Selenium is an important antioxidant mineral, and it has numerous health benefits.
Unfortunately, close to a billion people around the world have an insufficient intake of this mineral (1).
This article provides a list of the top 20 foods high in selenium.
For reference, the current recommended daily intake for adults is 55 mcg, and all values are for the food in its raw state.
1) Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts offer more selenium than any other food.
It is worth noting that since they are so high in the mineral, selenium toxicity can develop from the overconsumption of Brazil nuts.
As a result, it is probably wise to keep daily consumption to one or two nuts if eating them regularly.
A one-ounce (28 g) serving of brazil nuts provides 767% of the RDI.
|Brazil Nuts||Per oz (28 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||537 mcg||1917 mcg|
|% RDI:||767 %||2739 %|
Most shellfish offers a substantial source of selenium, and oysters are the very best provider.
As well as offering large amounts of selenium, oysters are one of the best sources of zinc.
They are also very rich in copper, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
A 6-oyster (84 g) serving supplies 76% of the RDI for selenium (4).
Oysters are one of the best seafood choices for our health, and overall they are hard to beat for nutrient density.
|Oysters||Per 6 oyster (84 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||53.5 mcg||63.7 mcg|
|% RDI:||76 %||91 %|
If shellfish are the most nutrient-dense type of seafood, organ meats are arguably the most nutritious food from the land.
Among these organ meat varieties, liver is a significant source of essential nutrients.
This food is extremely high in B vitamins, copper, vitamins A and D, and many other vitamins and minerals.
Liver is also very selenium-rich, and a 4-ounce (113 g) serving of lamb liver contains around 133% of the RDI (5).
|Beef Liver||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||44.4 mcg||39.7 mcg|
|% RDI:||64 %||57 %|
|Chicken Liver||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||61.2 mcg||54.6 mcg|
|% RDI:||88 %||78 %|
|Lamb Liver||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||93.1 mcg||82.4 mcg|
|% RDI:||133 %||118 %|
|Pork Liver||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||59.6 mcg||52.7 mcg|
|% RDI:||85 %||75 %|
4) Tuna (Yellowfin)
All species of tuna contain large amounts of selenium, but yellowfin is the most significant source.
Per 6 oz (170 g) serving, yellowfin tuna supplies 90% of the RDI for selenium (6).
In addition to its nutrient profile, yellowfin tuna is also an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
|Yellowfin||Per 6 oz (170 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||61.8 mcg||36.5 mcg|
|% RDI:||90 %||52 %|
If oysters are the best shellfish source of selenium, then mussels are not far behind.
Mussels provide an abundant supply of selenium, with six medium-sized mussels offering 60% of the RDI (7).
Mussels are also a great source of manganese and vitamin B12.
|Mussels||Per 6 mussel (96 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||43.2 mcg||44.8 mcg|
|% RDI:||60 %||64 %|
6) Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are nutrient-dense and contain a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals.
These seeds are full of selenium too, and an ounce (28-gram) serving supplies more than 21% of the RDI (8).
Sunflower seeds have a mild nutty flavor, and they can work well in a range of different dishes.
|Sunflower Seeds||Per ounce (28 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||14.8 mcg||53 mcg|
|% RDI:||21 %||76 %|
7) Salmon (Sockeye)
Salmon is a healthy and nutritious type of fish.
However, there are numerous different species of salmon, and some offer more than others.
For the very best source of selenium, red sockeye salmon offers the most concentrated supply.
A six-ounce (170 g) serving of this fish gives us approximately 72% of the RDI for the mineral (9).
Like other types of oily fish, sockeye salmon is also very rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
|Sockeye Salmon||Per 6 oz (170 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||50.4 mcg||29.9 mcg|
|% RDI:||72 %||43 %|
While octopus isn’t a common food in much of the Western world, it provides an assortment of nutrients in high concentrations.
Notably, these nutrients include a large amount of selenium equivalent to 108% of the RDI per six-ounce (170 g) serving (10).
The iron, vitamin B12, omega-3, and protein content are all further benefits of octopus.
|Octopus||Per 6 oz (170 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||76.2 mcg||44.8 mcg|
|% RDI:||108 %||64 %|
These nutritious little fish are packed with selenium, and a three-ounce (85 g) serving offers 44% of the RDI (11).
Since (salted) anchovies are the whole fish, they still contain small but edible bones, which makes them a great source of calcium too.
Anchovies are intensely flavorful, which often splits opinion on them.
However, they work well as a flavor-enhancer, and they are particularly effective in soups and stews.
|Anchovies||Per 3 oz (85 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||31 mcg||36.5 mcg|
|% RDI:||44 %||52 %|
Kidneys are the best organ meats for helping to meet selenium requirements.
For example, just a four-ounce serving of pork kidney contains 304% of selenium’s RDI (12).
Similar to other organ meats like liver, kidney is also extremely nutrient-dense, and it offers substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals.
In the same fashion as regular meat, kidney also offers a good serving of dietary protein.
|Beef Kidney||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||159 mcg||141 mcg|
|% RDI:||228 %||201 %|
|Lamb Kidney||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||143 mcg||127 mcg|
|% RDI:||205 %||181 %|
|Pork Kidney||Per 4 oz (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||212.8 mcg||190 mcg|
|% RDI:||304 %||271 %|
Cuttlefish is a marine mollusk that shares a resemblance (and belongs to the same family) to squid.
The taste of this seafood falls somewhere between squid and octopus, and it is a good source of protein and micronutrients.
Cuttlefish also provides more than 54% of the RDI for selenium per three-ounce (85 g) serving (13).
|Cuttlefish||Per three-ounce (113 g) Serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||38.1 mcg||44.8 mcg|
|% RDI:||54 %||64 %|
Lobster is popular as a fine-dining option around the world, and it is also fairly nutritious.
For instance, lobsters are very rich in protein, B vitamins, copper, zinc, and selenium, and a northern lobster offer 89% of the RDI for the latter (14).
|Lobster||Per northern lobster||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||62.1 mcg||41.4 mcg|
|% RDI:||89 %||59 %|
13) Pasta (Whole Wheat)
Surprisingly, whole wheat pasta makes it into this list dominated by seafood, organ meat, nuts, and seeds.
Wheat is naturally a source of selenium, and whole wheat pasta offers 59% of the RDI per 2 oz (57-gram) serving (15).
However, bear in mind that the vast majority of pasta products are ultra-processed and do not contain notable amounts of nutrients.
Aside from the selenium content, whole wheat pasta is primarily a source of manganese and carbohydrate.
|Whole Wheat Pasta||Per 2 oz (57 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||41.6 mcg||73 mcg|
|% RDI:||59 %||104 %|
Whelk is a collective name for a variety of different sea snail species, and this seafood offers a good source of many nutrients.
Regarding its selenium content, whelk provides 109% of the RDI per 3-ounce (85-gram) serving (16).
However, this is far from all that whelk offers, and it is also a significant source of protein, copper, and vitamin B12.
|Whelk||Per 3 oz (85 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||76.2 mcg||89.6 mcg|
|% RDI:||109 %||128 %|
15) Pork Chop
Pork chops are one of the most popular cuts of pork.
On the positive side, pork chops also contain a wide-ranging mix of nutrients.
Among these nutrients, one pork chop offers a decent supply of selenium, providing around 96% of the RDI (17).
|Pork Chop||Per pork chop||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||67.3 mcg||33.8 mcg|
|% RDI:||96 %||48 %|
Mackerel is one of the healthiest foods we can eat, and it is full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and a broad range of nutrients.
This oily fish also offers a good amount of selenium, containing approximately 71% of the RDI per fillet (18).
Additionally, mackerel contains significant concentrations of vitamins B12 and D.
However, be aware that there are several species of mackerel and the Atlantic species is the only version considered to be low in mercury (19).
|Mackerel||Per 112 g fillet||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||49.4 mcg||44.1 mcg|
|% RDI:||71 %||63 %|
Liverwurst is an extremely nutrient-dense liver sausage, and it is a great way of incorporating organ meats into one’s diet.
This sausage product includes ingredients such as liver and meat (often veal), fat, herbs, and spices.
Since it contains liver, liverwurst is full of beneficial nutrients.
This liver sausage also offers an excellent supply of selenium, with a three-ounce (85-gram) serving providing around 69% of the RDI (20).
|Liverwurst||Per 3 oz (85 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||48.6 mcg||58 mcg|
|% RDI:||69 %||83 %|
Swordfish is one of the more nutritious seafood options, and this fish offers good amounts of protein, omega-3, and essential nutrients.
Among these nutrients, the selenium content of swordfish stands at 116% of the RDI per 6 oz (170-gram) portion (21).
On the downside, swordfish has one of the highest levels of mercury contamination.
On this note, official advice suggests limiting swordfish consumption to no more than once per month (22).
|Swordfish||Per 6 oz (170 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||81.8 mcg||48.1 mcg|
|% RDI:||116 %||69 %|
19) Chia Seeds
All seeds contain selenium, but some more than others. Chia seeds offer one of the highest amounts.
Per ounce (28-gram) serving, chia seeds supply 29% of the RDI (23).
In addition to their selenium content, chia seeds also provide plant-based ALA omega-3 fatty acids and a wide range of minerals.
Chia seeds can turn liquids into having a jelly-like texture, and many people like to use them in things like smoothies and milk to make “chia pudding.”
|Chia Seeds||Per oz (28 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||15.7 mcg||55.2 mcg|
|% RDI:||29 %||100 %|
Shrimp is another kind of shellfish that provides a rich source of selenium; a 3-oz (28-gram) serving offers 46% of the RDI (24).
Aside from selenium, shrimp offers a diverse range of nutrients, and its vitamin B12, protein, and omega-3 fatty acid content are particularly notable.
|Shrimp||Per 3-oz (85 g) serving||Per 100 g|
|Selenium:||32.3 mcg||38 mcg|
|% RDI:||46 %||54 %|
Highest Sources of Selenium Per 100 Grams
For convenience, here is the overall ranking of these foods in order of their selenium content per 100 grams.
|Rank||Food||Selenium % RDI|
|1.||Brazil Nuts||2739 %|
|2.||Pork Kidney||271 %|
|4.||Lamb Liver||118 %|
|5.||Whole Wheat Bread||104 %|
|6.||Chia Seeds||100 %|
|9.||Sunflower Seeds||76 %|
|17.||Tuna (Yellowfin)||52 %|
|19.||Pork Chop||48 %|
|20.||Salmon (Sockeye)||43 %|
For a full review of every essential vitamins and mineral, see this guide here.
The source for the data in this article is the USDA’s Food Composite Database.