Selenium Overdose

Selenium is a mineral that is essential for normal cellular functioning. It should be taken within the recommended dosage because taking too much of Selenium can cause overdose symptoms [1].

What is Selenium?

Selenium is a mineral that occurs naturally and is abundantly found in nuts, vegetables, grains and meat. This mineral is essential in the production of more than 20 selenoproteins that plays a critical role in DNA synthesis, metabolism of thyroid hormones and human reproduction.


The amount of selenium obtained in a diverse diet is usually enough for the needs of the body and there is no need for supplementation. Deficiency in selenium is associated with male infertility and can worsen iodine deficiency in individuals [1, 2].

How much is Selenium Overdose?

The recommended daily dose for selenium is 55µg/dL for those who are 14 years and older. The upper tolerable limit is found to be at 400µg/dL. Taking selenium any more than this can cause symptoms associated with overdose. In 2008, there was a selenium liquid supplement produced.

It contains 200 times the normal recommended dose. This caused an outbreak in selenium toxicity. Over 200 people were affected and one was even hospitalized due to the symptoms they exhibited [1, 2, 3].

What are Selenium Overdose symptoms?

The symptoms manifested by individuals who were affected by the outbreak of selenium overdose include diarrhea, fatigue, hair loss, joint pain discoloration and brittleness of nails and nausea. Hair loss, fatigue and discoloration of nails have persisted for 90 days after the toxicity have occurred.

Other symptoms may include the presence of garlic odor in the breath, metallic taste in the mouth, skin rashes, mottled teeth and some abnormalities in the nervous system [1, 2, 3].

What is Selenium Overdose treatment?

The main focus for the treatment for the overdose of selenium is to manage the presenting symptoms. There is no established cure for the toxicity but the first step is to stop ingesting food or supplements that has high selenium levels.

Selenium is eliminated naturally from the body but it may take several weeks before this compound is excreted from the body. During this period, the serum selenium level should be monitored regularly and supportive care be provided to the patients [4, 5].

How to prevent Selenium Overdose?

The best way to prevent selenium toxicity is to avoid taking in selenium supplements. This mineral should be obtained from a diverse diet in order to keep the serum level within the normal range.

Before a supplements should be taken, it must be consulted with a physician. Supplements, especially those that has high levels of selenium, should not be taken without the physician’s consent to avoid events like that of the outbreak in 2008 from happening again [4, 5].

Selenium overdose is very dangerous and everyone should be aware of the supplements that they take. Feel free to share more information about selenium toxicity in the comments.


  1. MacFarquhar, J., Broussard, D., & Maelstrom, P. (2010). Acute Selenium Toxicity Associated With a Dietary Supplement. Journal of the American Medical Association, 256-261.
  2. National Institutes of Health. (2016, February 11). Selenium. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health:
  3. Faheem, M. S. (2014, January). Selenium Side effects – Selenium overdose – Too much selenium. Retrieved from
  4. Earth Clinic. (2013, May 13). Selenium Poisoning Remedies. Retrieved from Earth Clinic:
  5. Virginia Department of Health. (2011, July 30). Selenium FAQs. Retrieved from Virginia Department of Health:

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