Health benefits of selenium

Selenium and cancer
  • Several research reports indicate the inverse relationship between blood levels of selenium and mortality from cancer including lung, colorectal, prostate and skin cancer. Laboratory studies indicate the potentially beneficial role of selenium in the management of mammary cancer
  • Based on epidemiological data, a lower antioxidant status has been linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases due to increased levels of LDL oxidation. Selenium is one of the antioxidants that may help to inhibit LDL oxidation
Selenium and antioxidant activity
  • The national academy of sciences (NAS) released a report on April 11th reviewing the emerging science of antioxidants and their potential for disease protection. The Council for responsible nutrition concludes that while there is not enough scientific evidence to permit recommended intakes based on disease prevention, the wide range of safe intakes for antioxidant vitamins is approved. It issued higher recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for vitamins C and E. The new RDAs for antioxidant nutrients are: vitamin C (75 milligrams (mg) for women and 90 mg for men), vitamin E (15 mg), and selenium (55 micrograms (μg))
  • The report stated that there is “reason to expect that the antioxidant vitamins (C and E) should decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.” The report concluded that vitamin E does inhibit LDL oxidation (a causative agent for cardiovascular disease) and could also affect the health of arteries in other ways. The report also noted that it is reasonable to expect that vitamin C would reduce oxidative damage to the eye, thus lessening the risk of cataracts and other conditions
  • The NAS report also established tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for vitamin C (2,000 mg), vitamin E (1,000 mg) and selenium (400 μg). ULs for adults are set to protect the most sensitive individuals of the general population
Selenium and healthy blood sugar levels
  • Selenium is reported to mimic the action of insulin. In the laboratory studies performed in recent years, selenium has been shown to mediate a number of insulin-like actions such as stimulating glucose uptake and regulating metabolic processes including glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, fatty acid synthesis, and the pentose phosphate pathway. Although the exact mechanism of the insulin mimicking action of selenium has as yet to be elucidated, it is reported that these actions are mediated through the activation of key proteins involved in the insulin-signal cascade. Selenium is also reported to play a role in reducing the oxidative stress associated with diabetes, thereby retarding the progression of the secondary complications of diabetes such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and cataracts
  • Low selenium status has been associated with the incidence of arthritis. Preliminary studies indicate the beneficial role of selenium as a free radical scavenger that may delay the progression of arthritis
Selenium and HIV
  • Malabsorption leading to deficiency state has been observed in cases of progression of HIV /AIDS. 24 children with HIV were observed for a period of five years. Those with low selenium levels had a greater risk of mortality
Selenium and CNS
  • Low plasma selenium status has been associated with senility and cognitive decline in the elderly and with Alzheimer’s disease. Selenium supplementation was observed to reduce the severity of epileptic seizures in children. Selenium supplementation is also reported to improve confused and depressed mental states; mental fatigue and anxiety in adults