Selenium - your friend for immunity

We all want to be at our best but it can be hard to know if we’re hitting all of the right nutrients that our body requires to function properly. We’ve been chatting lots about immunity lately and selenium plays a role in ensuring that our immune response is as quick and effective as possible [1]. The great thing about this micronutrient that our body can’t do without, is that it’s exceptionally easy to munch as all you need is one brazil nut a day [2], and there’s also decent amounts of selenium in seafood.

Selenium is also a powerful antioxidant and other than impacting immunity it has far reaching benefits on our bodies 'including the central nervous system, the male reproductive biology, the endocrine system, muscle function, the cardiovascular system’ [3,4].

It’s not common to have selenium deficiency but ‘suboptimal selenium status has been found in people throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East’ [5]. Considering all we need is one brazil nut a day to avoid these ‘suboptimal’ levels and ensure our immune system is in tip top condition, it seems too easy to snack on one, add it to a trail mix or use it to top our breakfast.

As brazil nuts are so darn high in selenium you only want to eat one a day so you don’t get too much, however, getting nutrients from nuts is fantastic as they come packaged with loads of other great healthy elements. These include ‘unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, micronutrients, vitamins, and phytochemicals’ [6] which provide a complete and healthy snack. To top it all off, munching this nut has been shown to tackle the world's number one biggest killer - cardiovascular disease [7], by significantly reducing bad cholesterol (LDL-c) [8]. We’ll be discussing more about preventing cardiovascular disease in the coming weeks so stay tuned.


1] Hoffmann, P.R. and Berry, M.J., 2008. The influence of selenium on immune responses. Molecular nutrition & food research, 52(11), pp.1273-1280.

2] Sunde RA. Selenium. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:225-37

3] Roman M., Jitaru P., Barbante C. Selenium biochemistry and its role for human health. Metallomics. 2014;6:25–54. doi: 10.1039/C3MT00185G. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

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6] Yang, J., 2009. Brazil nuts and associated health benefits: A review. LWT-Food Science and Technology, 42(10), pp.1573-1580.

7] World Health Organization (WHO). Cardiovascular diseases. 2015. [Cited in 2016 Apr 10]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en.

8] Colpo E, Vilanova CD, Brenner Reetz LG, Medeiros Frescura Duarte MM, Farias IL, Irineu Muller E, et al. A single consumption of high amounts of the Brazil nuts improves lipid profile of healthy volunteers. J Nutr Metab. 2013;2013:653185.