If you’re interested in clear skin, then selenium is a nutrient which you cannot ignore.
Selenium is one of the 15 minerals which are essential in the diet. It has numerous roles in the human body, but its main one for acne is manufacturing the key homemade antioxidant in humans – glutathione. Selenium joins forces with zinc and magnesium to make this vital compound, and by doing so achieves the following: stronger skin against free radicals, a healthier skin tone, and less acne full-stop.
One classic study gave a daily selenium supplement to acne patients, and after 8 weeks, their total acne fell by 40%. So important is selenium that another study examined the blood selenium levels of both acne-covered women and clear-skinned women, and found that the acne-covered women had 22% lower levels.
For your skin to reach its full potential, you have to get enough selenium, one way or another. The benefits don’t end there: glutathione is important for energy, mental function, and vision.
Therefore, here are the top 7 selenium supplements on the market today.
Remember to avoid overdosing on selenium – it isn’t a suitable nutrient for megadosing like vitamin C is. You should consume no more than 400mcg of selenium per day. For a shortcut, Pure Encapsulations is the best brand here.
Let’s get started:
One – NutraBio
Firstly, NutraBio contains very few ingredients: just selenium, vegetable cellulose and the harmless filler rice flour. Secondly, NutraBio contains 200mcg of selenium per capsule, with a 120 capsule bottle. It’s only necessary to take 100mcg daily, so with NutraBio, you have a supply of nearly 8 months.
Finally, the selenium is in an optimally absorbed form: selenium glycinate chelate. This consists of selenium bound to molecules of the protein glycine, a dietary amino acid which helps selenium to be absorbed as well. Selenium glycinate has a high bioavailability, and additionally, glycine has bonus benefits. Among the dozens of amino acids, it’s the most important (alongside cysteine) for making glutathione, so the glycine in NutraBio will compliment the powers of selenium.
NutraBio also succeeds by being free from allergens like soy, corn and wheat. It’s made in the USA and its ingredients are independently tested in a laboratory to ensure potency.
NutraBio isn’t a selenium brand you’ll discover instantly when searching for the internet, but it’s perfect in every way.
Amazon link: NutraBio Selenium.
Two – Pure Encapsulations
Their selenium is free from any harmful ingredients, consisting of selenium, ascorbyl palmitate (a form of vitamin C), hypoallergenic plant fiber, and the vegetable capsule. Pure Encapsulations contains another well absorbed selenium form – selenomethionine. Similarly to glycinate, this consists of selenium molecules bound to molecules of the amino acid methionine.
Most importantly, studies have revealed this form to be particularly bioavailable. Methionine is so important that the human body absorbs it very easily, and because selenium is so intertwined with methionine in the compound’s structure, the selenium gets absorbed right with it. In humans, the absorption rate of selenomethionine is 90%, according to some studies.
There are two supplemental versions, the superior L and the inferior D forms; Pure Encapsulations contains L-selenomethionine. The dosage is typical, 200mcg per easy-to-swallow capsule. You receive 180 capsules, so if you take one every two days, you’re 5 days short of a full year’s supply.
There’s dozens of dedicated selenium supplements sold on amazon and in supermarkets, but Pure Encapsulations is among the five best.
Amazon link: Pure Encapsulations Selenium (Selenomethionine).
Three – Food To Live Brazil nuts
You only have to eat two of these nuts daily to meet your requirements, and that’s why they’re the ultimate natural option, with multiple side benefits. Two Brazil nuts weighing a combined 10 grams in total contain 191.8mcg of selenium, equating to 274% of the RDI.
Studies have even examined them directly: one found that consuming two Brazil nuts daily increased blood selenium levels by 59% after 8 weeks, matching a dedicated supplement easily.
To achieve this, there’s no better choice than Food To Live. You receive a 1 pound bag which will last for months, for an affordable price. The nuts are organic and high quality, unlike poorer brands where the nuts are improperly stored and arrive rancid.
With Brazil nuts, you’ll also enjoy bonus acne benefits, including reduced inflammation. There’s two safety points to remember: firstly, stick to the consumption limits, like with supplements. Eating more than 5 Brazil nuts daily will lead to overdose territory. Secondly, that would also be a negative for acne, since Brazil nuts are high in omega 6 fatty acids.
For a convenient pill, NutraBio is the ultimate choice. For natural diehards, you cannot beat Food To Live Brazil nuts.
Amazon link: Food to Live Organic Brazil Nuts.
Four – Thorne Research
Thorne Research is another top quality supplement brand – if you’re in need of lysine or magnesium their products are among the best. Their selenium product is typically pure and potent.
Each capsule contains 200mcg, with the bottle containing 60 capsules. Halve the doage and you have a 4 month supply. The additives are minimal and harmless, being microcrystalline cellulose and hypromellose. The supplement comes in capsules, rather than tablets, measuring 0.563 inches long and easy to swallow.
Meanwhile, the selenium itself is the well-absorbed L-selenomethionine. The one form of selenium you should always avoid is selenium selenite, a synthetic version which for some reason is widely used in pet foods. Unlike the organic forms listed here, selenite is inorganic, and consequently, it’s poorly absorbed in the human body. Selenium selenite even has pro-oxidant effects when taken in high amounts.
Be careful, because some supplements listed as an organic form like methionine might actually contain 50% or 20% selenite too. Luckily, Thorne Research isn’t one of them.
Thorne Research is similar to Pure Encapsulations, ticking all the boxes for a natural selenium supplement.
Amazon link: Thorne Research Selenomethionine.
Five – Nature’s Way
Nature’s Way is a particularly affordable product, providing 200 capsules with a standard 200mcg dosage for a particularly low price. The supplement is free from any dodgy additives: the safe rice flour and gelatin are the only extra ingredients. Gelatin is an animal product, so buy Pure Encapsulations or Thorne Research if you’re a vegan.
According to reviewers, Nature’s Way has the advantage of a fairly small capsule. What’s the best strategy for supplementation? For selenium, we actually have studies with week by week results. Acne fell after 4 weeks, and even 1 week, but the biggest benefits didn’t materialise until after 8 weeks.
Since everybody’s circumstances are different, you may notice no improvement in the first week, and that’s why you should always be patient with selenium. 8 weeks is ideal, and that’s a good rule for minerals in general, like magnesium.
The final benefit of Nature’s Way is its total lack of any common allergens like corn, soy, or wheat. There’s no magnesium stearate in Nature’s Way and the same is true for every other product here.
Nature’s Way is excellent for a cheap selenium product which sacrifices no quality at all.
Amazon link: Nature’s Way Selenium.
Six – Farm Fresh Brazil nuts
An interesting fact about Brazil nuts is that despite occurring naturally in their namesake country, most are actually harvested in Bolivia. Another secret is that Brazil nuts are really seeds, and the most pertinent fun fact for supplement enthusiasts is that unlike almonds, Brazil nuts are rarely farmed agriculturally. Workers venture into the cool, damp jungles to harvest them from wild trees, and importantly, this causes serious supply issues.
It’s common for brands like Food To Live to vanish from amazon, only to mysteriously reappear. That’s why having a backup Brazil nut supply is vital for all selenium users, and Farm Fresh fits the bill.
This bag contains 1 pound of Brazil nuts, equalling Food To Live. Farm Fresh is indeed fresh, with reviewers reporting in with rancid nuts only rarely. The nuts are also raw and unsalted, as natural as it gets, minus the hard outer shell (which even local monkeys struggle to open).
These Brazil nuts are picked in Bolivia and stored in airtight packaging while being shipped overseas. Your instructions for getting selenium are identical to Food To Live’s: eat 1 or 2 nuts daily.
Farm Fresh Brazil nuts are a near identical alternative to Food To Live, for a purely natural selenium supplement.
Amazon link: Farm Fresh Raw Brazil Nuts.
Seven – Swanson Premium
The final selenium supplement which ascends into the elite top 5 selenium brands is Swanson Premium. Its advantage is a lack of the common additive magnesium stearate, an anti-adhesive which is designed to prevent the powder from sticking to factory machinery, but can also decrease nutrient absorption in the gut slightly. Magnesium stearate is only a minor threat, but worth avoiding if possible.
Secondly, Swanson Premium is in the superbly absorbed L-selenomethionine form. The dosage is 100mcg, half the usual amount, but you also receive 300 capsules per bottle. The price is also highly affordable. As for the additives, there’s very few: just rice flour and gelatin.
Swanson Premium selenium has no particular gimmick, but ticks all the boxes. It’s only slight flaw is not being vegan, because of the gelatin capsule, but for everybody else it’s perfect. NutraBio is your friend if animal ingredients are forbidden.
Swanson Premium is superior to the vast majority of selenium products on the market today.
Amazon link: Swanson Selenium (L-Selenomethionine).
Top food sources of selenium
If you decide to reinforce your selenium supplement with a strong food intake, rather than the moderate food intake you’ll automatically achieve without thinking, here are the best healthy sources:
Free range eggs – a very easy way to eat more selenium. According to one analysis, each medium sized free range egg contains 13.9 mcg of selenium, close to 20% of the recommended daily intake. Remember to eat the yolk, the most nutritious part of the egg. Other acne benefits: a strong source of vitamin A and carotenoid antioxidants.
Salmon – among the best seafood for selenium. 100 grams of wild caught, Alaskan sockeye salmon contains 29.9mcg, or 43% of the RDI. Speaking of which, wild caught Alaskan salmon is the ultimate form: it’s much lower in oemga 6s and higher in natural antioxidants like astaxanthin, compared to the farm grown salmon flooding supermarket shelves. Other acne benefits: extremely rich in omega 3s and therefore strongly anti-inflammatory.
Whole meats – a sirloin steak, a lamb leg steak, turkey or a pork chop are all strong sources of selenium. The key is to buy a well-produced form, because processed meats or CAFO produced meats are less nutritious and full of inflammatory substances.
Crab – an even better seafood source than salmon. 100 grams of cooked crab contains 44.4mcg of selenium, or 63% of the daily allowance.
Pistachios – destroyed by Brazil nuts, but still a respectable source. Pistachios contain 7.0mcg of selenium or 10% of the RDI per 100 grams. Other acne benefits: an excellent source of magnesium. Pistachios should be eaten in moderation, since they’re fairly high in omega 6s and lectins. With a proper strategy, they can be a secret weapon against acne.
Sunflower seeds are also a dense source, but they were proven to cause acne in one study.
You now have five dedicated supplements for selenium, and two choices for Brazil nuts, for an all natural option.
Selenium deficiency is much less common compared to magnesium or even zinc, but vegans and vegetarians may need more, since the mineral is concentrated in animal foods. Central states of the USA lack selenium in their soil as well, so watch out if you live there.
A form we haven’t discussed yet is selenium enriched yeast. Essentially, scientists take inorganic selenium selenite, and ferment it with active yeast. Some selenium becomes bound to proteins within the yeast and transforms into predominantly selenomethionine (60% to 80%), but also small amounts of selenocysteine. The problem is that there’s no advantage over Brazil nuts or dedicated supplements, and a portion of the selenium selenite may remain unchanged and inorganic.
If you require a selenium supplement, your way forward is now clear.
Thanks for reading!