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What is it? Selenium is an essential mineral (see What It Is). Only trace amounts of selenium are needed and deficiency is rare in the U.S. and Canada due to selenium occurring in foods such as grains and meats, but it is more prevalent in countries with low levels of selenium in the soil (see "From Food").
What does it do? Selenium is important for proper immune and thyroid function. There is mixed evidence as to whether supplementing with selenium can help reduce the risk of cancer: It may only help those deficient in selenium, while it may be potentially harmful for others (see What It Does).
How much to take? The daily requirement for selenium is just 55 micrograms (mcg) for most adults and a bit higher for women who are pregnant or lactating. Dosage in supplements generally ranges from 100 to 200 mcg (see What to Consider When Using). The tolerable upper intake level is 400 mcg daily, above which there is increased risk of adverse effects such as as hair and nail brittleness (see Concerns and Cautions).
Best selenium supplement? As shown in the comparison graph and Results Table below, the cost to obtain 200 mcg of selenium ranged from 3 cents to $1.39. Among supplements which passed testing, we identified our Top Pick, providing a highly absorbable form of selenium at low cost.