Selenium is a mineral that is highly linked to cognitive performance.
Research has shown that selenium deficiency is linked to cognitive decline in the elderly, although there may be other aspects involved as well.
Regardless, you need selenium to be healthy, and it’s much harder to get on a vegan diet than one with animal products.
How Much Selenium Do You Need?
The RDA for selenium for male or female adults is 55 mcg (µg).
You can get that in just a few servings of certain plant-based foods, which is why selenium deficiency isn’t particularly common.
The Best Vegan Sources of Selenium
I’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list of vegan with selenium. You can sort by the amount per 100 grams, or by 100 calories by clicking the headers.
|Food||Selenium (µg) per 100 grams||Selenium (µg) per 100 calories|
|Vital wheat gluten||39.7||10.7|
|Wheat flour (whole-grain)||12.7||3.8|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||1.5||11.5|
|Red bell pepper||0.1||0.5|
**For some reason, my data for oats didn’t include selenium. According to another source, oats have about 23 micrograms per cup, making them one of the best sources of selenium as well.
Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium of any food, and you actually have to worry about eating too many of them. In a large quantity, brazil nuts can lead to acute selenium toxicity.
Vegan Foods That Have A Lot of Selenium
Selenium is mainly found in grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Grains – Vital wheat gluten, barley, rye, buckwheat, whole grains, oats, and quinoa all have significant amounts of selenium. In other words, if you’re eating just about any grain on a regular basis, you’ll get enough selenium from that alone.
- Nuts – Brazil nuts are obviously the king of selenium, but certain other nuts like cashews, peanuts, and pistachios also have a decent amount of selenium.
- Seeds – Chia seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseed are all right near the top per 100 grams. Seeds are some of the plant-based sources of so many nutrients (e.g. iron, magnesium, etc.), and everyone should try to add a few tablespoons of seeds to their foods on a regular basis.
Aside from brazil nuts, you’ll need multiple servings of any other foods to reach the RDA.
When looking at it from on a per calorie basis, brazil nuts are still on top, but a few other foods jump up near the top of the list:
- Red leaf lettuce
These foods, on top of the others on this particular list, will help you get as much selenium as you need while keeping your overall calorie intake down.