Be Careful with Brazil Nuts and Selenium Poisoning

Brazil nuts derive their name from their host tree, the Brazil tree. These nuts are hard shelled and grow inside a fruit which appears similar to a coconut. The Brazil nut is a rich source of non-animal based protein and can be eaten raw or roasted. However, do not eat too many of them at a time since they also contain a high amount of selenium. 

Brazil Nuts and Selenium Poisoning

If you eat too many Brazil nuts, you may end up suffering from selenium poisoning. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, and there is about 544 mg of selenium in 1 ounce of serving. Selenium is a micronutrient that is required by the body only in trace amounts. It is essential to the body for the production of selenoproteins which are enzymes that play a major role in the regulation of the immune system and the thyroid gland.

Our recommended daily allowance of selenium is 55 mg and the upper tolerable level is 400 mg for an adult. As Brazil nuts are high of selenium, you should be careful with Brazil nuts and selenium poisoning which can cause the following symptoms:

1. Respiratory Symptoms

Some of the respiratory symptoms of selenium poisoning include coughing, garlicky odor from the mouth, bronchitis, bronchial pneumonia, and pulmonary edema.

2. Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The GI symptoms include nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, metallic taste in the mouth and intestinal cramps.

3. Hair, Nail, Teeth and Skin Changes

Some of the earliest signs and symptoms of selenium poisoning can be seen in the hair, nails, and teeth. Hair loss, brittle nails, discolored teeth, deformed nails, and mottled and discolored skin can all point towards selenium poisoning.

4. Neurological Signs

Brazil nuts and selenium poisoning are related as excessive selenium can damage the nerves and brain tissue. The resultant symptoms include irritability, tremors, reduced alertness, low blood pressure, and unconsciousness.

Treatment of Selenium Poisoning

There is no known antidote for selenium poisoning and thus it becomes imperative to recognize the symptoms and seek medical attention immediately. Any food or supplement that contains selenium should be avoided. The symptoms will start to subside as the body naturally starts to get rid of the excessive selenium in the body. 

How Many Brazil Nuts Can You Take Without Side Effects?

A single Brazil nut is enough to exceed the recommended daily allowance of selenium by almost 200%. This is why you should eat no more than two Brazil nuts per day. Brazil nuts selenium poisoning is a very serious condition that can even be life threatening. Here is a chart to help you find out the amount of selenium you and your children can have on a daily basis. This chart shows the upper limit of selenium intake according to age.

Age

Male

Female

0 to 1 year

45-60 mcg

45-60 mcg

1 to 3 years

90 mcg

90 mcg

4 to 8 years

150 mcg

150 mcg

9 to 13 years

280 mcg

280 mcg

14 to 18 years

400 mcg

400 mcg

18 years and over

400 mcg

400 mcg

Pregnancy and lactation

400 mcg

400 mcg

Other Foods That Are Rich in Selenium

Now that you know Brazil nuts and selenium poisoning are related because Brazil nuts contain lots of selenium. What are other foods that are also rich in selenium?

1. Cooked Oysters

 

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Oyster

Selenium Content Every 3 oz.

154 μg

38.5  μg

130.9 μg

2. Cooked Tuna

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Ounce of Tuna

Selenium Content Every 3 oz.

108.2 μg

30.7 μg

92.0 μg

3. Whole-Wheat Bread

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Slice

Selenium Content per Slice Toasted

 40.3 μg

11.3 μg

13.2 μg

4. Seeds (Sunflower)

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Cup

Selenium Content per Ounce

 79.3 μg

101.5 μg

22.2 μg

5. Cooked Pork (Lean Tenderloin)

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per 3 Ounces

Selenium Content Every Chop

 51.6 μg

43.9 μg

37.7 μg

6. Cooked Beef & Lamb (Lean Beef Steak)

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content Every 3 Ounces

Selenium Content per Steak

 44.8 μg

38.1 μg

100.1 μg

7. Cooked Chicken and Turkey

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Cup of Chopped Meat

Selenium Content Every 3 oz.

37.8 μg

52.9 μg

32.1 μg

8. Mushrooms (Crimini)

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Cup of Sliced Mushrooms

Selenium Content per Mushroom

 26.0 μg

 18.7 μg

5.2μg

9. Whole Grains (Rye)

Selenium Content in 100 Grams

Selenium Content per Cup

Selenium Content Every 3 oz.

13.9  μg

23.5 μg

11.8 μg

 
 
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