Current Knowledge on the Importance of Selenium in Food for Living Organisms: A Review

Molecules. 2016 May 10;21(5):609. doi: 10.3390/molecules21050609.


Selenium is one of the elements classified within the group of micronutrients which are necessary in trace amounts for the proper functioning of organisms. Selenium participates in the protection of cells against excess H₂O₂, in heavy metal detoxification, and regulation of the immune and reproductive systems as well. It also ensures the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Selenium induces the occurrence of the selenoprotein synthesis process involved in the antioxidant defense mechanism of the organism. Recent years have brought much success in the studies on selenium. Anticarcinogenic properties of selenium against some cancers have been reported. Supplementation is increasingly becoming a solution to this problem. A large number of different supplementation methods are promoting studies in this area. Slight differences in the selenium content can result in excess or deficiency, therefore supplementation has to be done carefully and cautiously.

Keywords: cancer; food; nutrition; selenium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use
  • Selenium / administration & dosage*
  • Selenium / adverse effects
  • Selenium Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Selenium Compounds / adverse effects
  • Selenoproteins / metabolism
  • Soil / chemistry*


  • Micronutrients
  • Selenium Compounds
  • Selenoproteins
  • Soil
  • Selenium