Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level for selenium

K. Pentieva, D Turck, T Bohn, J Castenmiller, S de Henauw , K-I Hirsch-Ernst , HK Knutsen, A Maciuk, I Mangelsdorf, HJ McArdle, C Pelaez , A Siani, F Thies, S Tsabouri, M Vinceti, P Aggett, M Crous Bou , F Cubadda, L Ciccolallo, A de Sesmaisons LecarreL Fabiani, A Titz, A Naska

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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 weight0.75). 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 number7704
Pages (from-to)1-194
Number of pages194
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 20 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KgaA on behalf of the European Food Safety Authority.


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


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