Subscriptions
  • Join our People's Pharmacy Page on Facebook
  • Follow JoeGraedon on Twitter
  • Follow Us
  • Free email newsletter

Print This Page

Selenium Excess and Hair Texture

  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.2/5 (28 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!

Q. You have saved my sanity! I’ve always enjoyed your column, but never needed your advice until last year.

I had been suffering in silence as my hair changed its texture from wavy to straight. Then my fingernails began to deteriorate. I thought it was another consequence of growing older, until I read in your column that too much selenium in the diet could affect hair and nails adversely.

At the time I was taking a supplement that contained selenium along with the lecithin I wanted. I immediately switched to a lecithin-only supplement. After about six months, the nails began to recover. In another four to six months, my hair had become wavy again, and my nails were much stronger. Thank you!

A. Problems with hair and nails are often difficult to diagnose, so we are glad we gave you the clues you needed. Selenium is an essential mineral, but excess selenium can be toxic. Loss of hair and nails has occurred both among Chinese people whose diets were naturally high in selenium and in Americans taking supplements with too much selenium.

The tolerable upper limit of selenium is around 400 micrograms daily. Brazil nuts are high in selenium and an ounce (roughly half a dozen) provides 800 micrograms. Overindulging regularly could lead to selenium toxicity.

  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.2/5 (28 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!

16 Comments

| Leave a comment

I was looking for another article on your site, but came upon this one first and couldn't believe it when I read it. I have been having a lot of problems with my nails for years. I am also a HUGE fan of Brazil nuts and eat them regularly. I have not been eating them regularly for about a month now and I am noticing my nails getting better. I was wondering why this was happening and now I know. Thank you so much!!!

What about almonds? Do almonds have a large amount of selenium, or any other element for that matter (besides calories), that one should be aware of? I like to roast my own almonds and usually eat a big handful or two every day.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: ALMONDS ARE NOT EXCESSIVELY HIGH IN SELENIUM.

i have read that tuna fish contains selenium in moderate amounts. i am very fond of tuna sandwiches and tuna casserole. Have you any information about the amount of selenium in a can of tuna? does this vary from white to light tuna?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE SELENIUM CONTENT IN TUNA IS ACTUALLY A PLUS, AS IT HELPS PROTECT AGAINST THE MERCURY TUNA ALSO CONTAINS: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/175/4026/1122

4 oz OF YELLOWFIN TUNA CONTAIN APPROXIMATELY 50 MICROGRAMS OF SELENIUM. ONLY ABOUT HALF THE SELENIUM FROM TUNA IS ABSORBED, HOWEVER: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/111/12/2180

I was told to try selenium for hair loss associated with anti-seizure medication (lamictal). I have always had thick silky hair, and it has now become thin and frizzy since on medication. There seems to be a lot of positive feedback about selenium from the anti-seizure med community. What are your thoughts? The possibility of losing even more of my hair is really impacting my self esteem, but stopping lamictal is not an option. I just discovered your site and I can't wait to read more. Thank you!

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: SELENIUM IS A TRACE MINERAL THAT MUST BE WITHIN A NORMAL RANGE FOR PROPER HAIR GROWTH AS WELL AS OTHER FUNCTIONS.

I have been taking selenium and zinc for hair loss and finding it very effective.
Could you print a list of foods high in selenium so that I don't overdose myself?
This is the first I have heard of selenium's deleterious effects. Could you also print any back up articles and research? Thank you

I had been eating several (14-20) brazil nuts a day for at least 3 months. I experienced dramatic hair loss. I am so depressed about my thin hair. I've lost at least half of it since eating the brazil nuts. But I thought it was because of eczema on my scalp. I found out about selenium toxicity and the high amount in brazil nuts. So I stopped eating them about 2 weeks ago. My hair is still falling out though. Approximately how long does it take the body to remove excess selenium and for hair loss to stop?

My hair was always straight as a stick as a kid, then when I was about 15 it became very curly and full. At some point I started taking Lamictol (around 19) & started loosing my hair so my Dr suggested I take 50mcg of selenium, my hair grew thick again. Then I quit both of them around 22. At 22 my hair turned straight again, now (25) it became thin & straggly. A couple months ago I started taking selenium and now..its turning curly and thick! Is this a coincidence?

I am a 24 yr old female, I have been on anti-seizure meds for about 20yrs, my seizures are very minor. I have been on 200mg/2 times a day of Carbomazipine (Tegrotol) for most of those 20 yrs. but after having a breakthrough seizure after 18yrs of being seizure free.

My doctor put me on the generic form of lamicatal and am now at 100 mg/2 times a day, and she is currently weening me off the Carbomazipine. My hair has been thinning mainly in the front of my scalp since I was in high school, I used to have very thick hair and now it is thin. I am too embarrassed to put it up in a ponytail since it is more noticeable since I am losing hair in the front.

I had a Vitamin B and Folic acid deficiency and have been taking vitamins for that for the past 8 months. After starting Lamictal I have noticed more hair falling out, I do see some hair growth but not has much as I want. I have been on Lamicatil for 4 months now, do you think that in a few months after my body adjusts to it my hair could start to grow back or stop falling out?

Also what are the best vitamins to use to reverse or minimize this problem? Like many people I have heard that selenium and zinc help those people on anti-seizure meds but have also heard that if you take too much it can CAUSE hair loss.

I am currently takings 55mg of selenium and 11mg of Zinc a day by taking Centrum A to Zinc. IS this dosage okay, is it too much or too little? Am I taking the correct vitamins or is there a different brand I should take. Please help, I am at the point where I don't want to go out in public because I feel that everyone is staring at my hair. What can I do?

i hear selenium grows hair.. why is everyone saying it doesnt?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: IF YOU WERE DEFICIENT IN SELENIUM (NOT MANY AMERICANS ARE), ADDING A SUPPLEMENT MIGHT HELP YOUR HAIR. BUT GETTING TOO MUCH IS HARMFUL TO MANY SYSTEMS, NOT JUST SKIN AND HAIR.

Hi,

Reading some of the questions above I was inspired to reach out for some advice.

I have recently had trouble with hair loss and a deterioration of my nails overall condition. My hair feels progressively thinner and it's texture continuously changes. Aside from the fact that it is long and needs a haircut, I think something larger is the issue. My nails are pealing and breaking easily as well. I have a history of an eating disorder (Bulimia) and my hair has changed since my early years as a result. Yet, I have been in recovery for quite some time and would like to boost my hair and nails. I was advised to take Selenium and Vitamin B6, but after reading about the delicate balance, I fear toxicity. Please advise.

I am getting married in June and would love for my hair to be fuller and healthier.

Looking forward to your response.

All the best!

Does Selenium help with growing black (african american) hair?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: IF SELENIUM WERE LACKING, IT MIGHT HELP. IF IT WERE IN ADEQUATE SUPPLY, IT SHOULDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE. TOO MUCH SELENIUM CAN IMPEDE HAIR GROWTH, REGARDLESS OF HAIR TEXTURE.

I received supplements for the treatment of cancer. I was advised to take 4 tablets of selenium per day each containing 200mcg of selenium. Hair loss began. I read up in my health book and found out that too much can cause hair loss. I asked advice and was told it depended on the individual. As the hair loss continued I decided to only take 200mcg or one a day. The hair loss is continuing and the hair is really thin. I have never had hair like it. Also I have very long hair and I have it on my head as a bun.

Do I need to stop selenium altogether?
Will all of my hair fall out? Would I grow bald?
Will it grow again or will the hair in my head just bulk up again?
How long does it generally take to come back to normal?

It is so good to be able to ask, and is there anything I can take to help. I take a spoon of molasses which has boron. I believe that helps. Love to hear from you. Joan

I am a cancer patient and have also noticed my hair has changed and believe it is due to the amount of selenium I have been taking. I take 200 mcg as well as others I have read on your site. Please tell me what other minerals would be best to take in place of selenium. I think I will just continue taking my calcium, magnesium and zinc with vitamin D (2,000 mg) and my whole food multivitamin only.

Hello,
I have been way too thin, in my body weight, for too long. I went to our local health food store and was advised quite a few different vitamins and minerals. I was taking the Selenium three times per day. I have been taking the Selenium for over a year, and my hair was getting thinner on my head and one eyebrow. Even the texture had changed on my head hair. I read in a magazine that Selenium causes loss of hair. I have been off the Selenium for just six months, and had my long thinning hair cut to shoulder length. I cannot believe it. My hair on my head is growing in thicker, softer, and more manageable. Also my one eyebrow grew back. Now, I am waiting to get my longer hair back. Also the curl has returned in my hair, and it is far more curlier.
I have learned so much from your website on what I should & shouldn't take with certain Rx and OTC medications. Even my skin is softer. I even gave our family doctor your website, and he finds it very helpful also.

I have extremely long thick hair and always have. I recently started eating brazil nuts for their selenium content and benefits of the selenium. I have been eating them for a couple months...1 to 2 a day. Last week I ate 5-8 a couple of days. I notice small clumps (10ish strands at a time all together) of my hair beginning to fall out and have finally came to the realization that it's possibly the selenium after doing an internet search.

I have always had thick thick hair and I can so tell the difference. I am petrified that it won't grow back!!!! I am going to only eat one brazil nut 2x per week and see if my hair starts to thicken.....prayers!

I began taking 100mcg of selenium for hair loss and borderline low (hypo) thyroid and have noticed it working wonders! I would shed 5-10 hairs at a time for many years everytime I ran my fingers through my hair and this has stopped. Nothing short of a miracle. When I take 200mcg, it seems to be too much. 100mcg is perfect.

Leave a comment

Share your comments or questions with the People's Pharmacy online community. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from other visitors to this web site should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical attention. Concerns about medications should be discussed with a health professional. Do not stop any medication without first checking with your physician.

Check this box to be notified by email when follow-up comments are posted.