Too Much Selenium Can Lead to Hair Loss - TELETIES

Too Much Selenium Can Lead to Hair Loss

When you see selenium in hair cleansers, and also hear that selenium can cause hair loss, it can feel overwhelming to know which is right. It all comes down to how selenium supports your thyroid which plays a critical part in hair health, and selenium impacts your scalp by helping to control dandruff making it a popular ingredient in shampoos and conditioners.

A little bit of selenium can go a long way when it comes to supporting the thyroid, which is linked to hair loss, or alopecia. When thyroid levels are too low, it can impair the ability of hair follicles to sustain hair growth, and that isn’t limited to your scalp.

Selenium supports the thyroid glands, and the thyroids support healthy hair growth. And as the NIH points out, selenium deficiencies and selenium toxicities can result in hair loss so having the right amount is key to healthy hair.

Selenium Supplementation and Your Hair

While the primary benefit of selenium is supporting the thyroid, there’s no need for most of us to be supplementing with high doses to stimulate hair growth or minimize hair loss.  This trace element is already in many of the foods you eat. Here’s a chart from the USDA featuring selenium rich foods.  You'll be surprised to see how common it is.

As this study shows, even if you are selenium deficient, it is unlikely that you would experience hair loss. Plus, supplementing with selenium may be more detrimental than helpful to your hair. According to the NIH, adults from 14 and up need 55 mg per day, and a bit more if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But always talk to your doctor to find the right amount that you need as they know your medical history.

Foods With Selenium

Lots of the foods you already eat like beans, turkey, and whole wheat bread have selenium in them. This makes it easy to get the needed amount of selenium for healthy hair.  The chart below comes directly from the USDA link referenced above.



Selenium, Se(µg)Per Measure

Sunflower seeds

1 cup


Swiss cheese

1 cup


Enriched pasta

1 cup


Whole wheat pasta

1 cup


Coho wild salmon cooked

3 oz



1 cup


Portabella mushrooms

1 cup



1 cup


Wheat flour, white, and enriched bread



For breakfast try scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and fresh berries. Lunch is the perfect time to eat a hamburger on a whole wheat bun, with a side salad. A great dinner option would be grilled shrimp with a fiber-packed lentil salad. If you want to add a snack, grab a handful of raw walnuts or almonds to make sure you’re getting enough selenium.

Selenium and Your Scalp

Selenium applied topically in the form of selenium sulfide can be found in a lot of dandruff shampoos as selenium helps control dandruff in the right amounts. And if you’re wondering about selenium for hair growth, a healthy scalp results in healthy hair. If you have dandruff, choose a selenium sulfide shampoo that will help loosen and rinse away dry, flaky skin cells caused by excess fungus growth and excess sebum.

Shampoos for dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis that contain prescription-strength 2.5% selenium sulfide are most effective in managing dandruff symptoms like itching, oiliness, and flaking. This formulation works by slowing the growth of yeast on the scalp and by slowing down how fast your body sheds skin cells.

Although some people report scalp irritation and dryness from selenium sulfide shampoos, they can normally be safely used up to three times a week, but talk to your dermatologist first as you want to make sure it is right for your skin.

You’re likely already getting the needed amount of selenium from the foods you’re eating, so don’t overthink it. And if you have thyroid problems, ask your doctor to see if you have a selenium deficiency. Did you find this guide helpful? Join our newsletter for more content just like it.

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