Are You Getting Real Selenium or a Toxic Synthetic?

Did you know that the following products on the market, including the highly touted “organic” pet food brand, Newman’s Own, contains sodium selenate? That is not real selenium! We can find many popular products today that we think are natural selenium supplements, such as Twin Lab “Sodium Selenite” and Vitamin Research Products “Selenium.” There are also many brands of veterinary vitamins that list it on their label. And you thought you could buy with confidence for your beloved vet. There are also some nutrition shakes, such as “Kids Essentials,” and Nestle’s “Nutrament,” that contain this chemical version as well. And how about the infant formula you might have purchased from Sam’s Club, called “Simply Right,” or Enfamil’s, “Premium Infant Formula Powder”? Even multi-vitamins such as “Centrum” by Pfizer and/or “One-A-Day” by Bayer, who sell millions of bottles a month, contain this stuff. After a quick sweep of Costco labeling I found it in many products. ‘OK,’ you say, ‘so what’s the big deal about the fact that they all contain sodium selenite?’

What’s wrong with sodium selenite?

We’ve all heard that the mineral selenium is good for us and that brazil nuts are a wonderful source of it, but most people don’t or won’t eat those every day. Now what’s the problem with getting sodium selenite in our food or supplements? One day we hear something is great and we rush out and buy it and then the next study comes along and they tell us it’s dangerous or it’s worthless.

According to (one of my favorite sources for information), sodium selenate, also known as sodium selinite, is a byproduct of copper metal refining. Today we can find this stuff quite commonly listed as a “nutrient” on the labels of many products being marketed, and guess what? They market this toxic substance as a key selling-point like it is actually good for us. The only problem is that 108 milligrams of this common “nutrient” can kill you! Why do you suppose that is? Can’t they just use the real selenium and not the toxic immitation?

Sodium selenite is four times more lethal than sodium cyanide.

How were any of us supposed to know that it only takes .4 milligrams (that’s 250 micrograms, or 250 millionths of a gram) of this stuff called sodium selenite to kill 50 percent of the rats who are made to ingest it? A human weighs about 275 times more than a rat, and we have a 50 percent chance of dying if we only consume 108 milligrams of it. How much is that? Well, it is only about 11 grains of sand if you would like to visualize an amount. Is it really possible that a dose of sodium selenate that small could kill a grown man or woman? Apparently so.

But here is the double edged sword: The good selenium that is found in foods like brazil nuts, mustard seeds (not easy to chow down on), and fresh produce grown in selenium-rich soil is infinitely different from the biologically inert forms being put in some of these multivitamins and other prepared food products. For example, sodium selenite/selenate can cause cancer, whereas the selenium found within food grown in the rich soil that contains it, or in the good laboratory chelated forms such as selenomethionine have all been shown to prevent and combat cancer. Money hungry companies then hire advertising folks who simply spin it into something they can hype. Then all they have to do is package it up as a buzz word ingredient and slap it on a label and we will just say, “Oh boy this product contains selenium, I just read something about how great that is,” and they think we will just buy it. Problem is, they are right….we do! Why do we do that? Because we feel we can trust these big companies. Isn’t bigger always better in America? I think we are smarter then they give us credit for.

I write and speak often on the benefits of whole food supplements (not isolates) because the principle that explains the difference is, when you isolate a nutrient or vitamin out of the food complex within which it is naturally found, and where it is inseparably bound to thousands of known and unknown food factors such as enzymes, protein chaperones, glyconutrients, etc., it is no longer beneficial to life. This is especially true in the case of us vertebrate mammals. You see we are equipped to get our minerals from the plants we ingest or through the biotransformation of inorganic minerals to organic ones by microflora in our gastrointestinal tracts.

Please remember that a whole food source, such as in the case of selenium chelate, will often have a lower nutrient dose. This does not mean that the whole food product will produce less results than chemical compounds or isolates, because most often, the results are better and longer lasting. We don’t want to use supplements the way that drugs are used, such as using them to palliate symptoms. We want to nourish the body so that it operates optimally and can continue to rebuild, repair and heal itself.

Don’t be fooled by the milligrams listed on the labels. This is a deliberate ploy by most manufacturers to convince you to buy and take supplements the way drugs are prescribed and that is why the so called experts advise you to take so many milligrams of this or that. There is no comparison to the value of a whole orange, which contains natural vitamin C, bioflavanoid complexes and natural buffering agents such as that white stuff the orange contains on the inside of the rind. Ascorbic acid is usually nothing more than a chemical compound synthesized in a lab rather than its little known cousin, the whole food supplement. Why is that? Because whole food supplements are more expensive to manufacture and, bottom line, that is what counts in the Wall Street mentality of today.

There you have it. The primary reason that sodium selenite/sodium selenate are preferred by these unscrupulous drug companies masquerading as vitamin manufacturers, over safer, more beneficial forms like those that are chelated or yeast-grown, is because it is more profitable to use raw materials of lower quality.

“You get what you pay for” is a saying that usually rings true for dietary supplements. Buying industrial waste products, or chemicals that are considered hazardous waste, and repackaging them as “dietary supplements” can be extremely profitable. Indeed, this is not the first time in American history that such a crime has been perpetuated on the unsuspecting public. Let’s look back at the FDA-approved use of fluoride in our drinking water and the use of radioactive cobalt-60 culled from nuclear reactors for the irradiation of conventional foods, comes to mind immediately.

Get the picture? We can connect the dots as to how industrial waste products with known toxicity are eventually converted into commodities or technologies which are alleged be beneficial to our health. These substances have very high disposal costs for the industries that excrete them into our environment, the liability is converted, through the right combination of lobbying, miseducation and “checkbook science,” into a commodity, with the environment and we the consumers suffering health and financial losses as a result, according to A little research especially on the subject of fluoride wil be a mind blowing experience for those of you who still use fluoridated toothpaste and still drink tap water. Please explore getting a reverse osmosis filtration system in your home or another purification system that makes economic and health sense to you. Just be sure to vet these systems well to be sure they take out all the harmful toxins such as chlorine and fluoride.

Back to selenium: Unfortunately, inorganic forms of selenium are not the only problem with mass-market vitamins that price-conscious consumers pick over true quality products. Take the multivitamin Centrum, for example, whose manufacturer Wyeth is one of the most powerful pharmaceutical companies in the world. Aren’t they OK? This popular vitamin contains, according to, the infamous ingredient in question here, sodium selenate and their label states it contains 55 mcg/ 50 mcg, among other compounds deemed not to be from natural sources. Check this link to view the complete product analysis of Centrum Silver’s ingredients and see if you want to put it in your body rather than a whole food type supplement from a respected manufacturer who specializes in this concept.

If sodium selenite and these other chemical compounds are toxic, how can they be marketed as beneficial to our health?

Today, there is no law that forbids the use of these substances in food products or dietary supplements, despite sound research demonstrating their toxicity.  This is because we have in the U.S. a chemical and drug industry-friendly “weight of evidence” standard for toxicological risk assessment. Rather than using the “precautionary principle,” which dictates that a substance suspected of being harmful should be duly regulated to minimize the public’s exposure, the “weight of evidence” paradigm requires a panel of government appointed experts to evaluate all the data, and they must also come up with a consensus that the evidence unequivocally demonstrates the substance in question poses a serious health risk. Until such an assessment can be made, a number of substances with obvious toxicity are “innocent until proven guilty” and can be portrayed by irresponsible and/or uneducated manufacturers as being beneficial to human health.

It is unconscionable right now to see that this time in history, smaller dietary supplement manufacturers are being accused of being “unregulated” and of having poor quality standards (even when they are incurring great costs by using vastly superior ingredients), while massive pharmaceutical companies who have every resource at their disposal, are allowed to market toxic chemicals to consumers under the banner of USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or “pharmaceutical grade” quality. There is no such thing as a pharmaceutical grade supplement ingredient because supplements are not supposed to contain drugs. Therefore how can there be pharmceutical grades?

We the people therefore need to realize that sometimes companies will intentionally mislead us, with the help of folks like the FDA. To think there are masses of people who actually still trust them and can’t see the colusion between the insurance companies and the FDA. These very same companies will advertise products that have no health benefits; or worse, may actually be harmful to our health.

The rub becomes the billions of dollars in health care costs (and the suffering these costs represent) that could be saved every year if Americans took the simple step of taking a quality multivitamin (such as Waiora’s EDN which is a liquid concentrate and is made from whole food sources, not isolates) and an organic, cold extracted Omega-3 marine lipid supplement (such as Moxxor) every day. It is always advisable to look for product manufacturers that use high quality, natural, organic ingredients, including those made from whole foods, as they are so much easier for our bodies to utilize and therefore contribute significantly to filling the void in our diets, which has occurred through non-organic farming methods that just strip our soil of its trace mineral matrix. These minerals which are now conspicuous by their absence include some 72 trace minerals, including selenium.

The bottom line is simply check the labels on the foods you buy and your vitamin and mineral supplements and look to see if they contain the real selenium, which is the laboratory chelated form like selenomethionine or you might see it listed as selenium chelate, otherwise eat some Brazil nuts every day!


Kamia T.
Kamia T2 years ago

Is THERE NOTHING that pet food manufacturers will not do to make a few bucks? Simply sickening! It's just hard to do raw food for six large dogs, frankly.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Celeste, for Sharing this!

Rose C.
Rose Ellen C5 years ago

After reading this article, I read through a substantial amount of dry cat foods on the market, including some very expensive, "healthier" brands. The majority have "sodium selenite" as an ingredient. If a pet is eating the same food every day, they are getting a lot of it in their system over a period of time, even if it's only a minor ingredient. The Iams cat food I checked did not have it. Needless to say, I have been buying Iams ever since (no, I am not employed by them).

richa blue akasha
Raiin Blue6 years ago

thanks for sharing

Luna ButterflyMoon
Past Member 6 years ago

Just checked my vitamin bottle: it contains the yeast-free, organically bound ''selenomethionine'' form of selenium. So thank god, the company I essentially trust my body to, hasn't let me down on this one.

Mel M.
Past Member 6 years ago


Clare R.
Clare R6 years ago

Thanks for the informative article...

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson6 years ago

the last sentance is excellent advice...bottom line think "holistic", check everything...and DO NOT GIVE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY TO THE THE BIG-PHARMA COMPANYS,...that are just using everyone for a " guinea pig" ANYWAY!! ...( WHAT WAS SAFE, MAY NOT BESO ANYMORE! just beware and meake your choices very carefully!...BE WELL!!...bottom line!

Melinda K.
Past Member 6 years ago

Shocking facts, stick to Brazil Nuts!

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U6 years ago

Thank you !