Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 Slow Down Telomere Shortening

Anti-aging effects. Longevity.  Telomere length.  Daily supplementation of senior citizens with selenium and Coenzyme Q10 for 42 months slowed down telomere shortening and reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease [Opstad 2022]. The two substances in combination — selenium and Coenzyme Q10 — may be the key to slowing down biological ageing.

What Are Telomeres? Why Are They Important?
Prof Urban Alehagen
The latest sub-study of the KiSel-10 Study data shows that combined selenium and CoQ10 supplementation not only reduces the risk of death from heart disease but also has anti-ageing properties. Pictured here: Professor Urban Alehagen.

Telomeres are the segments of DNA sequences that protect the ends of chromosomes from becoming frayed or tangled. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres become a little bit shorter. When, with increasing age, the telomeres become too short, the cell cannot divide successfully, and the cell dies [National Human Genome Research Institute 2022].

Eventually, the wearing down and the shortening of the telomeres over time results in critically short telomeres. Shortened telomeres are associated with ageing and cardiovascular disease [Opstad 2022].

Accordingly, Prof. Urban Alehagen and a team of researchers conducted a re-analysis of the blood samples from the KiSel-10 Study. Specifically, they wanted to know what the effect of long-term supplementation of elderly citizens with 200 mcg/day of selenium and 200 mg/day of Coenzyme Q10 would be on leukocyte telomere length. Their basic assumption was that leukocyte telomere length would be similar to telomere length in other cells [Opstad 2022].

Note: Leukocytes = white blood cells.

Effect of Selenium and CoQ10 Supplementation on Telomere Length?

At baseline, the researchers did not see any significant difference between the active treatment group and the placebo group in terms of leukocyte telomere length [Opstad 2022].

After 42 months of combined supplementation with selenium and Coenzyme Q10, however, the researchers did see significant differences in the leukocyte telomere length [Opstad 2022]:

  • Leukocyte telomere lengths were significantly longer in the active treatment group compared to the placebo group.
  • The longer leukocyte telomere length in the active treatment group remained statistically significant after the researchers had adjusted the data for such variables as age, diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, sex, and smoking. They wanted to make sure that it was the active treatment and not one of these other possibly confounding variables that affected the length of the leukocyte telomeres.
  • The researchers saw significantly longer leukocyte telomere lengths in the active treatment group in both male study participants and female study participants. There was no significant difference in leukocyte telomere attrition between sexes.
Who Were the Sub-Study Participants?

The study participants in this KiSel-10 sub-study were Swedish citizens, aged 70-80 years and with low serum selenium levels at the start of the study.

The study period comparing the effect of combined selenium and CoQ10 treatment with placebo treatment was 4 years, with 10 years’ follow-up time.

The researchers quantified the leukocyte telomere length at baseline and after 42 months.

Conclusion: Selenium and CoQ10 Treatment Affects Telomere Length

The researchers concluded that selenium and CoQ10 supplementation over a 42-month period is associated with a slowing down of leukocyte telomere shortening as well as with reduced cardiovascular mortality [Opstad 2022].


Alehagen U, Johansson P, Björnstedt M, Rosén A, Dahlström 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 Sep 1;167(5):1860-6.

National Human Genome Research Institute. Telomere. 2022. Retrieved from:

Opstad TB, Alexander J, Aaseth JO, Larsson A, Seljeflot I, Alehagen U. Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 intervention prevents telomere attrition, with association to reduced cardiovascular mortality—sub-study of a
randomized clinical trial. Nutrients. 2022;14:3346.

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

28 August 2022

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