Although pregnant women have a higher need for selenium, they usually get enough of this mineral through dietary means, and supplementation is not usually necessary. In fact, consuming too much can cause serious problems, such as selenium toxicity or even death. However, if you have low levels of selenium and pregnancy occurs, you may have a higher risk of miscarriages.
Selenium and Pregnancy: An Overview
Pregnant women have a slightly higher need for selenium, compared to most adults. However, pregnant women living in the United States usually get enough selenium through dietary means. For most pregnant women, there is probably no need to take any additional selenium; in fact, too much can be dangerous.
Am I Getting Enough Selenium During Pregnancy?
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of selenium for pregnant women is 60 mcg per day, compared to 55 mcg per day for non-pregnant adults. Because selenium is found in a wide variety of commonly consumed foods, most people don't have any trouble getting enough, at least in the United States. People in other parts of the world, however, may be more likely to have selenium deficiencies, due to low soil levels and, therefore, low food levels of selenium.
There is some evidence that low selenium levels may be linked to first-trimester miscarriages and recurrent miscarriages. However, this does not necessarily mean that taking selenium can help prevent miscarriages, especially in women who do not have a selenium deficiency.
Keep in mind that selenium can cause serious side effects. For adults (including pregnant women), toxicity can occur at doses higher than 400 mcg of selenium per day. There have even been reports of death due to selenium toxicity.
If you are pregnant, it is always a good idea to have a discussion with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including selenium.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 30, 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: Selenium (8/1/2004). NIH Web site. Available at: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/selenium.asp. Accessed January 30, 2008.
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