The sixth installment of this blog series focusing on supporting your health and wellbeing will discuss Selenium, an essential trace mineral of fundamental importance. The previous posts of other key nutrients can be found here: Vitamin D, Vitamin C, NAC, Oil of Oregano and Garlic and Glutathione.
Studying the role and importance of Selenium is not a recent endeavour. Dr Rayman’s article in The Lancet in 2000 discussed the essential structural and enzymic roles of Selenium, including as an antioxidant and for the proper functioning of the immune system. Selenium may also play a role in cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and thyroid function (NIH 2020).
Selenium and Immune Function
Selenium effects both the acquired (adaptive) and innate (nonadaptive) immune systems (Arthur, McKenzie and Beckett 2003). Of current interest is Selenium’s critical function in T-cells and macrophages where it provides an antioxidant defense against the reactive oxygen species (ROS) these cells generate, and also has critical functions in endothelial cells.
Zhang and colleagues (2020) have presented, “an association between the reported cure rates for COVID-19 and Selenium status. These data are consistent with the evidence of the antiviral effects of Selenium from previous studies”. The researchers are aware that the association is subject to confounding variables though suggest this warrants further investigation.
Optimising Selenium Levels
In a recent BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health article titled “Nutrition, immunity and COV-19”, Calder (2020) indicates that Selenium is of particular importance in supporting our antiviral defenses and optimal levels to support our immune system are likely in excess of levels that are achieved solely from our diet. Therefore, Selenium supplementation may well be prudent. The best food source of Selenium are brazil nuts (six to eight nuts containing ~544 mcg), with pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs containing high amounts of Selenium.
Preferred manufacturers stocked by Bigvits provide us with Selenium in 100 mcg and 200 mcg doses. To meet our nutritional needs an overall intake from food sources and supplements should equate to 200 to 300 mcg per day.
This blog series is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice or act as a substitute for seeking such advice from a qualified health professional. In order to make the blog series easier to read, I have used a conversational tone in many places with personal pronouns, such as “I” and “you.” This is meant only to make it more pleasant to read, and is not meant to imply that the information constitutes any form of advice, whether personal or general.