This sulfur-like mineral (pronounced suh-LEE-nee-um) is an antioxidant that apparently helps to prevent cancer and hypertension. (In areas of the United States and Canada where selenium is scarce in the soil, cancer and stroke rates are higher.) Selenium also helps to regulate the action of thyroid hormones.
Good sources of selenium include whole-grain cereals, organ meats, chicken, egg yolks, seafood, milk, and garlic. (Selenium is often added to antioxidant vitamin supplements, too.) In places where the soil is rich in selenium, many plants contain higher than average amounts of the mineral.
Selenium overdose can trigger a toxic reaction, selenosis, marked by hair loss and fingernail and toenail damage.
Your Daily Allowance
Diet Power sets your Personal Daily Allowance (PDA) of selenium at the Food and Nutrition Board's (FNB's) Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is specified in micrograms. The RDA for people 14* and older is 55 micrograms. For pregnant women it is 60 micrograms; for lactating mothers, 70 micrograms.
In April 2000 the FNB established the first Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for selenium. For everyone 14* or older it's 400 micrograms per day. Getting more than the UL may harm your health.
* Please remember that Diet Power is not designed for people under 15.
Revising Your Allowance
Diet Power automatically sets your Personal Daily Allowance of selenium when you enroll in the program, but if your doctor recommends a different allowance, you can change it. See Personal Daily Allowances, Editing Your.
Color Coding of This Nutrient
The selenium bar in your personal Nutrient History is:
· blue for "good" if you've logged 100 to 150 percent of your PDA
· red for "bad" if you've logged less than 100 percent of your PDA or more than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
· yellow for "caution" if you've logged more than 150 percent of your PDA
· missing if you've logged no selenium.
In the nutrient profile of a food or recipe, the selenium bar is:
· green for "good" if getting your entire PDA of calories from this item would give you more than 150 percent of your PDA of selenium
· magenta for "bad" if getting all your calories from the item would give you less than 50 percent of your PDA of selenium
· blue for "neutral" otherwise
· missing if the amount of selenium is either zero or (when the word Selenium is grayed out) unknown.
How Complete Are Diet Power's Selenium Readings?
For the 8500 generic items in the Food Dictionary: not terribly complete. About 35 percent list their selenium content as "unknown."
For the 2500 chain-restaurant items: totally incomplete. All list selenium as "unknown."
For all 11,000 items combined: not terribly complete. About 48 percent list selenium as "unknown."
These figures mean that your Nutrient History will almost always underreport your intake of selenium, unless you log mostly foods with selenium readings that you've added to the dictionary yourself.
To see whether a particular food has a selenium reading, open the Food Dictionary and check the food's nutrient profile. If you find a question mark beside "Selenium," it means the amount is unknown. (To see all foods with unknown selenium readings, click the dictionary's PowerFoods tab and sort the foods by selenium power; then scroll toward the bottom of the list until you see foods with question marks in the "Power Rating" column.)
Selenium on Food Labels
Food labels are not required to report selenium content, but some do voluntarily. They may cite the content in micrograms, percent of Daily Value, or both.
The Daily Value for selenium is 70 micrograms. This isn't necessarily right for you, however¾it's a rough estimate meant to cover most of the U.S. population. (Remember, too, that the Daily Value does not yet reflect the new RDA announced in April 2000. See above.)
For more on label regulations, see Labels, Food.