Selenium and Heart Failure Risk

Cardiologists at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands have published a comprehensive review of the current knowledge about selenium deficiency and the role of selenoproteins in heart failure patients [Al-Mubarak 2021].

Heart failure is a form of heart disease with high morbidity and mortality and with increasing prevalence. It is estimated that there are more than 26 million heart failure patients worldwide. Suboptimal selenium intakes and status adversely affect heart muscle function.

The key points in their review are as follows:

  • Selenium is an essential micronutrient. It is incorporated into 25 different selenoproteins that have many biological functions in the body.
  • Suboptimal selenium intakes and status lead to the impaired cellular synthesis of these selenoproteins and to the diminished function of selenoproteins, which may aggravate oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are associated with greater severity of heart failure.
  • 70% of patients diagnosed with heart failure have suboptimal serum selenium levels (below 100 micrograms per liter).
  • The heart failure patients with suboptimal serum selenium concentrations have lower exercise capacity, lower quality of life, and a worse prognosis than heart failure patients with serum selenium concentrations above 100 mcg/L.
  • Clinical trials of the efficacy of selenium supplementation in patients with heart failure have shown improved clinical symptoms such as improvements in NYHA function class, in left ventricular ejection fraction, and in lipid profile.
Selenium Deficiency and Heart Failure
Observational Studies of Selenium Concentration and Heart Failure

Three meta-analyses have provided evidence of a relationship between selenium status and the risk of heart disease:

Studies of Selenium Supplementation – the KiSel-10 Study

The most interesting clinical study is the KiSel-10 study in which elderly community living citizens, average age 78 years, with low selenium status (mean baseline status: 67.1 mcg/L), were treated with a combination of 200 mcg of an organic high-selenium yeast preparation and 200 mg of Coenzyme Q10 daily for four years.

Studies of Selenium Supplementation and Heart Failure

Two randomized controlled trials conducted with small samples
of heart failure patients are of interest:

Take-home Messages: Selenium Status and Heart Disease
  • There is some evidence that there may be a U-shaped relationship between selenium status and health outcomes, with the optimal serum/plasma selenium status in the range from 100 – 170 mcg/L [Rayman 2012].
  • Most patients with heart failure have serum selenium levels below 100 mcg/L, so supplementation with selenium offers much promise in the treatment of heart failure.
  • Selenium in selenoproteins may confer beneficial heart health effects both locally in the heart muscle tissue and systematically.
  • Selenoproteins may help to restore heart function through several mechanisms including 1) maintaining healthy mitochondria, 2) reducing oxidative stress, 3) having an anti-inflammatory effect, 4) improving immune system function, and 5) reducing endoplasmic reticulum stress.
  • A Penn State University study has shown that supplementation with an organic selenium yeast formulation is associated with significant reductions in biomarkers of oxidative stress whereas a 100% selenomethionine supplement did not show similar reductions, suggesting that selenium species other than selenomethionine account for the decrease in oxidative stress [Richie 2014].

Al-Mubarak, A.A., van der Meer, P. & Bomer, N. Selenium, selenoproteins, and heart failure: current knowledge and future perspective. Curr Heart Fail Rep (2021).

Alehagen U, Alexander J, Aaseth J. Supplementation with selenium and Coenzyme Q10 reduces cardiovascular mortality in elderly with low selenium status. a secondary analysis of a randomised clinical trial. PLoS One. 2016;11(7):e0157541.

Alehagen U, Johansson P, Bjornstedt M, Rosen A, Dahlstrom U. Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation: a 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. Int J Cardiol. 2013;167(5):1860–6.

Bomer N, Grote Beverborg N, Hoes MF, Streng KW, Vermeer M, Dokter MM, et al. Selenium and outcome in heart failure. Eur J Heart Fail. 2020;22(8):1415–23.

Flores-Mateo G, Navas-Acien A, Pastor-Barriuso R, Guallar E.
Selenium and coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin
Nutr. 2006;84(4):762–73.

Garakyaraghi M, Bahrami P, Sadeghi M, Rabiei K. Combination
effects of selenium and coenzyme Q10 on left ventricular systolic
function in patients with heart failure. Iran Heart J. 2015;15(4):6–

Hurst R, Armah CN, Dainty JR, Hart DJ, Teucher B, Goldson AJ,
et al. Establishing optimal selenium status: results of a randomized,
double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr.

Kuria A, Tian H, Li M, Wang Y, Aaseth JO, Zang J, et al. Selenium status in the body and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;1–10.

Loscalzo J. Keshan disease, selenium deficiency, and the selenoproteome. Longo DL, editor. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(18):1756–60.

Raygan F, Behnejad M, Ostadmohammadi V, Bahmani F, Mansournia MA, Karamali F, et al. Selenium supplementation lowers insulin resistance and markers of cardio-metabolic risk in patients with congestive heart failure: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2018;120(1):33–40.

Rayman MP. Selenium and human health. Lancet. 2012;379(9822):1256–68.

Richie JP Jr, Das A, Calcagnotto AM, Sinha R, Neidig W, Liao J, Lengerich EJ, Berg A, Hartman TJ, Ciccarella A, Baker A, Kaag MG, Goodin S, DiPaola RS, El-Bayoumy K. Comparative effects of two different forms of selenium on oxidative stress biomarkers in healthy men: a randomized clinical trial. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Aug;7(8):796-804.

Zhang X, Liu C, Guo J, Song Y. Selenium status and cardiovascular
diseases: meta-analysis of prospective observational studies
and randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70(2):

Zhou, H., Wang, T., Li, Q. et al. Prevention of Keshan Disease by selenium supplementation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Biol Trace Elem Res 186, 98–105 (2018).

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

15 May 2021


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