Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How to Get Enough Selenium from Nigerian Foods

Last Updated on November 20, 2023


Selenium is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining good health.

It is necessary for various bodily functions, including immune system support, thyroid function regulation, and antioxidant protection.

Without sufficient selenium intake, individuals may be at risk for various health issues.

The purpose of this blog post is to provide valuable insights on how to obtain enough selenium from Nigerian foods.

We will explore the significance of incorporating selenium-rich foods into our diet and highlight the benefits it offers for overall well-being.

By understanding the importance of selenium and the local food sources that contain it, readers can make informed choices to optimize their daily intake and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Through this comprehensive guide, we will explore a range of Nigerian foods that are excellent sources of selenium, along with tips on how to incorporate them into our meals effectively.

From delicious seafood options like crayfish and fish to nutrient-packed plant-based choices such as mushrooms and cashews, we will uncover various delectable options to meet our selenium requirements.

By the end of this blog post, readers will have a solid understanding of selenium’s significance in their diet and how they can obtain enough of it from Nigerian foods.

With the right knowledge and food choices, everyone can achieve optimal selenium intake and reap its numerous health benefits.

Overview of selenium

What selenium is and its role in the body

Selenium is a trace mineral that plays essential roles in the body’s metabolism and antioxidant defense system.

It is necessary for the functioning of enzymes involved in thyroid hormone production and the regulation of the immune system.

The recommended daily intake of selenium

The recommended daily intake of selenium for adults is 55 micrograms (mcg), but this may vary depending on age, gender, and specific health conditions.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have slightly higher requirements.

To ensure you get enough selenium from Nigerian foods, here are some options you can consider:

  1. Brazil Nuts: These nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium. Just two brazil nuts can provide over 100 mcg of selenium, surpassing the daily recommended intake.

  2. Seafood: Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of selenium. Tuna, salmon, sardines, and shrimp all contain significant amounts of this mineral.

  3. Whole Grains: Foods like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread provide selenium and other important nutrients. Include these grains in your diet to increase selenium intake.

  4. Beans and Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are not only rich in fiber and plant-based protein but also contain selenium.

  5. Meat and Poultry: Chicken, beef, and turkey are good sources of selenium. However, it’s important to choose lean cuts and consume them in moderation.

  6. Dairy Products: Milk, yogurt, and cheese can contribute to your selenium intake. Opt for low-fat options to avoid excessive saturated fats.

  7. Fruits and Vegetables: While these plant-based foods are not particularly high in selenium, they still provide smaller amounts. Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals for overall health benefits.

  8. Nigerian Traditional Foods: Traditional Nigerian dishes like egusi soup, ogbono soup, and ewedu soup often contain selenium-rich ingredients such as melon seeds and leafy greens. Including these dishes in your diet can boost your selenium intake.

  9. Selenium Supplements: If you struggle to meet the recommended daily intake through food alone, you may consider selenium supplements after consulting with a healthcare professional.

  10. Cooking Methods: Remember that excessive cooking, boiling, or processing can reduce the selenium content in foods. Opt for cooking methods that retain more nutrients, such as steaming or baking.

In short, selenium is crucial for maintaining proper bodily functions, and getting enough from Nigerian foods is achievable with careful food choices.

Incorporating selenium-rich options like brazil nuts, seafood, whole grains, beans, and legumes, as well as traditional Nigerian dishes, can help you meet the recommended daily intake.

Remember to maintain a balanced diet and consult with a healthcare professional if you have specific concerns about your selenium levels.

Read: Zinc in Nigerian Diet: Boosting Reproductive & Immune Health

Selenium-rich Nigerian foods

Nigeria is known for its diverse range of foods that are naturally rich in selenium.

This essential mineral plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being.

Including selenium-rich foods in our diet can help us meet our daily requirements.

Here are some examples of Nigerian foods that are high in selenium:

1. Fish

  1. Mackerel: This oily fish is not only delicious but also a great source of selenium, providing approximately 64 micrograms per 100 grams.

  2. Tuna: Another popular fish in Nigeria, tuna contains around 39 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams.

2. Meat

  1. Beef: Lean cuts of beef, such as sirloin or tenderloin, are not only packed with protein but also contain selenium, with about 34 micrograms per 100 grams.

  2. Chicken: A versatile meat option, chicken contains approximately 32 micrograms of selenium per 100 grams.

3. Eggs

Chicken Eggs: Eggs are a nutrient powerhouse and a source of various essential minerals, including selenium. One large chicken egg contains approximately 15 micrograms of selenium.

4. Grains

  1. Brown Rice: Unlike white rice, brown rice is a whole grain that retains the outer bran layer, which is rich in selenium. It contains approximately 19 micrograms per cooked cup.

  2. Oats: A popular breakfast choice, oats provide around 13 micrograms of selenium per cooked cup.

5. Nuts

  1. Brazil Nuts: These large nuts have one of the highest selenium contents among all foods. Just one brazil nut can provide around 68-91 micrograms of selenium.

  2. Cashews: Cashews contain approximately 7 micrograms of selenium per ounce, making them a healthy and tasty snack option.

6. Vegetables

  1. Spinach: This leafy green vegetable not only provides a variety of vitamins and minerals but also contains selenium, with about 3 micrograms per cooked cup.

  2. Mushrooms: Mushrooms, such as shiitake or portobello, are a delicious addition to your meals and contain approximately 8 micrograms of selenium per cup.

Including a variety of these selenium-rich foods in your diet can help you meet your daily selenium needs.

However, it’s important to note that the selenium content in these foods can vary depending on factors such as soil quality and farming practices.

Also, consuming them in moderation as part of a balanced diet is key. It’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.

In essence, Nigerian foods offer a wealth of options to meet your selenium requirements.

From fish and meat to eggs, grains, nuts, and vegetables, incorporating these nutrient-rich foods into your meals can help you maintain optimal selenium levels and support your overall health.

Read: Magnesium Sources: From Nigerian Soil to Table

Incorporating selenium-rich foods in the diet

Incorporating selenium-rich foods in the diet is essential for maintaining optimal health and preventing selenium deficiency.

In this section, we will provide practical tips on how to include selenium-rich Nigerian foods in your daily meals.

Additionally, we will suggest delicious recipes that utilize these foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

  1. Include grains like brown rice and oats, which are excellent sources of selenium.

  2. Add selenium-rich legumes such as black-eyed peas, lentils, and chickpeas to your meals.

  3. Include selenium-rich vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts in your diet.

  4. Incorporate selenium-rich fruits such as bananas, oranges, and avocados into your daily meals.

  5. Include selenium-rich nuts and seeds, including Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds, in your diet.

  6. Include protein sources like eggs, fish, and poultry, which are also rich in selenium.

Tips for Including Selenium-Rich Nigerian Foods

  1. When preparing meals, opt for whole grains like brown rice instead of refined grains.

  2. Try incorporating legumes like black-eyed peas into traditional Nigerian dishes like akara or moin moin.

  3. Add selenium-rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli to your soups, stews, and stir-fries.

  4. Make a delicious salad with selenium-rich fruits like oranges, avocados, and bananas.

  5. Use Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, or flaxseeds as toppings for your salads or yogurt.

  6. Substitute regular eggs with selenium-enriched eggs, which are available in some markets.

  7. Include fish like mackerel or salmon in your meals for an additional selenium boost.

Delicious Recipes Incorporating Selenium-Rich Foods


  1. Start your day with a selenium-rich breakfast smoothie made with spinach, oranges, bananas, and flaxseeds.

  2. Enjoy a Nigerian-style breakfast with akara made from black-eyed peas, served with sliced avocados on the side.


  1. Prepare a delicious selenium-rich salad by combining spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and grilled chicken or fish.

  2. Try a traditional Nigerian dish like fried rice, incorporating selenium-rich vegetables like Brussels sprouts.


  1. Cook a hearty stew with black-eyed peas, lentils, and vegetables like spinach and carrots to get a selenium-packed dinner.

  2. Enjoy a flavorful grilled fish or chicken dish served with a side of brown rice and steamed broccoli.


  1. Make a trail mix using Brazil nuts, dried fruits, and sunflower seeds for a selenium-rich snack option.

  2. Enjoy a homemade avocado dip with sliced cucumbers or carrot sticks as a healthy and selenium-rich snack.

Incorporating selenium-rich Nigerian foods into your daily meals can be simple and delicious.

By following these practical tips and trying out the suggested recipes, you can ensure that you are getting enough selenium to support your overall health and well-being.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalized advice.

Read: Vitamin A in Nigerian Foods: For Eyesight & Immune System

How to Get Enough Selenium from Nigerian Foods

Enhancing selenium absorption

Factors that can enhance the absorption of selenium from food

When it comes to getting enough selenium from Nigerian foods, there are certain factors that can enhance the absorption of this essential mineral from your diet.

By paying attention to these factors and incorporating them into your daily meals, you can ensure optimal selenium intake and reap its numerous health benefits.

The importance of pairing selenium-rich foods with other nutrients or ingredients for better absorption

Firstly, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of pairing selenium-rich foods with other nutrients or ingredients that can enhance its absorption.

Selenium is known to interact with various compounds, both positively and negatively, which can affect its bioavailability.

For instance, consuming selenium-rich foods with vitamin C sources can significantly increase selenium absorption.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that not only boosts the immune system but also acts as a reducing agent, converting oxidized forms of selenium back to their reduced state.

This process promotes the absorption of selenium into the body, making it more readily available for various biological functions.

Additionally, consuming selenium-rich foods alongside foods high in sulfur-containing amino acids can also enhance its absorption.

Sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine and methionine, have been shown to form stable complexes with selenium, increasing its stability and bioavailability.

Specific examples such as consuming selenium-rich foods with vitamin C sources

Some examples of selenium-rich foods that can be paired with other ingredients for better absorption include:

  1. Brazil nuts: These nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium. Pairing them with a glass of orange juice can provide a significant boost of vitamin C for enhanced absorption.

  2. Sardines: These small fish are not only rich in selenium but also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming them with garlic, which is high in sulfur compounds, can maximize the absorption of both selenium and omega-3s.

  3. Eggs are a versatile and nutritious food that also contains selenium. Enjoying them alongside foods like onions or cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts, can enhance selenium absorption.

Incorporating these pairings into your meals can be as simple as adding a squeeze of lemon juice to a salad containing selenium-rich ingredients or including garlic and onions in a stir-fry with selenium-rich seafood.

Furthermore, factors such as cooking methods and food processing can also influence selenium absorption.

While some cooking methods, such as boiling or steaming, can cause selenium loss, others, like roasting or grilling, can help retain selenium content.

It is important to be mindful of these factors when preparing selenium-rich foods to maximize their nutritional benefits.

In short, getting enough selenium from Nigerian foods can be enhanced by considering various factors that affect its absorption.

Pairing selenium-rich foods with vitamin C sources, sulfur-containing amino acids, and incorporating proper cooking methods can significantly increase selenium bioavailability.

By paying attention to these details, you can ensure optimal selenium intake and support your overall health and well-being.

Read: The Role of Calcium in Traditional Nigerian Dishes

Avoiding Selenium Deficiency or Excess

Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in our overall health. It is necessary for the proper functioning of our immune system, thyroid gland, and DNA synthesis.

However, like most nutrients, selenium needs to be consumed in adequate amounts to avoid deficiency or excess.

The Risks of Selenium Deficiency and Excess in the Diet

Selenium deficiency can lead to various health issues, including weakened immune function, reduced fertility, and increased risk of certain cancers.

On the other hand, excessive selenium intake can also have detrimental effects on our health.

  1. Development of selenosis: Consuming too much selenium can lead to a condition called selenosis, characterized by symptoms like hair loss, gastrointestinal disturbances, and even nerve damage.

  2. Inhibition of thyroid function: Excessive selenium intake can interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, leading to thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

  3. Increased risk of diabetes: Studies have suggested a potential link between high selenium levels and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Recommendations to Maintain a Balanced Selenium Intake

While it’s important to avoid selenium deficiency, it’s equally crucial to prevent excessive intake. Here are some recommendations to maintain a balanced selenium intake:

  1. Include selenium-rich foods in your diet: Nigerian foods such as almonds, walnuts, seafood, eggs, poultry, and whole grains are excellent sources of selenium.

  2. Eat a variety of foods: Consuming a diverse range of fruits and vegetables ensures you receive a spectrum of essential nutrients, including selenium.

  3. Be mindful of portion sizes: Although selenium is essential, it is best to consume it in moderation. Avoid overindulging in foods that are exceptionally high in selenium.

Potential Side Effects of Excessive Selenium Consumption

While it’s important to understand the risks associated with excessive selenium intake, it’s crucial to note that these risks usually occur when consumed in extremely high amounts.

  1. GI distress: Consuming excessive amounts of selenium can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

  2. Garlic breath odor: In some cases, excessive selenium intake can result in a garlic-like odor on the breath.

  3. Brittle hair and nails: High levels of selenium can lead to brittle hair, hair loss, and weak, brittle nails.

In fact, maintaining a balanced selenium intake is vital for optimal health.

By incorporating selenium-rich foods into our diets and being mindful of portion sizes, we can avoid both selenium deficiency and excess, ensuring our overall well-being.


Selenium plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.

To recap, we have discussed various Nigerian foods that are rich in selenium, such as fish, poultry, and whole grains.

It is important to incorporate these selenium-rich foods into your diet to reap their optimal health benefits.

By making simple changes in your meal planning, you can ensure you are getting enough selenium from Nigerian foods.

Remember, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, thyroid function, and DNA synthesis.

So, start adding delicious and nutritious Nigerian dishes to your daily meals to boost your selenium intake and promote optimal health!

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