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What Are the Pros and Cons of Selenium for Hair?

By Helena Reimer
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are several pros and cons to be aware of before taking selenium for hair. Both a deficiency and an overdose of selenium can have negative effects on the hair and often result in hair loss. In the right amounts, however, selenium seems to be beneficial for hair and can promote hair growth while eliminating dandruff problems. Foods grown in selenium-rich soil and selenium supplements can help to ensure healthy levels of selenium for good hair health.

One of the benefits of selenium for hair is that it helps to encourage hair growth. The selenium is used to make selenoproteins, which help with hair follicle stimulation in order to encourage new and healthy hair growth. A deficiency in selenium can result in fewer selenoproteins, which then leads to unusual development in hair follicles, reduced growth, and hair loss.

Another benefit of selenium for hair is that it can help to prevent and eliminate dandruff. It is often incorporated into specially formulated hair products in the form of selenium sulfide to eliminate dandruff problems. One of the downfalls of using these products is that the selenium sulfide can become toxic or evaporate from the product. As a result, the products can be become ineffective and even dangerous. To avoid this, the products should be used before they expire.

It is important not to overdose when using selenium, since that can have adverse effects on the hair. The recommended daily intake of selenium is 55 micrograms (mcg) for adults and between 20 and 40 mcg for children under the age of 14. For medical purposes, however, it can be taken in larger dosages up to 400 mcg a day, provided it is taken on a short-term basis. Some of the negative selenium side effects include hair loss and unusual changes in hair texture.

Aside from supplements, dietary sources of selenium are also a choice, and the risk of overdose is minimal. A few good sources are Brazil nuts, mushrooms, and many fruits and vegetables. Many meats, eggs, and fermented foods are also good sources.

Taking selenium for hair can result in many other benefits as well. Some of the benefits of selenium include protection against cancer and heart disease. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant that helps to stop the effects of harmful free radicals that can damage tissue cells. Selenium deficiencies have been linked to arthritis and osteoarthritis; however, there is not enough evidence to prove that selenium can help to prevent or reverse the condition.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1007207 — On Jun 17, 2022

Our family has used selenium for preventive and therapeutic purposes for several decades. Always great results.

By SarahGen — On Jun 29, 2013

I was taking selenium for thyroiditis (it's beneficial for the thyroid) when I noticed that my hair stopped falling. I think selenium is a great vitamin for hair.

By ZipLine — On Jun 28, 2013

@ddljohn-- It's absolutely normal for selenium to not work for hair loss that's caused by medications or a health condition. I don't know any hair health supplement that's going to help in these situations.

Selenium does stop hair loss, but when the hair loss is caused or worsened by a selenium deficiency.

If you had side effects like nausea and nail changes, I think you must have taken too much selenium. No one should take more than 400 mcg of selenium per day. This amount is much less for children. And my doctor said that selenium shouldn't be taken for long term.

I have multiple vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B, magnesium, iron and selenium) and so selenium supplements do lessen may hair loss. But I only take 50 mcg per day and I give myself a break from it every two weeks.

By ddljohn — On Jun 28, 2013

I have to take a medication for epilepsy that's causing me to lose hair. I've tried many different vitamins for it and recently also tried selenium. Unfortunately, the selenium didn't do anything for my hair loss. It actually gave me nausea and caused weird color changes in my nails. I personally don't recommend selenium for hair loss. Biotin and vitamin E supplements are more helpful.

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