Oysters and many other types of seafood are rich in selenium – an antioxidant mineral that you need in your daily diet, but only in small amounts. Your body uses selenium to produce selenium-dependent enzymes called selenoproteins. These specialized enzymes minimize the amount of damaging free radicals that go around your system and destroy healthy cells. Free radicals lead to heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions when they build up in your system. By meeting your selenium requirement, you’ll help better protect your body from these serious illnesses.
Amount in Oysters and Recommendation
Six raw oysters, weighing 3 ounces, provide nearly 54 micrograms of selenium. This is almost 100 percent of your recommendation of 55 micrograms per day, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. You do need a little more selenium when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, though. In these cases, you should get 60 micrograms and 70 micrograms each day, respectively.
When you don’t have enough selenium in your diet, your immune system can’t function at its best. You’ll be more likely to catch a seasonal bug and get sick. Additionally, people who suffer from cancer, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis often have low levels of selenium in their bodies, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains.
Getting More Selenium
If you’re making a pasta dish with oysters or a seafood stew, add some shrimp or crab meat to the mix to up your selenium intake. Three ounces of shrimp – 10 to 12 small shrimp – give you about 34 micrograms, while 3 ounces of crab meat offer roughly 41 micrograms. Use enriched noodles if you are making pasta. You’ll get another 38 micrograms of selenium. Make couscous as a side for your oyster entree. Couscous has more than 43 micrograms of selenium in a 1-cup cooked serving.
Too Much Selenium
Like other minerals, selenium can be toxic if you go overboard. You’re not likely to get excessive amounts of selenium from your diet alone, but if you take a multivitamin or selenium supplement and then have a large serving of a selenium-rich food like oysters, you could be getting excessive amounts. You shouldn’t have more than 400 micrograms of selenium per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Getting too much selenium can make your hair and nails very brittle, leading to breakage. You could also experience fatigue, irritability, weight loss and rashes. In severe cases, selenium toxicity affects your neurological system.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.