Last update Aug. 6, 2017


Low Risk

Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.

Essential trace element necessary for the functioning of the glutathione-peroxidase enzyme system that protects cellular structures from oxidative damage.

It is obtained from foods such as vegetables, cereals, legumes, garlic, fish, seafood, eggs and meat. The amount of selenium in these sources depends on the concentration of selenium in the soil. The brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is the food with the highest known concentrations of selenium.

Selenium deficiency is very rare. With a staple diet it is not necessary to take selenium supplements in the absence of disease or a condition that may warrant it: parenteral nutrition, Crohn's disease, prematurity (MedlinePlus 2017).

Taking too much selenium can cause selenosis, a condition that causes dermatological symptoms (alopecia, nail dystrophy), digestive symptoms, neurological symptoms and fatigue (MedlinePlus 2017).
Nutritional supplements containing excessive amounts of selenium have resulted in severe poisoning (Aldosary 2012, Senthilkumaran 2012).
The potential effects of selenium on cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, and heavy metal poisoning and toxins are not proven, so supplementation of selenium other than from normal diet is not recommended (MedlinePlus 2017).

The daily needs of selenium for breastfeeding mothers are 70-75 micrograms (mcg) daily. In infants it is 2 to 3 mcg/kg (10 mcg/day during the first 4 months) with a maximum of 30 mcg/day (MedlinePlus 2017, Kipp 2015).

Selenium is found naturally in milk in its organic form of selenomethionine (Dorea 2002).

The amount of selenium in colostrum is 80 mcg per litre and in mature milk 12-20 mcg/L, with no or very weak correlation with plasma selenium levels or daily intake of selenium (Wasowicz 2001, Bianchi 1999, Artaud 1993, Cummings 1992, Levander 1987, Higashi 1983).

However, there are authors who find that selenium supplements for breastfeeding mothers increase selenium levels in milk and infants may exceed their daily needs for selenium. (Dorea 2002, Trafikowska 1996).

Better plasma levels of selenium have been found in breastfed infants than in formula-fed infants (Strambi 2004, Sorvacheva 1996). There are lower plasma levels of selenium in babies born small for their gestational age (Strambi 2004).

See below the information of this related product:

  • Brazil Nut (Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)


We do not have alternatives for Selenium.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Selenium is also known as

Selenium in other languages or writings:


Selenium belongs to this group or family:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Selenium in its composition:


  1. Keikha M, Shayan-Moghadam R, Bahreynian M, Kelishadi R. Nutritional supplements and mother's milk composition: a systematic review of interventional studies. Int Breastfeed J. 2021 Jan 4;16(1):1. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. MedlinePlus. Selenio en la dieta. MedlinePlus suplementos. 2017 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  3. MedlinePlus. Selenium in diet. MedlinePlus Supplements. 2017 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  4. Kipp AP, Strohm D, Brigelius-Flohé R, Schomburg L, Bechthold A, Leschik-Bonnet E, Heseker H; German Nutrition Society (DGE).. Revised reference values for selenium intake. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Abstract
  5. Aldosary BM, Sutter ME, Schwartz M, Morgan BW. Case series of selenium toxicity from a nutritional supplement. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Abstract
  6. Senthilkumaran S, Balamurugan N, Vohra R, Thirumalaikolundusubramanian P. Paradise nut paradox: alopecia due to selenosis from a nutritional therapy. Int J Trichology. 2012 Abstract
  7. EFSA. European Food Safety Authority. Tolerable upper intake levels for vitamins and minerals. Scientific Committee on Food. 2006 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  8. Strambi M, Longini M, Vezzosi P, Berni S, Buoni S. Selenium status, birth weight, and breast-feeding: pattern in the first month. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2004 Abstract
  9. Dorea JG. Selenium and breast-feeding. Br J Nutr. 2002 Abstract
  10. Wasowicz W, Gromadzinska J, Szram K, Rydzynski K, Cieslak J, Pietrzak Z. Selenium, zinc, and copper concentrations in the blood and milk of lactating women. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2001 Abstract
  11. Bianchi ML, Cruz A, Zanetti MA, Dorea JG. Dietary intake of selenium and its concentration in breast milk. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1999 Abstract
  12. Trafikowska U, Zachara BA, Wiacek M, Sobkowiak E, Czerwionka-Szaflarska M. Selenium supply and glutathione peroxidase activity in breastfed Polish infants. Acta Paediatr. 1996 Abstract
  13. Sorvacheva TN, Shagova MI, Kurkova VI, Kon' IIa. [Selenium status of healthy children under 1 year of age dependent on the type of feeding]. Vopr Pitan. 1996 Abstract
  14. Arnaud J, Prual A, Preziosi P, Favier A, Hercberg S. Selenium determination in human milk in Niger: influence of maternal status. J Trace Elem Electrolytes Health Dis. 1993 Abstract
  15. Cumming FJ, Fardy JJ, Woodward DR. Selenium and human lactation in Australia: milk and blood selenium levels in lactating women, and selenium intakes of their breast-fed infants. Acta Paediatr. 1992 Abstract
  16. Levander OA, Moser PB, Morris VC. Dietary selenium intake and selenium concentrations of plasma, erythrocytes, and breast milk in pregnant and postpartum lactating and nonlactating women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Abstract
  17. Higashi A, Tamari H, Kuroki Y, Matsuda I. Longitudinal changes in selenium content of breast milk. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1983 Abstract

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