Health Guide


What is it?

Selenium is a nutrient used with other antioxidants to help prevent arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. It is also used in asthma, burns, and male infertility.

Other names for Selenium include: Selenite, Selenocysteine, and Selenate.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Selenium you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Selenium. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions: Do not take selenium without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicine to treat low blood platelet counts (example: eltrombopag (Promacta (R)) (9)


  • Before taking Selenium, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Poisoning can result from taking too much Selenium. Taking too much Selenium may also cause hair loss, weak nails, digestion problems, nervousness, mental depression, a metallic taste, and vomiting (throwing up). Death from poisoning has been reported (2).

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Finger and toe nail changes (3)
  • Garlic-smelling breath (3)
  • Nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), stomach cramps, or diarrhea (loose stools) (3)
  • Severe stomach upset, hair loss, altered taste, or depression (2)
  • Tiredness and irritability (3)


1. Anon: Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th ed. National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC; 1989.

2. Anon: Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts and Comparisons Inc, St. Louis, MO; 1998:167-169.

3. Fan AM and Kizer KW, Selenium: Nutritional, toxicological and clinical aspects. West. J Med. 1990; 153: 160-167.

4. Hasselmark L, Malmgren R, Zetterstrom O et al: Selenium supplementation in intrinsic asthma. Allergy 1993; 48(1): 30-36.

5. Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW et al: Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin: a randomized, controlled trial: Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group. JAMA 1996; 276(24): 1957-1963.

6. Scott R, MacPherson A, Yates RWS et al: The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol 1998; 82(1): 76-80.

7. Korpela H, Kumpulainen J, Jussila E et al: Effect of selenium supplementation after acute myocardial infarction. Res Commun Pathol Pharmacol 1989; 65(2): 249-252.

8. Peretz A, Neve J, Duchateau J et al: Adjuvant treatment of recent onset rheumatoid arthritis by selenium supplementation (letter). Br J Rheumatol 1992; 31(4): 281-282.

9. Product Information: PROMACTA(R) oral tablets, eltrombopag oral tablets. Glaxo Smith Kline, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2008.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

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