Oxidative Stress Take 3: Selenium Status of German Vegans

In continuing my glutathione investigation (see my two posts from last week Vegetarian Diet, Glutathione and Oxidative Stress and Oxidative Stress in Vegetarian Diets: Take Two), I came across a study of selenium status of German vegetarians from 2010 that I had not previously posted about (1).

The reason this is relevant to glutathione is that in assessing selenium status, the researchers measured a protein that requires selenium, mentioned in the earlier posts, glutathione peroxidase.

Selenium is considered an antioxidant because it is needed for the production of glutathione peroxidase which, in turn, neutralizes reactive oxygens species by “coupling their reduction with the oxidation of glutathione (2).”

Because animals require selenium to live, non-vegans should be able to get selenium from animal products. Plants can absorb selenium from the soil, but it has to be in the soil. The US soil typically has decent levels of selenium, but the German soil is low in selenium.

The study found that vegetarians had only 71% of the selenium storage protein, selenoprotein P (SEPP), as did the meat-eaters. However, they had the same levels of glutathione peroxidase. When the vegans were separated from the lacto-ovo vegetarians, it did not change the findings for either group.

The authors state, “Whether the differences in SEPP or total serum Se concentrations are important for health issues and disease risk or for the course of pathologies remains to be demonstrated.”

However, this study, as the previous two I blogged about, provides some evidence that the glutathione status, via glutathione peroxidase levels, of vegetarians is similar to meat-eaters.

Kiefer, you are now 0 for 3. To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s getting late early.” As a Sacramento Kings fan, I can identify.

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1. Hoeflich J, Hollenbach B, Behrends T, Hoeg A, Stosnach H, Schomburg L. The
choice of biomarkers determines the selenium status in young German vegans and
vegetarians. Br J Nutr. 2010 Dec;104(11):1601-4. | link

2. Selenium. Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University. Accessed February 19, 2013. | link

7 Responses to “Oxidative Stress Take 3: Selenium Status of German Vegans”

  1. Michael Says:

    Hi Jack!

    Selenium is in abundance in coconuts and in Sesam seeds (around 800 micro gramm per 100 gr.). Brazil nuts are also good source but not as sesam and coconuts.

    best wishes

  2. dimqua Says:

    I have a simple question about selenium. I live in Russia, where the soils usually have low amounts of selenium. Therefore, I eat one Brazil nut once in two days. Do you think this is enough for me (I’m vegan)?

  3. Jack Norris RD Says:


    The RDA for selenium is 55 µg. Brazil nuts in the U.S. have much more than that, but I would have no idea how much selenium brazil nuts you would buy in Russia have. Do they come from the U.S.? I would assume any selenium amounts listed for foods in the USDA database are only to food grown in the U.S.

  4. dimqua Says:


    USDA says that 144g of sesame seeds (whole, dried) contain 49.5µg of selenium (1) and 160g of raw coconut meat contain 16.2µg (2). But
    133g of dried brazil nuts contain 2549.6µg (3)!

    1. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3600?format=Full
    2. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3636?format=Full
    3. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3621?format=Full

  5. Michael Says:

    Hi dimqua,

    thanks for the info! I got mine from germany (where i live) but read it a few years ago. I do not have any link as i have not looked into that numbers again.


  6. dimqua Says:

    > The RDA for selenium is 55 µg.

    In the UK it’s 75 µg/day for adult males. Do you think it would be better for adult males to try get more that 55 µg/day?

    > Do they come from the U.S.?

    I couldn’t find brazil nuts from the U.S.. I use ones that come from Brazil, because our food co-op sells them. Unfortunately, it’s unknown in what area they were grown.

    The Linus Pauling Institute article said that “brazil nuts grown in areas of Brazil with selenium-rich soil may provide more than 100 mcg of selenium in one nut, while those grown in selenium-poor soil may provide ten times less”: http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7889353.

  7. Jack Norris RD Says:

    > Do you think it would be better for adult males to try get more that 55 µg/day?

    I don’t know.

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