Selenium is a trace mineral used by the body to regulate thyroid function, and it is an essential mineral for good health, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, or ODS. A healthy thyroid gland assists in weight management by controlling the release of hormones that affect how fat, protein and carbohydrates are used in the body. Additionally, selenium acts as an antioxidant for controlling free radicals within the body, which are substances that may contribute to the development of diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Selenium is only needed in small quantities, so in most cases, you can get the amount you need each day by eating foods rich in selenium. The recommended daily amount of selenium healthy adults should be consuming is 55 micrograms, according to the ODS.
Make a list of foods you typically eat on a regular basis. Most people in the U.S. can get an adequate amount of selenium in their diet through food, so it's important to ensure that you're eating the types of food rich in selenium. Some examples of selenium-rich foods include tuna, beef, spaghetti, cod, whole wheat bread, eggs and turkey. If your diet consists of leafy greens, meats and whole wheat products, you will most likely not need selenium supplementation, according to the ODS.
Take a selenium supplement if you do not eat a steady diet of selenium-rich foods, or if you have certain types of gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn's disease, where selenium is not easily absorbed by the body. Proper levels of selenium in the body will help you lose weight because the mineral helps to support thyroid function. Have a physician recommend supplementation since too much selenium can be harmful to your health, including being a contributing factor to weight gain.
Avoid eating dried Brazil nuts because they contain potentially harmful amounts of selenium when grown in selenium-rich soils. According to the ODS, one ounce of Brazil nuts can contain 544 micrograms of selenium, which is 780 percent of the recommended daily amount. Consuming this much selenium can lead to weight gain as well as other health problems, such as heart disease.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Getting the recommended amount of selenium in your diet each day will not help you lose weight alone, but adding diet and exercise to the equation can help lead to significant weight loss. The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, recommends eating a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats—this type of healthy diet includes the recommended amount of selenium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends that adults get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate physical activity each week along with two days of resistance training, such as weight lifting.
The amount of selenium found in food is dependent upon how much selenium is found in the soil where the food was grown. China and Russia tend to have low selenium minerals in the soil, so selenium deficiencies tend to be higher in these parts of the world.
Never take selenium supplements without first consulting your doctor; too much selenium can be harmful to your health.