Brazil nuts as a source of selenium - does it increase libido?

Does Selenium Increase Libido?

Disclaimer: This article was crafted with the support of AI technology, followed by human editing for quality assurance.

Selenium can increase libido slightly by enhancing testosterone levels in deficient men. However, most people aren’t truly deficient since selenium is found in wide variety of foods, including eggs, fish, meat, and cereals. [2]

Selenium RDA is about 55 micrograms for men and women, or up to 70mcg for pregnant or lactating women. [1] Consuming more selenium than needed (either through food or supplements), can actually do you more harm than good—increasing oxidative stress and the risk of diabetes.

Studies, as we’ll see below, are mixed. Some show that selenium can improve libido, testosterone, fertility, and sperm motility in men. [8, 9] Other research shows no significant benefit, or in some cases, a counter-productive effect when selenium is consumed in excess. [3, 10]

Selenium’s Effect on Sexual Function

The idea is that selenium might improve testosterone levels, which results in increased libido. However, there is next to no solid human research to back this up.

The only context where selenium supplementation is beneficial for male health is fertility. More specifically, men who have sub-optimal selenium dietary intake may experience an improvement in sperm motility and higher chances for their partner to conceive.

What About Women?

As you’ve seen, we’ve focused on selenium’s effects on male vitality in this article. This is because there are next to no human studies on selenium and female libido. It doesn’t seem to have much benefit unless you’re deficient, which is rare.

With that said, even male studies that focus specifically on libido are scarce. The research we’ll now look at mostly revolves around fertility.

Notable Studies

Male Cyclists, Zinc, Selenium, and Testosterone

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Biological Trace Element Research looked into the effect of 4-week zinc and selenium supplementation on testosterone levels in 32 male cyclists after hard exercise. They were divided into 4 groups:

  1. Placebo
  2. Zinc supplement
  3. Selenium supplement
  4. Zinc-selenium supplement

The results? Exercise itself raised their T levels, with the zinc group having higher post-exercise free and total testosterone. But the selenium group saw no significant changes. [4]

Scottish Diet, Selenium, and Men’s Health

A 1998 study published in British Journal of Urology looked into selenium’s effects on fertility of Scottish men. The goal of the study was to see if the declining selenium intake in men was in any way linked to male subfertility.

The researchers took semen samples of sixty-nine men at the start of the study. Afterwards, they split these men into three groups:

  1. Placebo
  2. Selenium
  3. Selenium plus vitamins A, C, E

The trial lasted three months.

The researchers found improvement in sperm motility in both the selenium and selenium + vitamins groups. Five men from selenium groups also became fathers, compared to none from the placebo group. [5]

Too Much Selenium May Decrease Sperm Quality

Not all studies show positive results on male health from selenium supplementation.

In fact, a 2001 trial from the Journal of Andrology found that increasing selenium supplementation in healthy men actually decreased sperm motility. [10]

A 2009 randomized controlled trial published in the same journal found that selenium supplementation didn’t benefit androgen hormones, luteinizing hormone (precursor to testosterone), or other parameteres of male sexual health. [3]

How to Take Selenium for Libido

Selenium can easily be obtained through everyday foods as we’ve seen.

If there’s a considerable amount of processed foods in your diet, consider replacing at least a portion of those with vegetables, nuts, quality meat, pasture-raised eggs, and whole grains. This should fix any lack of selenium in your diet, and just as importantly in this context, it will promote healthy libido and sexual function.

By far the best food source of selenium is brazil nuts. A single brazil nut contains between 68-91mcg, which is more than the RDA! [6]

If you’re a fan of selenium supplements, make sure not to take more than 300mcg of selenium per day (diet and supplements combined).

Side Effects?

Selenium is generally seen as a healthy nutrient and a potent antioxidant that protects your cells together with glutathione, your body’s chief antioxidant. However, consuming too much selenium produces an opposite effect—causing oxidative stress and being pro-diabetic. [7]

References

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/selenium/#:~:text=Recommended%20Amounts,and%2070%20micrograms%20daily%2C%20respectively.
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/
  3. Hawkes WC, Alkan Z, Wong K. Selenium supplementation does not affect testicular selenium status or semen quality in North American men. J Androl. 2009 Sep-Oct;30(5):525-33. doi: 10.2164/jandrol.108.006940. Epub 2009 Apr 2. PMID: 19342701.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19342701/
  4. Shafiei Neek L, Gaeini AA, Choobineh S. Effect of zinc and selenium supplementation on serum testosterone and plasma lactate in cyclist after an exhaustive exercise bout. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec;144(1-3):454-62. doi: 10.1007/s12011-011-9138-2. Epub 2011 Jul 9. PMID: 21744023.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21744023/
  5. Scott R, MacPherson A, Yates RW, Hussain B, Dixon J. The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol. 1998 Jul;82(1):76-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-410x.1998.00683.x. PMID: 9698665.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9698665/
  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/#:~:text=Brazil%20nuts%2C%20for%20example%2C%20contain,if%20you%20eat%20too%20many.
  7. Stranges S, Marshall JR, Natarajan R, Donahue RP, Trevisan M, Combs GF, Cappuccio FP, Ceriello A, Reid ME. Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Aug 21;147(4):217-23. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-147-4-200708210-00175. Epub 2007 Jul 9. PMID: 17620655.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17620655/
  8. Safarinejad MR, Safarinejad S. Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized study. J Urol. 2009 Feb;181(2):741-51. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2008.10.015. Epub 2008 Dec 16. PMID: 19091331.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19091331/
  9. Moslemi MK, Tavanbakhsh S. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. Int J Gen Med. 2011 Jan 23;4:99-104. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S16275. PMID: 21403799; PMCID: PMC3048346.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21403799/
  10. Hawkes WC, Turek PJ. Effects of dietary selenium on sperm motility in healthy men. J Androl. 2001 Sep-Oct;22(5):764-72. PMID: 11545288.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11545288/

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