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Selenium in Nigerian Foods: Where to Find and Benefits

Last Updated on November 20, 2023


Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining human health.

It acts as an antioxidant, helps regulate thyroid function, and supports the immune system.

In this blog post, we will explore the presence of selenium in Nigerian foods, where to find it, and the benefits it provides.

By the end of this post, you will have a comprehensive understanding of selenium’s importance in our diets and the best food sources for obtaining it in Nigeria.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in the body.

As an antioxidant, selenium helps protect against oxidative stress and damage to cells.

Furthermore, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, as it helps support proper immune function.

Where to Find Selenium?

  1. Brazil Nuts: Just one Brazil nut can provide more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of selenium.

  2. Fish and Shellfish: Tuna, sardines, shrimp, and crab are all good sources of selenium.

  3. Meat: Poultry, including chicken and turkey, as well as beef and pork, contain selenium.

  4. Whole Grains: Foods like wheat, oats, and brown rice are rich in selenium.

  5. Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt also provide a good amount of selenium.

  6. Eggs: Consuming eggs is another way to incorporate selenium into your diet.

The Benefits of Selenium

  1. Antioxidant Protection: Selenium helps neutralize harmful free radicals and protect against chronic diseases.

  2. Improved Immune Function: Selenium plays a crucial role in the immune response, aiding in the defense against infections.

  3. Thyroid Health: Selenium is necessary for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism.

  4. Cardiovascular Support: Selenium helps reduce inflammation and protects against heart disease and stroke.

  5. Cognitive Function: Adequate selenium levels may contribute to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of cognitive decline.

  6. Cancer Prevention: Selenium has been linked to a lower risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer.

  7. Reproductive Health: Selenium is important for both male and female fertility and has been associated with improved sperm quality.

  8. Healthy Hair and Skin: Selenium supports the production of antioxidants that promote vibrant hair and youthful-looking skin.

Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant and supports a healthy immune system.

It can be found in various foods, including Brazil nuts, fish, meat, whole grains, dairy products, and eggs.

Adding selenium-rich foods to your diet can provide numerous benefits, such as antioxidant protection, improved immune function, and support for thyroid health.

Furthermore, selenium may contribute to cardiovascular health, cognitive function, cancer prevention, reproductive health, and healthy hair and skin.

By incorporating selenium-rich foods into your meals, you can enhance your overall well-being and promote optimal health.

Read: Iron-Packed Foods in Nigeria: Preventing Anemia Naturally

Sources of Selenium in Nigerian Foods

Various food sources rich in selenium

  1. Beans: One of the popular food sources rich in selenium in Nigeria is beans. It is a staple food that is easy to find and prepare.

  2. Seafood: Nigerian coastal regions offer a variety of seafood options such as fish, crabs, and prawns, which are excellent sources of selenium.

  3. Sunflower Seeds: These tiny seeds are not only delicious but also packed with selenium, making them a healthy addition to Nigerian meals.

  4. Meat: Poultry, beef, and lamb are commonly consumed in Nigeria and are good sources of selenium.

  5. Eggs: Including eggs in your diet can provide you with a significant amount of selenium. They are versatile and can be incorporated into various dishes.

  6. Whole Grains: Foods like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread contain selenium and are essential for a balanced diet.

  7. Garlic: A staple ingredient in Nigerian cuisine, garlic not only adds flavor but also contains selenium that can benefit overall health.

  8. Mushrooms: Incorporating different types of mushrooms into your meals can boost your selenium intake and offer various health benefits.

  9. Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is not only rich in iron but also contains selenium, making it a nutritional powerhouse.

  10. Nuts and Seeds: Snacking on snacks like almonds, cashews, and flaxseeds can supply your body with selenium and other essential nutrients.

Traditional Nigerian foods that are good sources of selenium

  1. Fufu: Made from yam, cassava, or plantains, fufu is a staple food in Nigeria that contains trace amounts of selenium.

  2. Egusi Soup: This traditional Nigerian soup made from melon seeds is not only delicious but also provides a good source of selenium.

  3. Oha Soup: Oha leaves, a key ingredient in this soup, contain selenium and offer a delightful way to boost your intake.

  4. Efo Riro: This vegetable soup cooked with assorted meats and fish is a popular Nigerian delicacy that contains selenium.

  5. Moi Moi: This savory steamed bean pudding is not only rich in protein but also contains a fair amount of selenium.

  6. Ogbono Soup: Made from African mango seeds, this soup is not just tasty but also a good source of selenium.

Including these foods in your diet can help ensure adequate selenium intake, which is vital for maintaining good health.

Selenium plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system, promoting thyroid health, and acting as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage.

So, make sure to incorporate these selenium-rich foods into your meals for optimal nutrition.

Read: Boosting Health: Where to Find Calcium in Nigerian Foods

Selenium in Nigerian Foods: Where to Find and Benefits

Benefits of Selenium in Nigerian Foods

Thyroid Function Enhancement

Selenium, prevalent in Nigerian foods like beans and seafood, plays a pivotal role in supporting optimal thyroid function.

This essential mineral aids in the production of thyroid hormones, crucial for regulating metabolism and maintaining energy levels.

Immune System Boost

Nigeria’s rich agricultural produce, including whole grains and nuts, provides an abundance of selenium that fortifies the immune system.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant, safeguarding cells from oxidative stress and bolstering immune response against infections and diseases.

Reproductive Health Support

Incorporating selenium-rich foods like eggs and poultry into one’s diet contributes significantly to reproductive health.

Selenium aids in sperm formation in men and supports overall fertility in both men and women.

Its presence in Nigerian foods underscores its role in promoting healthy reproduction.

Anticancer Properties

Recent studies suggest that selenium, found abundantly in Nigerian staples such as brown rice and wheat germ, may possess potential anticancer effects.

Its antioxidative properties combat cell damage and help prevent the development of certain cancers, although more research is needed to confirm these effects definitively.

Selenium, obtained from various Nigerian food sources, exerts multifaceted benefits.

Its influence on thyroid function, immune system resilience, reproductive health, and potential in cancer prevention underscores its significance in maintaining overall well-being.

As you explore the diverse array of Nigerian cuisine, remember to incorporate selenium-rich foods like seafood, whole grains, nuts, and eggs into your diet.

Doing so not only adds delicious variety to meals but also ensures a consistent intake of this vital mineral, reaping its numerous health advantages.

Read: Unlocking Health: Minerals in Traditional Nigerian Dishes

Recommended Intake and Potential Risks

Recommended Daily Intake of Selenium

Understanding the recommended intake of selenium is crucial for optimal health.

In Nigeria, the suggested daily allowance for selenium varies according to age and gender.

Generally, adults should aim for around 55 micrograms per day.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women might require slightly higher amounts, typically up to 60 to 70 micrograms daily.

Potential Risks of Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency poses significant health risks. In Nigeria, where soil conditions influence selenium content in crops, deficiencies are plausible.

Inadequate selenium intake may lead to health issues such as weakened immune function, thyroid disorders, and fertility problems.

To avoid such risks, incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet is essential.

Dangers of Excessive Selenium Intake

While selenium is beneficial in appropriate amounts, excessive intake can result in selenium toxicity or selenosis.

Consuming selenium in quantities surpassing the recommended levels, often over 400 micrograms per day, can lead to adverse effects.

Symptoms of selenium toxicity include nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, and even neurological issues.

Nigerians need to be cautious about overconsumption, especially through supplements or highly concentrated sources.

It’s vital to strike a balance and not surpass the upper limit to prevent adverse health effects.

Finding a middle ground between deficiency and excess is key.

Incorporating selenium-rich foods into your diet, such as fish, eggs, whole grains, and nuts, ensures a balanced intake.

Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional or nutritionist can provide personalized guidance on maintaining optimal selenium levels.

In a nutshell, being aware of the recommended daily intake, risks of deficiency, and dangers of excess selenium consumption is imperative.

Strive to maintain a balanced diet, incorporating selenium-containing foods, while being mindful not to exceed the recommended limits.

This approach promotes overall well-being and mitigates the potential risks associated with selenium intake.

Read: Best Nigerian Foods for Meeting Your Daily Mineral Needs


This blog post highlighted the importance of including selenium-rich foods in our diet.

Selenium plays a vital role in maintaining good health and protecting against various diseases.

Nigerian foods such as seafood, meats, grains, and nuts are excellent sources of selenium.

By incorporating these foods into our meals, we can ensure an adequate intake of this essential mineral.

Including selenium-rich foods in our diet is crucial for our overall well-being.

Selenium helps to boost our immune system, supports thyroid function, and acts as a powerful antioxidant.

It plays a vital role in preventing chronic illnesses like heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Ensuring a sufficient selenium intake can greatly contribute to our overall health and well-being.

We encourage readers to explore the diversity of Nigerian cuisine and try out different selenium-rich foods.

From traditional dishes like jollof rice and egusi soup to snacks like plantain chips and groundnut cakes, there are numerous options to choose from.

By incorporating these delicious and nutrient-rich foods into our daily meals, we can enjoy the benefits of selenium while experiencing the flavors of Nigerian cuisine.

Incorporating selenium-rich Nigerian foods into our diet can be a simple and enjoyable way to improve our health.

So why not give it a try? Start by adding a few selenium-rich ingredients to your next meal and gradually expand your repertoire.

Your body will thank you for it as you reap the many benefits of this essential mineral.

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