What Is Selenium and How Does It Improve Gut Health?

Delve into the role of selenium in improving gut health. Next Health explains its benefits and how to incorporate it into your diet. Contact us today.

What Is Selenium and How Does It Improve Gut Health?
Next Health Staff
December 6, 2023

Our bodies rely on a complex arrangement of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients to not only survive but thrive. This delicate balance often requires small amounts of trace minerals like selenium, which plays an important role in several bodily processes, including your digestive system.

Selenium may improve gut health if you take it in supplement form or when it’s prioritized in food sources. Today, let’s take a closer look at selenium and explore all the benefits it may bring to your health. We’ll also go over how it can improve gut health and why you should avoid selenium deficiency at all costs.

What Is Selenium?

Selenium is one of the most important nutrients for bodily health. In fact, it plays a key role in various bodily systems, including thyroid hormone metabolism, infection protection, DNA synthesis, and more. Luckily, your body normally stores plenty of selenium across various tissues, such as skeletal muscles.

But perhaps because selenium is such a trace mineral, scientists aren’t fully sure why it’s so crucial for human health or just how many systems it plays a role in. Regardless, it’s recommended that adults get the right amount of selenium to avoid deficiency: about 55 µg of selenium per day. Pregnant or lactating women should get between 60 and 70 µg of selenium per day, as well.

Meanwhile, people who are deficient in selenium may experience several negative symptoms, including nausea or vomiting, headaches, seizures, and more. Selenium deficiency is very rare, but it is associated with chronic conditions such as Keshan disease and Kashin-Beck disease. In general, selenium deficiency only appears in areas where the mineral’s soil or water content has historically been very low.

Selenium Gut Health Benefits

While selenium plays a major role in several bodily processes, it may also directly benefit gut health. The human gut (i.e., the intestinal and digestive tract) is home to a microbiome of bacteria. These bacteria are normally helpful rather than harmful. They assist with the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients and take up space to prevent potentially harmful bacteria from colonizing our bodies.

Selenium is thought to directly affect gut health through its effects on the microbiome.

Improved Microbiome Environment

Because selenium is a helpful nutrient through and through, it may lead to an improved microbiome environment in the long term.

The microbiome environment is best understood as the balance between acids, fluids, and cellular life in your intestinal tract. The environment dictates what type of bacteria grow and how likely those bacteria are to survive in the long term.

Generally, you want healthy bacteria to take up space in your intestine to bolster your functionality, to improve your immune system, and even to improve your mental health in some cases. Because of this, getting enough selenium is important to ensure that your microbiome’s environment is as hospitable and attractive to healthy bacteria as possible.

Reduced Chance of Cancer-Vulnerable Cells

When your body doesn’t have enough selenium, your gut may eventually become host to a type of gut microbiota that is highly susceptible to cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular issues, thyroid dysfunctions, and more. Because of this, selenium deficiency may lead to digestive or other problems later down the road (if it isn’t taken care of, that is).

If you give your body enough selenium, helpful, healthy bacteria will grow instead. This bacteria’s very presence prevents hostile or cancer-vulnerable bacteria from setting up shop. This may, in turn, lower the likelihood of acquiring certain chronic conditions in the future.

Reduced Intestinal Irritation

In addition to its other benefits, selenium may benefit gut health by reducing intestinal irritation. Intestinal irritation may be due to various factors or causes, including invading bacteria, immune system issues, or other bodily problems.

The exact logical process through which this occurs isn’t fully understood. Still, it is known that selenium calms down the intestinal walls and may make the cellular environment more welcoming for helpful bacteria.

In this way, selenium may assist if you have ongoing or chronic intestinal irritation, or it may help your intestinal tract resettle or stabilize after a period of instability.

Balance Microbial Flora

Lastly, selenium may help balance microbial flora by making it more likely for positive bacteria to grow and less likely for potentially harmful bacteria to grow in their place. A balanced gut microbiome is key for a healthy digestive system overall, which is why it’s a vital part of gut health as well.

A balanced gut microbiome will also affect how susceptible you are to eating unhealthy foods. Some evidence suggests that your gut microbiome changes with your diet. For instance, if you eat primarily unhealthy foods, bacteria that specialize in digesting those foods will become more numerous. This may, over time, make you more likely to eat unhealthy foods.

Selenium can help rebalance your gut microbiome and ensure that healthy bacteria outnumber unhealthy bacteria. While this won't help you lose weight directly, it could benefit any weight loss efforts, such as maintaining a good diet or exercising regularly.

When leveraged in conjunction with other weight loss efforts, such as weight loss IV drip infusions, you may see better results than you would if you ignored selenium entirely.

How To Get Selenium

Fortunately for humans, selenium is found in trace amounts in various foods, ranging from seafood to meats to Brazil nuts and more. Selenium content depends on the mineral concentration in natural soil or water.

Dietary Choices

Selenium may be found in a wide range of popular foods. These include but are not limited to:

  • Organ meats
  • Brazil nuts, which are some of the highest foods in selenium overall
  • Seafood
  • Bread and cereal products, especially fortified cereal
  • Beans and lentils
  • Eggs
  • Turkey and beef
  • Chicken

The odds are that you don’t have a selenium deficiency, as you probably absorb plenty of it in trace amounts from your foods. However, if you suspect your gut has issues, speak to a dietitian. They may determine whether a selenium deficiency is at the root of the problem.

You may also get selenium through certain oral selenium supplements. Just keep in mind that oral supplements, like foods, may lose some of their nutritional content through the digestive process.

IV Infusions

Alternatively, you may get selenium through certain IV drip infusions. IV drip infusions provided by wellness centers like Next Health provide your body with the nutrients it needs directly to the bloodstream.

This is advantageous because it skips the digestive system, meaning some of the nutrients won’t be acidified or dissolved when they reach your intestines. You’ll also receive selenium and other nutrients more rapidly than you would if those nutrients had to go all the way through your intestines before absorption.

Selenium is a common enough ingredient in a Myer’s Cocktail Base, which forms the nourishing and hydrating base for most IV drip infusions. Therefore, most IV drip infusions will also include at least a trace amount of selenium. Since you don’t need a ton of selenium each day (unless you have a deficiency), getting any IV drip infusion could also result in you getting all the selenium you need for daily health.


Ultimately, selenium is a vital nutrient in more ways than one. But although it’s important for many bodily processes, it’s perhaps most crucial for your gut health, especially when it comes to long-term microbiome composition.

If you want your gut’s bacteria to be comprised of healthy, helpful bacteria, you’ll want to make sure you never experience selenium deficiency. Luckily, you can get selenium from your foods, supplements, and IV drip infusions.

IV drip infusions are more accessible than ever, especially since they’re offered at each Next Health location, including New York, Century City, and more. Contact us today if you want to try IV drip therapy yourself or have more questions about the process.


Selenium | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Supplemental selenium source on gut health: insights on fecal microbiome and fermentation products of growing puppies | FEMS Microbiology Ecology | Oxford Academic

Selenium in Human Health and Gut Microflora: Bioavailability of Selenocompounds and Relationship With Diseases | NCBI

Do gut bacteria inhibit weight loss? | Harvard Health

The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems | NCBI

The effect of selenium on the gut microbiota and intestinal mucosa | NCBI

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