Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level for selenium

Dominique Turck, Torsten Bohn, Jacqueline Castenmiller, Stefaan de Henauw, Karen-Ildico Hirsch-Ernst, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Alexandre Maciuk, Inge Mangelsdorf, Harry J McArdle, Carmen Peláez, Kristina Pentieva, Alfonso Siani, Frank Thies, Sophia Tsabouri, Marco Vinceti, Peter Aggett, Marta Crous Bou, Francesco Cubadda, Laura Ciccolallo, Agnès de Sesmaisons LecarréLucia Fabiani, Ariane Titz, Androniki Naska, EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for selenium. Systematic reviews of the literature were conducted to identify evidence regarding excess selenium intake and clinical effects and potential biomarkers of effect, risk of chronic diseases and impaired neuropsychological development in humans. Alopecia, as an early observable feature and a well-established adverse effect of excess selenium exposure, is selected as the critical endpoint on which to base a UL for selenium. A lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL) of 330 μg/day is identified from a large randomised controlled trial in humans (the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)), to which an uncertainty factor of 1.3 is applied. A UL of 255 μg/day is established for adult men and women (including pregnant and lactating women). ULs for children are derived from the UL for adults using allometric scaling (body weight 0.75). Based on available intake data, adult consumers are unlikely to exceed the UL, except for regular users of food supplements containing high daily doses of selenium or regular consumers of Brazil nuts. No risk has been reported with the current levels of selenium intake in European countries from food (excluding food supplements) in toddlers and children, and selenium intake arising from the natural content of foods does not raise reasons for concern. Selenium-containing supplements in toddlers and children should be used with caution, based on individual needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere07704
Number of pages194
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements The Panel wishes to thank for their contribution to this output: the WG on Upper Levels: Peter Aggett, Marta Crous Bou, Francesco Cubadda, Harry J McArdle, Androniki Naska, and Marco Vinceti; and EFSA staff members: Ionut Craciun, Constanza de Matteu Monteiro, Rita Ferreira de Sousa, Zsuzsanna Horvath, Irene Muñoz Guajardo, and Angeliki Sofroniou. The Panel also wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Daniele Cappellani (University of Pisa, Italy), Roger Sunde (University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA) and Peter Willatts (University of Dundee, UK) as hearing experts, and all national institutions in European countries that provided consumption data for this scientific output and the authors of published papers on selenium who provided additional information upon request.
EFSA may include images or other content for which it does not hold copyright. In such cases, EFSA indicates the copyright holder and users should seek permission to reproduce the content from the original source.


  • tolerable upper intake level
  • UL
  • selenium
  • dietary reference value


Dive into the research topics of 'Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level for selenium'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this