Selenium Smoothie: A Light Energy Boost or Recovery Drink

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the importance of selenium in the diet, but somehow I didn’t get around to posting this recipe to accompany it. (See Love Brazils? Beware Potential Selenium Overload!) I think I was concerned I was posting too many smoothie recipes and not enough juicing ones!

This is a simple, light smoothie, but as always bear in mind my smoothie recipes are mostly meant to be meal replacements, energy boosts or recovery shakes. They contain protein, electrolytes, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and are healthier alternatives to sugary, chemical-laden snacks and so-called energy bars and drinks.

The Brazils in this smoothie contain selenium, healthy fats and B vitamins, while the wheatgrass powder also contains selenium, B Vitamins including B6 and B12, Vitamins A, C, E and K (essential for bood clotting and bone health). Banana contains potassium for a healthy heart and B vitamins, the chia seeds are full of healthy nutrients including protein and omega fats, oats have magnesium to prevent cramping muscles and keep us calm. Dates are good sources of fibre, minerals including iron, calcium, copper and zinc, and Vitamins A, B, C and K.


1 Ripe Banana

2 Tbsps Gluten-Free Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

3 Brazil Nuts

1 Medjool Date, pitted

1 Glass Coconut Water

1 Tsp Wheatgrass Powder

Soak the oats and chia seeds in the coconut water in the blender for 20 minutes for improved digestion and absorption, then blend with all the other ingredients.


Copyright: Chris McGowan

Love Brazils? Beware Potential Selenium Overload!

I got a shock the other day. I have been vegetarian for 40 years and was confident I was never short of any essential vitamins or minerals. I paid attention to what I ate, rarely ate junk food and took supplements when I felt the need. All tests have always come back normal. Since becoming vegan a year ago, I have researched which areas of my diet may need more rigorous attention and apart from a B12 supplement, I decided it was far better to eat a balanced, plant-based diet than to buy expensive supplements that I may or may not need and may or may not absorb on the off-chance that I may become slightly deficient.

 I had read that a good source of Selenium for vegans was Brazil nuts. Fantastic, I thought, I love Brazil nuts. They became my favourite morning snack. I would eat at least 6 and maybe 10 a day.

When I decided to research and write a series of posts on essential vitamins and minerals, I read about Selenium in a little more detail. That’s when I got the shock.

The BDA – the association of British Dieticians – recommends eating only 1-2 Brazil nuts a day and no more than 3-4 due to the possibility of Selenium toxicity!

The Adult RDA for Selenium is 55mcg (micrograms) with an upper limit of 400mcg.

I was consuming about 30g of Brazil nuts, which is approximately 575mcg of Selenium per day!


(100g of Brazil nuts per month provides the requisite amount).

Selenium is required for healthy thyroid function, to strengthen the immune system, protect cells from damage, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The amount of Selenium in our foods has depleted due to poor quality soil and contaminated water and varies considerably according to where you live.

However, studies conducted on vegans in the UK, Germany, US and New Zealand (the latter has very low levels of selenium in the soil) showed that the majority were taking adequate amounts of Selenium.

Symptoms of Selenium toxicity include:

Hair loss, fatigue, irritability, white spots on nails, gastrointestinal disorders and neurological damage.

Stopping the excess Selenium and drinking lots of water usually reverses the damage.

Fortunately, I seem to have avoided these problems but I will miss my favourite snack.

Sources of Selenium:

Brazil  Nuts: 30g = 575mcg

Wholewheat Spaghetti 215g = 56mcg

Couscous: 140g = 39 mcg

Shitake Mushrooms 85g = 21 mcg

Wholewheat Flour 30g = 20mcg

Sunflower Seeds 30g = 16mcg

Sources: The Vegan Society

Rich Vegan Foods

Copyright: Chris McGowan