Take selenium and drop the pounds – Can it really be that easy? Well, as you can probably already imagine, the whole thing is a bit more complicated. Nevertheless, a number of studies show that taking selenium can certainly have an influence on weight and weight loss. In some places you even read that enough selenium in the diet would increase life expectancy overall. But what is true and what is really true about the supernutrient selenium? We have taken a look around and summarized the most important things about selenium and weight here for you.
But first the basics:
What is selenium and what do we need it for?
Selenium is a chemical element and on top of that really important for our body. More precisely, it is one of the essential nutrients, which means that we have to absorb selenium through the diet in order for our body to function properly.
In the body, selenium is absorbed through the intestines and used to produce important selenoproteins. These help, for example, the cells to protect against oxidative stress. In addition, selenium plays an important role in maintaining the normal functioning of the immune system and in the production of various thyroid hormones.
Our body needs these hormones of the thyroid gland to guarantee numerous functions. In addition to others, such as the regulation of body temperature, thyroid hormones are also responsible for processes that are important for losing weight: the regulation of metabolism and appetite.
Does this establish the connection between selenium and weight? At least it sounds promising.
Let’s look at how these processes in the body can be affected by selenium.
Losing weight with selenium: The influence on weight & Co
So we now know that selenium is also needed for normal thyroid function, among other processes. If the body gets too little selenium,this can lead to the thyroid gland not producing enough hormones. One possible consequence is the slowing down of metabolism, which in turn can lead to reduced calorie consumption and weight gain. An article by Danish scientists published in a medical journal in 2012 even attests to the thyroid gland’s significant influence on weight: Even small differences in thyroid function could cause body weight to fluctuate by several kilos.
From this point of view, selenium has an influence on weight. It is particularly interesting that this influence applies in both directions. If the body absorbs too much selenium, this in turn can lead to an increase in weight.
Our selenium level thus has a great influence on the functions of the thyroid gland and thus also on the metabolism. This makes it all the more important to give the body enough selenium.
But how much selenium do you need to avoid a deficiency?
In addition to impaired thyroid function and slowed metabolism, a lack of selenium can also have a different effect. Common symptoms include:
- Susceptibleness to infection
- Joint and muscle pain
Adults should consume between 60 (female) and 70 (male) μg of selenium per day to meet the body’s need for the nutrient.
However, the need is strongly dependent on the diet and can be increased, for example, with a one-sided or vegan diet. Many foods that contain selenium are animal products. Even with certain diseases, the absorption of selenium in the intestine can be disturbed and thus the need may be increased.
If some of this applies to you and you have symptoms of selenium deficiency, you should take a blood test with your doctor to clarify your selenium levels.
Can selenium also help you lose weight?
In fact, there are studies that suggest that selenium may support weight loss on a diet.
These include, for example, a recent study from Italy from 2020. Over a period of 12 weeks, 37 adults with overweight were put on a calorie-reduced diet. Half were given 240μg of organic selenium (selenomethionine) daily as a dietary supplement, the other half a placebo. The result: The people who took selenium were able to break down more fat and at the same time receive more muscle tissue.
A large-scale study from China also came to the conclusion that selenium can have an influence on weight & Co. The dietary habits of more than 3000 study participants were examined. A connection between body mass index (BMI) and selenium intake could be established: People who consumed less selenium through the diet usually had a higher BMI than people with more selenium intake.
Although not all questions about selenium and the influence on weight have yet been clarified by science, these studies at least suggest that a sufficient supply of selenium can help with weight loss.
However, the keyword “sufficient” is particularly important here. Although we need selenium to live, the substance has a toxic effect if the dosage is too high and can cause unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhea or nausea.
As is so often the case, it all comes down to the right balance.
How to use the influence of selenium on weight
So we now know that selenium is extremely important for a functioning thyroid gland on the one hand and an overdose of the nutrient is harmful on the other. In order to give our body everything it needs so that it can regulate metabolism and weight, the goal should be: The need for selenium must be met.
If you want to lose weight, this is all the more important because you can take advantage of the influence of selenium on weight.
Ideally, this is done by reducing the calories consumed through food while ensuring that your body gets all the important nutrients it needs.
If this is not possible via the diet, because you live vegan, have intolerances, or simply do not want to change your diet, dietary supplements are an excellent alternative.
Lose weight with selenium: These selenium foods make the pounds tumble
If you are planning a diet and want to guarantee a sufficient intake of selenium, the right foods must land on the plate. Finally, there is a list of the best selenium foods for losing weight, including pros and cons.
Particularly suitable are nutrient-rich, healthy and low-calorie products such as:
- Brazil nuts (~50-100μg selenium per nut)
Pro:Brazil nuts are absolute selenium bombs.
Cons: If you eat too many Brazil nuts, there is a risk of overdose with selenium. In addition, pollutants often accumulate in the nuts. So the recommendation is: No more than 1-2 nuts per day.
- Yellowfin tuna (~90μg selenium per serving)
Pro:Tuna is healthy, tasty and rich in selenium.
Cons:Unfortunately, the tuna and species protection is always such a thing. The World Conservation Organization, for example, lists yellowfin tuna as “almost endangered” in its list of endangered animal species. If you use tuna, you should definitely make sure that it comes from sustainable fisheries.
- Halibut (~50μg selenium per serving)
Pro:Like the tuna, halibut is delicious and healthy.
Cons: The contra-point is also similar to the tuna. In contrast to this, however, halibut is currently even considered “highly endangered”.
- Beef liver (~30μg selenium per serving)
Pro:Liver is one of the healthiest and most nutrient-dense meats.
Cons: Liver is unfortunately not for everyone and unsuitable for vegetarian or vegan people
- Eggs (~15μg selenium per egg)
Pro:Eggs are rich in nutrients and can be prepared in a thousand different ways.
Cons:On the one hand, eggs are not vegan, on the other hand, they are relatively high in calories and therefore only in moderation suitable for a diet.
- Vegetables such as lentils, broccoli, asparagus or cabbage
Pro: Low in calories, healthy and delicious – perfect for losing weight!
Cons:The selenium content in vegetables always depends on the respective soil and can therefore vary greatly. Since the soils in Central Europe are not among the most selenium-rich, it can be quite difficult to cover the selenium requirement with only vegetables.