Selenium Exposure Studies

Selenium exposure in the diet and in supplements: in this review article, we summarize the key outcomes of the best selenium exposure studies.

Optimal Selenium Intake and Status

In his review of the available research literature, Professor Urban Alehagen, Linköping University, Sweden, concluded that a daily intake of 100–150 mcg of selenium per day is required.

This is the intake level that enables an optimal expression of the important selenoprotein P that transports selenium from the liver to peripheral tissues [Alehagen 2022].  For other selenoproteins to be optimized, i.e., to be fully expressed, Prof. Alehagen argues that selenium status of approximately 120 mcg/L when measured in red blood cells is necessary [Alehagen 2022]. read more

Serum Selenium Levels Predict Breast Cancer Prognosis

Research done in southern Sweden shows that three blood biomarkers of selenium availability correlated inversely with mortality from breast cancer. The lower the three selenium biomarker levels, the higher the mortality [Demircan 2021].

Breast cancer awareness
Assessment of selenium status at the time of breast cancer diagnosis identifies patients at exceptionally high risk for a poor prognosis. They are breast cancer patients with low levels of selenium, selenoprotein P, and glutathione peroxidase in their blood.

The blood biomarkers are:

  • Total selenium
  • Selenoprotein P
  • Glutathione peroxidase 3

Breast cancer patients with blood concentrations of these three selenium biomarkers in the highest quintile had significantly better chances of survival compared with patients whose blood levels of these substances were in the lowest quintile [Demircan 2021].

Breast cancer patients with low selenium status according to these three biomarkers had the highest mortality risk with an overall survival probability of approximately 50% after 8 years. The difference in survival between the breast cancer patients in the lowest selenium quintile compared to breast cancer patients with at least one biomarker in the highest quintile was especially notable [Demircan 2021]. read more

Impact of Selenium Status on Ageing

Selenium is an essential trace element. Essential means that sufficient selenium is necessary for normal cell functioning and that our bodies cannot synthesize selenium for us. We must get it from our diets. Trace element means selenium is a micronutrient that is needed in very small quantities, in microgram quantities. It may be an important element to slow the ageing process.

Elderly couple
Selenium as a component in protective enzymes helps to keep us healthier longer in life. It helps to suppress oxidative stress and to decrease inflammation, to remove misfolded proteins, to decrease DNA damage, and to promote telomere length.

Sufficient selenium status plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and infections. Prof. Margaret P. Rayman, University of Surrey, estimates that serum/plasma selenium status of around 125 mcg/L is optimal for human health [Rayman 2020].

The beneficial work of selenium in the cells and tissues is done by selenoproteins that contain the amino acid selenocysteine in the active center. Among the selenoproteins known to have an antioxidant effect in the body are the glutathione peroxidases (GPX1-4 and GPX6) and the thioredoxin reductases (TXNRD1-3) [Alehagen 2021]. read more

Selenium and Immune Function and DNA Repair

Selenium is a trace element essential for for DNA repair, for  good immune function, and for reduced mortality risk.

DNA double helix
Cell studies, animal models, and human clinical trials suggest that an optimal supply of selenium is required to enhance the process of DNA damage repair.

The Micronutrient Information Center maintained by staff members at the Linus Pauling Institute of the Oregon State University provides reliable information about the vitamins and minerals and trace elements used in nutritional supplements.

Today, I want to summarize the information that the Center provides about selenium and supplement that information with the latest scientific research.

An Introduction to Selenium and Selenoproteins

Selenium is a trace element that is essential that humans need for the proper functioning of selenium-dependent selenoproteins. Free selenium is rare in the body. Instead, the selenium in the body is typically a component of selenomethionine, selenocysteine, and methyl-selenocysteine. read more