The importance of selenium and iron in everyday diet

Selenium and iron belong to the class of nutrients known as micro-nutrients or trace elements. What this means is that the body only needs them in smaller amount but are essential for good health.

foods high in iron
Foods high in iron; image source:

Many of us do not bother about whether we have enough nutrients in our body and that is why people fall sick most of the time.

However, we are going to look at the importance of selenium and iron in our day to day diet, and why we should be more attentive to whether we are having enough of these nutrients for the betterment of our health.

Having the right proportion of some of these nutrients can help us to prevent some life threatening diseases.

Why is Iron so Important in our Everyday Diet?

Both athletes and people with sedentary lifestyles need enough iron in their diet on daily basis.

Pregnant women need to consume at least 27mg, breastfeeding mothers 9mg, women who are 51 years and above needs 8mg and men 19 years and above needs 8mg of iron daily. These are the minimum daily iron requirement while the maximum for all category is 45mg.

Pregnant women need enough iron to maintain the health of their baby and pregnancy in general. Not getting enough iron is one of the major causes of infant mortality as well as a low-birth weight which most babies have.

Do athletes need iron too?

For those casual athletes who train less than four hours weekly, iron deficiency is not usually a serious concern than for a sedentary person.

On the other hand, those who train for more than six hours weekly need to be more concerned and check themselves yearly. Athletes are very prone to having an iron deficiency because they use up their iron stores more quickly. For such people, the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is between 10 to 15mg daily.

Food that contains iron

While many of the foods we consume daily contain iron, there’s a lot that do not. However, some of the foods that contain a high amount of iron include:


Common Foods (Plant & Animal Base)


Amount (mg)

1. Kidney (organ meat) 9.3
2. Liver (organ meat) 13.4
3. Yogurt 2.1
4. Cereal (all types) 4.0 – 4.3
5. Oatmeal (cooked) 4.5-6.6

*Note: You can also get iron from supplements.

Other Importance of adding iron to our daily diet

  • Essential for blood production
  • Essential for respiration and energy metabolism
  • Essential for proper brain function
  • Essential for proper muscle function

Why is Selenium so Important in our Everyday Diet?

Selenium is an essential trace element just like iron. That means the body only needs a small quantity of it and it is essential for good health.

Selenium offers the following benefits.

  • It helps to manufacture special protein known as antioxidant enzymes; this helps to prevent cells from damage.
  • Gives the body the needed protection after you receive vaccination
  • Research has shown that it can prevent certain types of cancer
  • It can also prevent cardiovascular disease
  • Lift mood and prevents depression
  • Boost heart health
  • Keeps the thyroid in proper working condition

Food That Contains Selenium

Food sources Calories DRI/DV
1. Shrimp 135 102%
2. Turkey 167 62%
3. Chicken 187 57%
4. Lamb 310 51%


Both selenium and iron are needed for good health. It is very important that we consume foods that contain these important trace elements but at a moderate level.


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