cell membranes, it can prevent lipids from getting oxidized. So it’s really important for cholesterol. So definitely antioxidant power. And then the last year I think of his immune system. And I think that’s something that it’s not as well known for. But I think like probably if you’re a practitioner working with clients who do hair testing, you know, like Selenium is very important for the immune system. Does it mean that more is better? I think that’s like something I want to reiterate. Because we need enough selenium, it’s but the way that it impacts the immune system is very complex. And it has shown to be helpful for things like viral infections, allergies, asthma, the like an aging immune system, like in the elderly, and against certain cancers. But you have to consider someone selenium status. So like if, for example, a lot of that research if the participant didn’t have a selenium deficiency, the Selenium actually wasn’t helpful, or not as helpful as the groups that did have a selenium deficiency. So just something to consider, but I don’t think it ever hurts to like try to optimize it from food. But yeah, so it’s also very important for our immune system. So really, we’re thinking thyroid, it’s essential, powerful antioxidant, it’s essential inflammation that because of it can help act as an antioxidant. It helps the body with a lot of different things. I would say like a big one is heart health, like cardiovascular health is huge. There’s a lot of research on selenium and cardiovascular health because of how it helps protect our cell membranes and lipids from being oxidized. So it’s helpful for having like really good cholesterol panels, and things like that. There’s also when I was doing research, I’m very into mental health I feel like I say it’s never episode but like that’s kind of like my what my big like continuing education thing is for like this year and next year for a course that I’m taking, but I’ve always kind of like with everything now I’m like okay, well how does this impact mental health and selenium? There’s actually a lot of research on selenium and Alzheimer’s and just like cognitive decline in general. And because it’s this powerful antioxidant, and they can help protect ourselves from being damaged. It’s very helpful and protective. 

Again, and things like Alzheimer’s against cognitive decline as we age. So I thought that was really interesting, as well. And then the last like big thing I think of with Selenium and this is really like the antioxidant power. But I want to like, Give an example is that it’s a precursor to glutathione. And I think if you’ve been in the functional health space for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of glutathione. It’s a very powerful detox antioxidant. And, yeah, we’re going to talk about it more when we talk about thyroid, but selenium is essential for that amongst other minerals too, and like amino acids and stuff. But it is an important piece of that. So that’s kind of like the quick rundown of like what selenium does in the body what it’s most important for, but it is one of those really powerful antioxidants. And it just it’s very protective in the body. So when it comes to the RDA, the recommended daily allowance there is an RDA for selenium. Some minerals only have an adequate intake because they don’t have enough research. But there is an RDA and it is 55 micrograms. So tiny amounts right. For men and women. And then for women, it does increase to 60 micrograms during pregnancy, and 70 micrograms during lactation. Which makes sense because if you ever look at like the iodine RDA, that increases during pregnancy and lactation as well, our thyroids working way harder during that time. So in and like we’re using it more nutrients in general. So that’s, it’s really typical to see it increase one thing, and we’re going to talk about, like, what causes a selenium deficiency. And then like some symptoms, but I do also want to talk about the upper intake level for selenium because something that I’ve seen in practice, since I do I do hair testing with every single client,there can be excess selenium and some people actually don’t respond well to selenium. Like, for example, if someone’s gonna start like an iodine protocol, some people actually don’t respond well to selenium. So it’s often because there’s other imbalances, but it sometimes is because they already have an excess of it. So there is an upper intake, like a tolerable upper intake level for selenium, where if you go above this amount, it can become toxic. And for for most like nutrient micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, it’s usually pretty high, like something that you would have to take supplements to achieve. And I still think for selenium, unless you’re eating like a lot of Brazil nuts. Like, you’d have to be eating a lot of them to go above this and actually absorbing all that selenium from them, which is not likely. But it could be easy to and I’ve seen people like come to me taking way more than this from supplements. And it’s usually not on purpose. It’s usually like a math thing, like they like didn’t calculate it correctly. So I do want to mention this, it is 400 micrograms for men and women alike across the board, even during pregnancy and lactation. So that’s just something important to keep in mind. We don’t want to take too much selenium because it can cause negative symptoms. So first, I’ll go through deficiency, and then I’ll talk about toxicity. The classic like if you say I think I may be deficient in Selenium to your doctor, like what they’re gonna think of is keshan disease, like this is what I learned in school about what selenium deficiency is like. It’s kind of like your classic clinical example. It’s the extreme example. And catching diseases when you have like liver cirrhosis, like your livers really not functioning well. It’s really at the end of its rope, white nail beds, your fingernails can actually be falling out. And then lots of like cardiac insufficiency, you can have fibrosis and even necrosis of the tissue. So it’s extreme. I think that with any vitamin or mineral like, I just don’t love looking in like a black and white like, oh, it’s either normal and it’s good or it’s deficient, like there can be a spectrum. And I that’s how I look at selenium, I definitely would consider like there’s more mild symptoms of selenium deficiency that may, they may not be as extreme as caching but it doesn’t mean you have optimal levels. So this kind of goes back to the first episode where I talked about like optimal labs versus like optimal functional ranges of labs versus like your conventional ranges. So like conventionally selenium deficiency is caching disease or nothing, right. But if we look at it from a more functional and holistic perspective, if we don’t have optimal levels of selenium, then we could experience other more mild symptoms like hair loss, or just brittle nails or hair, impaired thyroid function, because memory is really important for utilizing thyroid hormone, worsening of immune autoimmune conditions like Hashimotos. I’m going to there’s a lot with Selenium Hashimotos. When we do the thyroid section, I’m going to talk about this specifically, so don’t worry if you have eyeshadows and you’re curious, we’ll go into more detail. Macular Degeneration, frequent yeast infections, unfavorable, unfavorable lipid ratios, like I talked about, it’s really, 

Selenium can help protect lipids from being oxidized. So when we don’t have enough we can have not enough good cholesterol and too much bad cholesterol. It can lead to fertility issues. And we’re gonna talk about men’s and women’s fertility with Selenium. And then iron deficiency. So iron deficiency and hemolytic anemia, which I talked about those last episode, the part two of iron, those can be impacted by selenium because of how selenium impacts glutathione peroxidase, which is an enzyme that can impact iron iron levels, but also like hemolytic anemia, like how your red blood cells are being broken down. So selenium is important for that, again, Selenium is not like a macro mineral. So you wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be like, Oh, I’m gonna give this client’s selenium because they have an iron deficiency. But I would assess like, I would definitely include the assessment of their selenium when looking at the whole big picture for them. But I just thought that was interesting. We need more research on selenium and iron deficiency, in my opinion, I think that a lot of it is how excess copper can be antagonistic to selenium. So a lot of people will have too much copper, but it’s not bioavailable, what most people refer to as copper toxicity. I just feel like it’s such an extreme phrase. And I’m like, this is like not really what’s happening in the body. But okay. But copper toxicity could push down selenium lead to a selenium deficiency. And both of those things paired together could absolutely lead to your bloodwork looking like your iron deficient, or like, or more destruction of red blood cells and like hemolytic anemia. So it’s like a part of the puzzle, we need more research and how it impacts it. But that’s like, we’re what my kind of like theory is for iron deficiency and selenium. Okay, so what causes a selenium deficiency? Mate, there’s made two major things.

One is a lack of selenium rich foods in the diet. So this could be like someone’s not getting enough organ meats. Maybe they’re not eating seafood, or Brazil nuts. Like I mentioned, those are very high in selenium. Or you’re just not eating a lot of animal foods in general, because in general, most animal foods, especially like muscle meats, have some amount of selenium when it comes, or it could be the soil that they’re eating it from. So this is obviously not anyone’s fault, though. And you’re not necessarily going to know if your soil is lacking selenium. But if the soil selenium levels in the soil can vary greatly, like depending on where you live all over the world. But I mean, I’m focusing primarily on the US because that’s where I live and my clients live. And it can, you can have like really high levels and some soil, like I think it’s like Wyoming, there’s a few other places that I can’t think of off top my head Wyoming’s, like one of us, I had a client there that she had, like, really access selenium no matter what we did, and we realized it was like coming from where she was living, and our water source and all that. But there are places you can stay to can have too much selenium in your soil, I would say most of them, it’s like three or four states to, I mean, most of them it’s deficient. So that’s just something to keep in mind. Like you might be eating the foods, but maybe they’re not rich in them. animal foods are a good way to ensure that you are getting that selenium because they’re much more stable across the board. That’s why Brazil nuts are tricky, because you don’t know how much selenium is in a brazil nut. It can really depend on where they’re grown. And then the other big one is methylation deficiencies. This one I it applies. It’s not going to lower your Selenium levels. But it could impact how you’re using selenium. So if you can get selenium deficiency symptoms, like maybe you’re having hair loss, maybe your nails, like you’re noticing your nails are super brittle. Maybe you’re having frequent infections and getting sick all the time. And I mean, those things could all be related to other things as well. But since we’re focusing on selenium, we’ll keep it in that lens of like, you know, I have a lot of these signs and symptoms. But I definitely, like get enough selenium in my diet, it could be that you’re not methylating well, and that can methylation can impair how you are using selenium. And maybe it’s your body’s not able to actually process it and use it so it looks like you’re deficient. 

On the other hand, we can also get access selenium from poor methylation, which we’ll talk about in a second. So that selenium deficiency, typically it’s like you’re not getting enough in your diet. You could also like remember, we can be born with deficiencies like we’re getting our nutrients from mom and I can’t tell you how many women are like hypothyroidism, their children are hypothyroid and it’s not an autoimmune related issue. It’s usually like a nutrient deficiency issue. So when it comes to toxicity, and having excess selenium, I would say this is almost always from supplementation. But I have had clients It’s with like a couple of scenarios. One was, it was like a lot, there was a ton in her soil, and it was in her water source. So that was like, part of it. She did have methylation issues, though. So it’s like not because she no one in her house was having issues with Selenium other than her. So it’s you No, but that was definitely a part of it. The other is that I have had actually two clients that were using a Selenium base shampoo, like a medicated shampoo for dandruff. And they also had like, eczema and like, open, like wounds. It wasn’t like a wound. But you know, eczema, it’s like your skin barrier is destroyed. And so things can pass through it easier. They actually, because they were using that selenium baby shampoo for so long, they actually developed access selenium levels, because of having the open wounds on their scalp. I mean, that could definitely happen anywhere on your body, shampoo is gonna get everywhere, but I think just that concentration, and they’d like put it in and let it sit on their scalp because it made their eczema feel better. And then eventually, that led to like access levels of selenium, and some hair loss for them. So I think that was paired, obviously with the eczema on their scalp as well. But once we got that selenium out of the picture, it did actually help with the hair loss. So you can get access selenium from like random things, I would say like pay attention to like, the products that you’re using medication who’s habit, I don’t necessarily think it’s bad to use it. But if you have open wounds on your scalp, or other places in your body, then you could be absorbing a ton of selenium through those. And then obviously, like, if you live in a place with access selenium, and maybe you have like detoxification methylation issues, you may not use that selenium well. And you know, but really Prof. Primarily, it’s usually like sub access supplementation, and someone just doesn’t know that they shouldn’t get that much from a supplement, or they calculate things incorrectly. But 400 micrograms is like the max, I usually don’t go higher than like 300 with someone. I have used that for someone with Hashimotos, though, and it did really help their antibody. So work with a practitioner for supplements is like my best piece of advice so that you don’t, you know, cause more harm than good. But when it comes to like symptoms, like things you could be on the lookout for, for excess selenium, nausea and vomiting, like gi stuff is huge. So that’s something that I would definitely pay attention to hair loss is the most common one that I see, which is so hard because it’s also a symptom of a deficiency. But that’s why like lab testing is key. If someone was experiencing hair loss, and they after they started to take a Selenium supplement, it could be it’s usually that they’re not using it properly, like they’re maybe they have a methylation issue, or other nutrient deficiencies, like certain B vitamins are very important for methylation. 

Copper is very important for methylation. So if we don’t have adequate levels of other nutrients, and we may not use a Selenium correctly, we don’t tolerate it, we have hair loss. Fatigue is another big one. metallic taste in the mouth is a very common one. I had a client that I was using selenium and iodine like an iodine protocol for because he had prostate issues. And I don’t normally work with men, but he was a family member of a dear dear client of mine. And I was like, let’s I’ve read a lot of research on this, like, let’s do some experimentation. And it really helped reduce the size of his prostate, the iodine, selenium, and then we did magnesium and vitamin C x was the other cofactors along with the basics, I mean, he was on the foundations for a while but they were really helpful for him and then eventually he started to get a metallic taste in his mouth. And I was like, Okay, we got to do way less selenium, because that’s probably a toxicity issue. So metallic taste is a big foul breath. A garlicky type breath is common with excess selenium, I think metallic taste hairloss are the two common ones I see. You can get facial flushing, you can have low hemoglobin levels, and then skin depigmentation so if you’re seeing like coloration changes in your skin that can be a big red flag as well. So those are like the major signs of toxicity I would say like the best thing you care testing you can definitely see access selenium on you can test you can do plasma blood testing to see access as well. But I was I usually just do the hair testing so we’re already doing that. But yeah, usually supplements be smarter their supplements if you have high selenium checkout your soil, look at your if you’re using any shampoo, or like scalp products that have selenium because it can be very healing, but it can also like happen in access to like, oh, okay, I have the areas that have that may contain high levels of selenium. Okay, so it’s California, Colorado and Wyoming. Yeah. So I mean, that’s just something to consider if you were doing a hair test, or maybe you did bloodwork and you had access selenium, but you don’t have to like not partake in selenium rich foods because you live in those places. I talk more about like the lab testing and the different cases in the bonus episode. If you want to learn more about that, you can check it out on Patreon. Okay, so that’s like deficiency excess how it happens, we can definitely have other imbalances in other vitamins and minerals that make it hard to selenium. But I think those are way more of the root causes for most people. So let’s talk about how selenium impacts our thyroid. There’s three major ways that I think of when I think of like Selenium and thyroid. One is making and converting thyroid hormone to the active state. That’s like, I think that’s what most people know selenium for they’re like, oh, we need it to convert T four, which is inactive thyroid hormone to T three, which is active thyroid hormone, which is like definitely yes, we absolutely do. We also needed to protect the thyroid against oxidative stress, though, and I feel like people don’t talk about that enough. I’m like, it’s especially for someone that has an autoimmune condition. 

And if you have typically you have more inflammation in your body, especially if your antibodies are high, we need to make sure that we are getting adequate levels of selenium to protect our thyroid when we have autoimmune issues. And then the last one is it powers proteins that help recycle thyroid hormone, so it helps us make it and convert it helps protect the thyroid gland, and then it helps recycle thyroid hormone. And there’s three main they’re called solena proteins that are expressed in the thyroid. And they’re really what’s contributing to like, we have a very high concentration of selenium in the thyroid gland. But they’re really contributing to mostly like how your thyroid how selenium is doing those three main things. So glutathione peroxidase. Remember, I talked about that in the beginning. That’s why it’s so important for iron status as it helps protect our body from really powerful like oxidative stress and free radicals. But glutathione is actually a Selenium peroxidase is a Selenium enzyme, which means that we need selenium in order to power it, and it regulates how the body makes thyroid hormone. So it also protects the thyroid against free radicals because it is an antioxidant.

And everyone can have like an excess of free radicals in like, a lot of times our bodies will compensate for it because we have enough antioxidants present to balance it out. But as soon as we start getting nutrient deficiencies in things like Selenium, vitamin E, that’s like one of the cofactors for selenium. They work hand in hand together in the body. And it’s another really important antioxidant, vitamin C, like when we start to get deficient levels of these nutrients across the board. That’s when we can have way too much oxidative stress in the body and then we don’t we things start to break down we have a lot more symptoms of inflammation. Maybe we have something like we’re like, oh, like I see this a lot of people that have like chronic mold exposure, and they have a buildup of mycotoxins that their body cannot combat because they don’t have the antioxidant capacity because they have nutrient deficiencies. I’m going to do a mold series, hopefully with my friend Julian who’s like the I call her the mold Queen when I have like client clinical questions about mold. And I don’t know what else to turn to. Like she’s who I ask because she’s the best. As far as like practical working with people, she’s the best. So we’ll have her on and we’ll talk about mold because mold is like huge right now. But a big part of that is like this antioxidant capacity and like not having that in the body. So glutathione peroxidase powered by selenium helps protect the body from free radicals also helps protect the thyroid. It’s also if you have a selenium deficiency, one of the ways you can like assess that is looking at glutathione peroxidase levels. They decrease when a selenium deficiency is present. And there is some research there’s not anything like that. It’s causation. Like the you know, X causes Y, but there’s a lot of association between a higher TSH, which is that thyroid stimulating hormone and decreased selenium and glutathione proxies activity. So if we don’t have adequate selenium, you obviously we’re not going to be making and converting thyroid hormone. 

Many other things impact that as well like iodine first and foremost. But selenium is going to impact that. And then you can actually end up with a higher TSH because your brain is sensing that, hey, I don’t have enough thyroid hormone so it tells your pituitary to make this TSH hormone, which tells your thyroid Hey, you gotta do your job. So glutathione peroxidase is very important for protecting the thyroid. It’s powered by selenium. And it’s important for regulating how we’re using that thyroid hormone. Thyroid Dachstein reductase. If the reduction is how I heard it said before, too, is it’s an essential excellent antioxidant that also protects the thing I read from oxidative damage. So another important one for those with autoimmune conditions, especially Hashimotos. Also a selenoprotein that’s powered by selenium. And then di, di das and aces. I gotta say that again. Do Denise that’s what it is.

Okay, so I’m just going to start over at the DoD neighs. Part, I’m not going to say the third vaccine again, do Denise’s are another one very important selenoprotein powered by selenium, they actually gather iodide from iodinated tyrosine. So that’s going to be that’s inside our thyroid gland when thyroid hormone is being produced, if we if they didn’t gather this, then it would just get excreted in the urine. And we would miss out on a lot of iodine, we definitely have an iodine deficiency. And it wouldn’t recycle thyroid hormone. So this is how we recycle that thyroid hormone. That’s like the third job that I look at for selenium and thyroid is through these Dr. Denise’s, and how they recycle that iodide from the iodinated tyrosine. And I know a lot of people will take like tyrosine for thyroid health. But I’m like, if you haven’t looked at your iodine and selenium status, it might not help. It’s definitely not my go to at all with thyroid, I think it’s like overlooking a lot of other possible root causes. But I know some people will probably recognize that word and be like, Oh, I was I took a tyrosine supplement for my thyroid, we definitely want to make sure we’re looking at selenium and iodine too. So those are like the three main selenoproteins. 

That’s how that’s what’s actually powered by selenium and converting and making thyroid hormone protecting the thyroid gland, and then recycling iodine and thyroid hormone. And again, if we didn’t have enough selenium, we don’t recycle that iodine and thyroid hormone and that can also contribute to an iodine deficiency. And then finally, when it comes to selenium, and autoimmune thyroid, because of how selenium impacts our immune system, it can protect the thyroid from oxidative stress. And there are there’s lots of studies and I linked them in the show notes, which I think we’re going to start putting on my blog because I link to many studies. There low levels of selenium are common in those that have Hashimotos, or just autoimmune thyroid, it can be engraved to IC levels and graves a lot. Same thing with iodine. So it’s very common to see like selenium deficiency with Hashimotos. And remember, if we have an autoimmune condition, and we have more inflammation, oxidative stress, that’s going to impact thyroid function. So I always address gut health. For that, of course, we have to address that gut health and immune system. But another part of that is looking at nutrient deficiencies like Selenium that can impact our immune system, and impact how our Do we have enough protective antioxidants in the body to protect our thyroid gland. And there’s a lot of studies that have shown that there’s an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid disease when low levels of selenium are present. So just having a selenium deficiency can increase your risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases. So both Hashimotos and graves and there’s also been studies that show there are a lot of benefits of selenium supplementation. For those with Hashimotos. There was actually one review that I’m gonna link that showed that basically taking selenium daily for three months, it lowered their antibody levels, along with improvements that from like surveys that people did have like improve mood and general well being like they felt better, but they also had lower antibody levels. So I thought that was really cool. I wish that they would do a study on graves, because I’ll tell you what. I have seen so much success with iodine, which of course includes selenium, you can’t just take iodine without selenium and Graves disease and getting people off medication. So it’s but it’s like never the highlight. Unfortunately, I’m going to add a module to my course about it because it’s like, pretty profound. So yes, Hashimotos for sure. But I think if you have graves as well, you could also consider testing your Selenium levels, and seeing if increasing selenium are true has had an impact. In my practice, I absolutely use Selenium with those clients but it’s primarily part of an iodine protocol. Where we are we do iodine testing, we do hair testing. We work on the foundations for a very long time. Because you should never just start with iodine iodine increases your metabolism or if you have graves it can balance it out the other way, but iodine deficiency can cause hypo or hyperthyroidism so we always start with the basics first get you in a more balanced place. And then I do, I do use iodine with a lot of people if it’s appropriate, especially for Hashimotos. But you have to work on selenium status first. Because if you don’t have adequate selenium, then you’re gonna have all these other issues like typically they don’t tolerate iodine. Well, if your antibodies increased with iodine, that’s often a Selenium issue, typically, is what I see. And I do tend to use like higher doses of selenium with those people. 

But it’s truly individual. And you should be working with a practitioner, if you are wanting to do anything like that. Because you don’t want to cause more harm than good. But it’s one of those things where like selenium and iodine can have a lot of benefits, and they’re not expensive, and they’re easy to implement. Once you’ve done the foundations, and you can get like a lot of return. So I think it’s really awesome. I think, if anything in corporate and more selenium rich foods, if you have Hashimotos, or Graves is something that’s worth experimenting with and talking with your doctor about, and seeing, like, you know, is how are my antibody levels? Did this help improve them? Is there anything else I can consider experimenting with? But hair testing and iodine testing have been like imperative for those clients? So that’s the thyroid in selenium. When it comes to selenium and fertility. There’s also like quite a bit of very interesting research. It’s important for both male and female fertility and a lot of it goes back to the antioxidant power, right? If if we are thinking about like, what can impact negatively impact like male and female fertility, a lot of it’s like, how is the sperm impacted? The quality of the sperm and the egg? Right? Of course, we have to ovulate as women and have enough progesterone and everything. But even like before that step, like how is that woman’s egg quality is the egg developing properly, and so that you can actually implant and you can conceive and carry that out. A lot of it goes back to the glutathione peroxidase enzyme and how it protects our cell membranes. And of course, it supports thyroid health too, which I’ve done like a lot of I need to do a podcast on this. But I have ended like a lot of newsletters and content around miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage in thyroid because there’s a very, very big connection. And just like infertility in general, especially like secondary infertility, like you’ve already had a child, and then you’re having trouble conceiving again, I think a lot of it has to do with nutrient micronutrient deficiencies like vitamins and minerals and how that impairs thyroid function. Because you’ve already grown in birth and taking care of another baby. It’s that’s like very nutrient, very high nutrient requirement for that. 

And if you went into that deficient, which most women do, especially in things like vitamin A, iodine, things that are very important for thyroid function. When we look at what causes those reoccur, recurrent miscarriages, difficulties with conception, it’s often subclinical hypothyroidism, so it’s not like your TSH isn’t out of range, but it’s not optimal. So that’s really big. And of course, Selenium is important for thyroid function. So that’s those two, like right across right off the bat are like very important. When it comes to male fertility. There’s actually quite a bit of research around selenium deficiencies. And it has been shown in men to contribute to infertility by causing a deterioration of the quality of semen and sperm motility. And it’s pretty similar for women and their eggs. But I just thought that was really interesting. And it just shows you like, it’s so important for men and women to understand their micronutrient status. prior to pregnancy, I think women feel like a lot of it is on you, you know, I mean, I, I definitely felt that way. Like I was like, I just get need to get my health and good place and really focusing on like, Well, I wanted to feel good during pregnancy and have a good postpartum experience. But in reality, it’s like, you know, my husband’s health is also very important, just to be able to conceive in the first place. 

So it’s easy to forget that, especially if you have a health history, I think as women like I have a lot of clients that maybe they have PCOS and they’re just so focused on optimizing their health that they like, forget that it’s like, oh, wait, I should probably have my husband do a hair test or look into his labs as well and look at his diet and start optimizing that so that he’s also in a good place because that will affect sperm that will affect your ability to conceive. And there’s there was a really cool study where they use most studies that are using selenium are also using vitamin D, by the way, and there’s one that they use vitamin E and selenium and increase sperm motility, and poor sperm quality. So there’s a good amount of research on selenium. I think what goes hand in hand with that is definitely vitamin E. But just around like sperm quality and their ability to move properly. And then with female fertility, of course thyroid hormone for sure. But We can also have issues with Selenium deficiencies that lead to miscarriage, there’s definitely a big connection there. Along with just complications, when you’re already pregnant, you can have damage to the nervous and immune system of the baby if there’s a selenium deficiency. And again, that’s not to scare anyone. I think that’s with more a more severe deficiency. But it just shows you like how important it is to have adequate selenium if we do want moms to be healthy baby to be healthy. And there’s like with many nutrient deficiencies, there are studies that show that low levels of selenium are a good predictor of low birth weight in babies, but you can literally insert most nutrients and get that same result. So just having adequate nutrient status in general is obviously important for a healthy baby, their development, the placenta, what their what nourishment they’re getting during pregnancy in general, but men and women it can impact fertility in a huge way. So that’s, that’s really the big summary of selenium. There’s a lot that we still don’t know about Selenium. And there’s a lot of interest in it, which I’m happy about, especially like in the fertility field. But there’s still a lot that we don’t know. And again, like Selenium is very cool, does a lot of important things. It’s I think, if selenium was like a cofactor, we needed for iodine, we needed to use vitamin D properly. It’s a very powerful antioxidant. So like in certain circumstances, it can be helpful for certain people, but it’s not the first stop on your healing journey. And probably not the second or third either. It’s something that you would want to take a look at once you’ve already worked on like your first four minerals, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, you’re eating enough, you know, like you, you have good daily habits, all that kind of stuff, then something like optimizing selenium could help you take your health to the next level. 

Alright, let’s go through the Instagram questions. Okay, what minerals interact with Selenium, there’s a quite a few copper and zinc are two big ones. Magnesium status. There’s like some research on magnesium and selenium. We definitely need more. And then there’s quite a few B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, they can be synergistic or antagonistic. I go through this in way more detail. On the bonus episodes, I’m trying to make these deep dive shorter, because everyone’s like they’re too long. So check out the bonus episode, if you want like a detail on what is synergistic. What’s antagonistic. But the big ones that I see in practice, like copper is a huge one, like excess copper will impact your Selenium status. And then selenium can also impact a lot of other minerals as well like iron. Someone asked how to heavy metals impact selenium, they primarily increase our need for selenium. And this is another thing I go into more detail. In the book. I’ve talked about heavy metals in quite a few bonus episodes, I feel like at this point, but basically, Selenium can help in activate a heavy metal, so it prevents it from causing harm, and like binding to different receptors in the body, and creating dysfunction when we have selenium deficiencies. And other other minerals do this as well. Minerals are very important for heavy metals, a lot of people want to do like heavy metal detox. And I’m like, if you have mineral deficiencies, and you detox heavy metals, what’s going to happen when you stop that detox, you’re going to accumulate more heavy metals, because they’re in our environment, they’re naturally occurring, our bodies know how to deal with them, I think they’re more of an issue, because we have so many mineral deficiencies now. So minerals in general, they basically displace the heavy metals, they prevent them from accumulating and creating dysfunction, and different parts of the body like brain or kidneys. They can accumulate all over liver. So really heavy metals, just increase the need for selenium, increasing your Selenium is not going to help you get rid of heavy metals necessarily, it’s just going to like be more protective. Someone asks us selenium found in Irish steam OS, I had to look this up. I was like, I have no idea. And it looks like it’s not a significant source of selenium. Is there an optimal time of day to take selenium? Or is anytime? Okay, like a supplement? I mean, I would say ideally, you’re taking it with food, and you’re taking it with its cofactors. If you’re taking those as well, but you don’t have to take it like at a specific time. What are the cofactors? For selenium? Vitamin E is a huge one. I would say that’s like the biggest one. You do want to have adequate vitamin D in your diet or in supplement form, if you’re taking selenium. Why can supplementing with Selenium lead to hair loss for some? So I’ve talked about this before you could have an excess of selenium already. 

A lot of people take supplements without lab testing. And I understand because lab testing can be expensive, but you know, then people will get mad because they get a symptom. And I’m like, Well, you probably should have tested for that. But usually it could be an excess, it could be a methylation issue, because like they’re not using it properly. So it could be other neutral. During deficiency, like copper, or B vitamins or vitamin A, that is making it so you are not using the Selenium well, but it’s hard to, it’s hard to say, do Brasil nuts really provide adequate bioavailable selenium. So it’s not that they don’t provide they do provide selenium, it’s just that it can vary. I mean, think about the size of a brazil nut like that can vary in and of itself. So that’s going to affect how much selenium is in it. And then where it’s grown, the soil like, all those things are going to impact the Selenium content. And, you know, nuts do have more like phytic acid, that can bind to minerals and make you not absorb them as well. If they’re sprouted, that will help. So if you want to soak and sprout your Brazil nuts that would help it feels like a lot of work to me, I think I would rather just have organ meats, and seafood. But it can vary doesn’t mean you’re not getting it. But it’s like you, if you like we’re trying to fix a selenium deficiency. And you’re like, Okay, I need at least 100 micrograms a day, because that’s what the research shows us fixes a selenium deficiency, then, I would say like, I wouldn’t use Brazil nuts for that, honestly, because you just don’t know how much you’re getting. You could try and then if you’re not getting the results you want with your Selenium levels, try something else. But that’s just something to consider. Okay, what does a low selenium on a hair test mean? Typically deficiency, and then you just have to figure out where it’s coming from. What does a high selenium and a hair test mean? So it can be high. It could be that you just have too much selenium and your soil your water source, you could be using a medicated shampoo. I can’t tell you how many people use those and don’t realize that there’s selenium in it. That will definitely skew your results. You could I’ve had people that have like stopped using the medicated shampoo for like two weeks. But then we look at their scalp and they have like psoriasis or eczema. And because of that they absorbed like way too much selenium. So it’s just like depends. And I also see high selenium when someone has very high copper often. So that’s something to consider as well. But I go through like specific examples in the Patreon episode, if you want like a deeper dive, do high selenium foods have mercury, not all of them. I mean, a lot of pretty much all muscle meats have some selenium in them, they might not be like a super high source, but they’re going to have at least like, you know, 20 to 30 micrograms, which I think is a good amount, especially considering the RDA is 55 micrograms for men and women and then you want at least like 100 micrograms for like a deficiency for most people, but talk with your doctor and don’t just supplement. But things like like, I think of like oysters have a good amount of selenium, like sardines, like shellfish in general, they typically do and those foods can be higher in mercury and heavy metals in general. And it’s just one of those things where if you have a lot of exposure and you either have other mineral deficiencies like Selenium or magnesium or zinc then I would say maybe you want to just focus on kidney like organ meats have a lot of selenium, and then muscle meats and avoid the shellfish. But I just, you know, I think it depends on the person. 

But if we think about it, Selenium protects us from mercury. So it’s like okay, if if it is naturally occurring in those foods, then it would be like a good thing and it would be nature being like super smart. Okay, so does selenium need copper to activate processes, um, you need both copper and selenium for certain enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. But you would need like bioavailable copper. So you would need like, super low plasmon like, which is copper and vitamin A, you know, so, I would say yes, but not like every single one. Okay, dosing for pregnancy and breastfeeding and brands. So I can’t give like dosing because I would recommend a dose based on the person’s levels, how deficient they are, how much they get in their diet, what their health history is. But for someone that’s breastfeeding, the RDA goes up to 60 micrograms and then someone that’s are know someone that’s pregnant, the RDA goes up to 60 micrograms, someone that’s breastfeeding goes up to 70. So if you have a deficiency, you likely need more, but it really just depends, and I don’t have specific brands but I like solennelle my theanine is like the version that I like. There’s other selenium ones that are good, you just might not absorb as much it just kind of depends. Okay, Selenium supplement versus versona. It’s already talked about that.

What can cause high selenium on bloodwork their hair test was normal. It could be your food could be your soil could be poor methylation. It’s all the same things I would I would like look deeper at all the same like root causes, and see like what they could be for you You like to live in Colorado, California or Wyoming? I think that’s what it was. Yes. I can remember that. I can remember so many useless things. Okay, so yeah, I would look at that I would look at like other supplements you’re taking Yeah, I would look a little bit deeper. But I mean, it’s not high in your hair test. So that’s good inside the cell, but it’s like it’s higher outside the cell. Yeah, there’s so many things that I would have questions about. Oh, and like with bloodwork to like hair test is looking at the last few months with bloodwork it’s more like it’s recent. So it makes me wonder if you consumed a lot of selenium that day, and so it was high in your blood. That’s like another consideration. Okay, so that is the Selenium Deep Dive. I think I’m gonna do a wrap up episode for the season. So we’re going to have 10 episodes because I did too for iron I felt like nine episodes is like a weird note to end on. So I think I’m gonna do a wrap up with like highlights from each mineral. So let me know if you want that. I think it will be a fun way to end the season. And then next season, I’m gonna do a deep dive like focuses on like, detoxification, digestion, gut health, we’ll talk about like reflux. We’ll get into mold. I want to do a series on mental health. So lots of fun plans and interviews planned for next season, but I hope you enjoyed these mineral deep dives. And I will see you in the wrap up episode.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

Master Your Minerals

Created by
Hormone Healing RD