Pharmacokinetics of Oral Selenium-Enriched Yeast Supplements

The Danish researchers Niels Hadrup and Gitte Ravn-Haren have published a comprehensive study of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of selenium obtained from food and from nutritional supplements [Hadrup 2021].

Selenium supplements come in many forms, both organic and inorganic. The advantage of the selenium-enriched yeast preparations is that they contain 20-30 different species of selenium in addition to selenomethionine. Some of these selenium species may have important biological effects.

Here we summarize their findings with respect to selenium in selenium-enriched yeast supplements. We do this for two reasons:

Absorption of selenium from selenium-enriched yeast preparations

In a 2008 paper, researchers reported having given healthy elderly individuals 100, 200 or 300 mcg selenium in a selenium-enriched preparation daily for a period of 5 years. The supplementation resulted in mean plasma levels of 165, 221, and 260 mcg/L, respectively. In the control group, given a placebo for 5 years, the plasma selenium concentration was 92 mcg/L [Ravn-Haren 2008]. read more

The formulation of the high-selenium yeast supplement

Baker’s yeast, the yeast that feeds on sugars in flour and releases the carbon dioxide that makes the bread rise, that is the same yeast that the selenium is organically bound to in the production of high-selenium yeast supplements. In the production process, the selenium is  incorporated into selenium compounds: selenomethionine, methylselenocysteine, selenocysteine and numerous other organic selenium species. The high-selenium yeast supplement gives the best absorption, the best retention, and the best antioxidant, chemopreventive, and immunomodulating support.

We want stability, safety, and bio-availability from our selenium supplement.  The high-selenium yeast supplement – also known as the selenium-enriched yeast supplement – is the best formulation to achieve these goals.

High-selenium yeast supplements are produced using the selenium that has been grown with Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast (baker’s yeast).  Those of us who take a daily high-selenium yeast supplement know that the yeast used in the making of the supplement is dead.  The yeast cells cannot get into our bodies and multiply because they are not alive.

Various forms of selenium supplements

There are both inorganic and organic forms of selenium in commercially available selenium supplements.  There are supplements made with inorganic forms containing selenium salts like sodium selenite and sodium selenate.  Their absorption is not nearly as good as the absorption of the best organic selenium-enriched yeast supplements. read more