ChatGPT Answers Selenium Health Benefits Question

How does ChatGPT answer the question: what are the health benefits of selenium supplementation in Europe? Earlier this month, we posed that question to the free version of ChatGPT. We focused on Europe because the selenium intakes in the United States are generally much higher than the selenium intakes in many parts of Europe [Alehagen 2022].

ChatGPT and selenium supplementation
ChatGPT links selenium supplementation to antioxidant protection, cancer prevention, heart health, immune function, and thyroid function. Important to talk with a health professional about selenium intakes and the need for selenium supplementation.

First, ChatGPT explained that selenium is an essential trace element. It plays an important role in physiological processes in the body. It is a necessary component in selenoproteins. These selenoproteins have antioxidant properties. They help regulate immune system function, thyroid function, and DNA synthesis.

Next, ChatGPT reminded that excessive intake of selenium can lead to toxicity. Selenium supplementation should be undertaken under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Note that the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023 and the European Food Safety Authority both set the tolerable upper intake level at 255 mcg/day [Blomhoff 2023; EFSA 2023]. read more

Selenium and Selenoproteins and Viral Infections

Selenium is an essential micronutrient. Humans cannot synthesize it. Therefore, we must get it from our diets. The selenium content of our diets depends on the richness or poorness of the selenium in the soil and the food. In fact, there are surprisingly large differences in selenium content in various regions of the world [Zhang 2020a].

Woman sneezing
Selenium deficiency and reduced selenoprotein expression have been associated with the pathogenicity of several viruses.

Selenium through its incorporation into 25 known selenoproteins is necessary for a range of biological functions. Zhang et al [2020a] list the following biological functions of selenium and selenium-derived selenoproteins:

  • Antioxidant function
  • Anti-inflammatory function
  • Anti-viral function
  • Cellular redox function
  • Immune cell function
  • Protection of the cardiovascular system
Selenoprotein Functions Relevant to Viral Infections

Selenium and selenium-derived selenoproteins such as the glutathione peroxidases (GPXs), the thioredoxin reductases (TXNRDs), and the endoplasmic-reticulum-associated selenoproteins influence viral pathogenicity. Among other things, these antioxidant selenoenzymes reduce the extent of oxidative stress generated by viral pathogens. Failure to counteract oxidative stress can result in mutations in the viral genome from benign to highly virulent strains [Zhang 2020a]. read more