How Foods Rich In Selenium Affect Your Hair Health

selenium rich foods

Selenium is a mineral and trace element that has many benefits for our health and hair. Working together with vitamin E, it helps to prevent oxidative damage in our bodies and promote hair growth. So eating foods rich in selenium will help ensure you don’t become deficient. Here we list the top ten selenium foods:

Selenium Rich Foods

The top foods rich in selenium are as follows:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Spinach

How Selenium-Rich Foods Prevent Hair Loss

Eating enough selenium-rich food is important to keep a good amount of the vital mineral in the body. As it is an effective antioxidant, selenium fights free radicals. These are not only harmful to our overall health but can also inhibit hair growth by weakening and killing hair follicles.

Selenium is vital for the proper functioning of the thyroid and this organ also regulates hair growth – if it’s out of balance, you may start experiencing hair loss and weight loss.

Selenium is also frequently used in anti-dandruff shampoos as it fights the flaky scalp imbalance by killing off fungus. Dandruff or fungus on the scalp can cause hair loss with itching, which makes us scratch the itch and pull the hair out of its follicles.

selenium foods
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium.

Why Selenium is so Beneficial for Our Overall Health

As stated above, selenium collaborates with vitamin E to prevent oxidative stress in the body. That means damage to the body’s cells caused by free radicals. Selenium can also help prevent heart disease.

Selenium also works synergistically with iodine to keep our thyroids healthy. It does this by producing a hormone called T3, which is critical to control our metabolism and maintain thyroid health.

Too Much Selenium Could be Toxic

Although selenium deficiency could lead to different types of diseases and pain, there have also been cases where selenium supplements have contained hundreds of times higher doses than what the labels state. This could therefore lead to selenium toxicity, which can cause hair loss, nausea, fatigue and diarrhea. Along with eating selenium rich foods, you can consider taking a supplement containing many different vitamins and minerals meant to work synergistically to aid your hair health.

What are the benefits of selenium for you and for your hair growth?

As written in a previous post, selenium is a mineral found naturally in the soil. But it also appears in certain foods and there are even small amounts in water.
It is an important mineral for the human body as it helps immunity. It plays a roll in antioxidant activity that defends against free radical damage. But it will also help you maintain a healthy metabolism. According to some studies, selenium can also help you reduce the risk of cancer and thyroid diseases.

But how does selenium benefit your body?

Simple – selenium is able to play such a protective role in the body because it increases antioxidant capabilities and the quality of blood flow. This increases the body’s resistance against stress and diseases.

And then there is the food…

Food that has a high amount of selenium include Brazil nuts, eggs, liver, tuna, cod, and sunflower seeds. Poultry and certain types of meat are a good source as well. However, whole foods are the best sources of the mineral, especially those who are not cooked on a very high heat.

How does selenium benefit your hair and hair growth?

The mineral has an ability to fight the aging process and help the immune system by reducing free radical damage. It also has a synergistic effect with other antioxidants like Vitamin E, enabling the body to fight oxidative stress. Selenium is an essential component of glutathione peroxidase, which is an important enzyme for processes that protect lipids in cell membranes. So explained in a much easier way: you need selenium to fight oxidative degradation of cells.


It also helps to maintain proper thyroid function, which benefits the immune system and fosters healthy hair growth. Research shows that there is a link between thyroid metabolism and selenium deficiency. The mineral acts like a catalyst for the production of active thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland controls a lot of important everyday body functions. Having problems with it can result in some negative symptoms.


Which means that if you lack the mineral, it is a problem correlated with your thyroid and how it synthesizes hormones. Therefore you might consider taking supplements that include selenium to help support hair related issues caused by thyroid problems. The mineral acts as a protector of the thyroid and regulates the production of reactive oxygen within the gland, which means it is making sure the thyroid function is working properly to support hair health and growth.

To supplement or not – that is the question. If the supplements are selenium-rich the answer is yes. Not only is it beneficial for your body but also for your hair.

What about the blood flow…?

Selenium-rich foods and supplements can also support blood flow which is beneficial for hair health. A healthy hair regime starts with good blood flow and maintained with the support of natural supplements.

Photos: Mattza and Hatici Sosyal via Flickr.

How Foods Rich in Selenium can Strengthen Hair

Nutrafols supplements contain the ingredient selenium and on the ingredient page, the following is written about selenium and selenium foods;
“Selenium produces antioxidant enzymes that can defend against damage to cells, including those in hair follicles. It also helps to maintain proper thyroid function, which benefits the immune system and fosters healthy hair growth.”
So, with that being said, here follows a description on a need to know basis about this mineral.

Basic description of selenium

Selenium is one of many important dietary minerals, and we require a small amount of selenium in our diet.

Selenium contains a small cluster of important proteins. Each of these play a critical role in your health. Scientists named these selenium-containing proteins selenoproteins.

Good selenium nutrition is important for antioxidant protection and for other health reasons as well. The selenium amount a plant contains relates to the selenium content of the soil in which the plants is grown. Selenium content of soils can vary widely, however, poor soil content of selenium is not typically a factor in the average U.S. diet.

Sources of selenium

Fish, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, whole grains, and nuts and seeds are either good, very good, or excellent food sources of selenium.


Selenium and antioxidant protection

Selenium is necessary for your body and especially important for the proper activity of a group of enzymes called glutathione peroxidases. (You will sometimes see the abbreviation “GPO” or “GPx” for a glutathione peroxidase enzyme.) These enzymes play an important role in your body’s detoxification system and they also protect it against oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is physiological circumstance in which there is excessive risk of oxygen-related damage to the body.) Of the eight known glutathione peroxidase enzymes, five of them require selenium.
In addition to the activity of glutathione peroxidase, the enzymes that contain selenium, are involved in recycling of vitamin C, which allows an antioxidant protection.

Selenium and thyroid function

A selenium-containing enzyme is responsible for transforming a less active thyroid hormone called T4 into the more active T3.

So, how does this work you may wonder? Simple – selenium and iodine work together to keep thyroid function strong and consistent.
Researchers have been able to notice problems with the thyroid gland in just two months when keeping a low-selenium diet.

selenium rich foods
Of all the nutty nuts, the brazil nut is an exceptional selenium source.

Selenium foods to keep in mind

If you have read about selenium foods, you have probably read about Brazil nuts being a strong source of the mineral. Just as little as one ounce of Brazil nuts may contain as much as 10 times the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) recommendation for selenium intake. Other exceptionally rich selenium foods include oysters, clams, liver, and kidney. Each of these foods is likely to contain double to triple the DRI in a serving.
Fish and shellfish are an excellent source of selenium. Whole grains and seeds, are as well a good selenium source. Include at least one of these selenium foods in your everyday diet to maintain a healthy hair regime.

Photos: Charlotta Wasteson and Mauro Cateb via Flickr.