Achieving Optimal Plasma Selenium Status

Hurst et al. administered 50-mcg, 100-mcg, or 200-mcg of selenium daily for ten weeks to 119 healthy men and women aged 50–64 years living in the United Kingdom.

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A healthy immune system depends upon an optimal selenium status to promote the bio-synthesis of antioxidant selenoproteins.

The researchers were testing the effect of the different daily dosages on plasma selenium status and plasma selenoprotein P status. They used a pharmaceutical-grade high-selenium yeast preparation with a documented 88.7% absorption [Bügel 2004].

The men and women in the study had a daily dietary selenium intake of approximately 55 mcg/day.  Intakes of selenium in the United Kingdom had fallen from a mean of 60 mcg/day in 1991 to a minimum of 30 to 40 mcg/day in 1995–2000; in 2010, the mean intake was 48–58 mcg/day [Hurst 2010].

Establishing Optimal Selenium Status

In the Hurst study, the mean baseline plasma selenium concentration for all participants in the study was 95.7 +/- 11.5 mcg/L. Ten weeks of daily supplementation led to significantly increased steady-state concentrations as follows:

  • 118.3 +/- 13.1 mcg/L with 50 mcg/day
  • 152.0 +/- 24.3 mcg/L with 100 mcg/day
  • 177.4 +/- 26.3 mcg/L with 200 mcg/L daily.

In the ten weeks, plasma Selenoprotein P increased significantly, as follows, in all selenium intervention groups from an overall baseline mean of 4.99 +/- 0.80 mcg/mL; the selenoprotein P levels seemed to plateau.

  • 6.17 +/- 0.85 mcg/mL with 50 mcg/day
  • 6.73 +/- 1.01 mcg/mL with 100 mcg/day
  • 6.59 +/- 0.64 mcg/mL with 200 mcg/day
Target selenium concentrations

In a  2020 review article, Professor Margaret P. Rayman indicates that a serum selenium concentration of 125 mcg/L seems to be optimal for good health [Rayman 2020, figure 2].


Bügel S, Larsen EH, Sloth JJ, Flytlie K, Overvad K, Steenberg LC & Moesgaard S.  Selenium from a high Se yeast supplement is well absorbed and retained in humans. Metal Ions in Biology and Medicine. 2004;8:206-209.

Hurst R, Armah CN, Dainty JR, Hart DJ, Teucher B, Goldson AJ, Broadley MR, Motley AK, Fairweather-Tait SJ. Establishing optimal selenium status: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):923-31.

Rayman MP. Selenium intake, status, and health: a complex relationship. Hormones (Athens). 2020 Mar;19(1):9-14.

The information presented in this review article is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.

15 November 2021

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