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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Selenium Usage

Written by FoundHealth.


Effect of Selenium on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Though the reason us unknown, selenium has been known to help calm anxiety in some people.

Read more about Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Selenium.

Effect of Selenium on Cervical Cancer

There is some preliminary evidence that selenium supplements might provide some protection against some types of cancer among people living in the US, but this evidence is far from definitive.

Read more about Cervical Cancer and Selenium.

Effect of Selenium on Panic Disorder

Though the reason us unknown, selenium has been known to help calm anxiety in some people.

Read more about Panic Disorder and Selenium.

Effect of Selenium on Hypothyroidism

Read more about Hypothyroidism and Selenium.

Therapeutic Uses

Preliminary studies hint that supplemental selenium may help prevent some forms of cancer ; 1 2 3 4 5 however, this evidence has a long way to go before it can be taken as reliable. ( See below .)

Selenium is required for a well-functioning immune system. 6 Based on this, selenium has been suggested as a treatment for people with HIV . Early studies showed little to no benefit. 7 A large trial reported in 2007 reported that use of selenium supplements reduced viral load. 8 However, this study suffered from numerous flaws in its statistical methods. For reasons that are not clear, another study found that selenium supplements decreased symptoms of psychological anxiety in patients undergoing highly active retroviral therapy (HAART). 9 One study of healthy people in the UK (where marginally low selenium intake is common) found that use of selenium supplements improved general immune function, as measured by response to poliovirus immunization. 10 A preliminary double-blind trial suggests that selenium supplements may improve fertility in males who are selenium deficient. 11 Weak evidence suggests that selenium might be helpful for diabetic neuropathy . 12 Selenium has also been recommended for many other conditions, including acne , anxiety , cataracts , cervical dysplasia , fibromyalgia , gout , multiple sclerosis , osteoarthritis , psoriasis , and ulcers , but there is no real evidence as yet that it is actually helpful.

A small study among nursing home residents found that low levels of the mineral selenium was associated with depression . Moreover, 8 weeks of supplementation tended to improve the mood of the most seriously depressed patients with low selenium levels. 13 The same was not true of the two other nutrients investigated, folate and vitamin C.

Current evidence regarding use of selenium for preventing heart disease is more negative than positive. 14 15 16 17 18 A large (about 500 participants) double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find that use of selenium supplements at 100 mcg, 200 mcg, or 300 mcg daily improved mood or general well-being . 19 A study of 197 people with moderately severe asthma failed to find benefit with selenium (100 mcg daily). 20 Low selenium levels have been associated with increased likelihood of developing certain kinds of rheumatoid arthritis . 21 However, selenium supplements don'tappear to help rheumatoid arthritis once it has developed. 22 Despite hopes to the contrary, it does not appear that selenium supplements can help prevent type 2 diabetes , but rather might increasethe risk of developing the disease. 23


  1. Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW, et al. Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group. JAMA. 1996;276:1957-1963.
  2. Yu SY, Zhu YJ, Li WG. Protective role of selenium against hepatitis B virus and primary liver cancer in Qidong. Biol Trace Elem Res. 56(1):117-24.
  3. National Research Council, Diet and Health. Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1989:376-379.
  4. Hocman G. Chemoprevention of cancer: selenium. Int J Biochem. 20(2):123-32.
  5. Tanaka T, Makita H, Kawabata K, Mori H, El-Bayoumy K. 1,4-phenylenebis(methylene)selenocyanate exerts exceptional chemopreventive activity in rat tongue carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 57(17):3644-8.
  6. Schrauzer GN, Sacher J. Selenium in the maintenance and therapy of HIV-infected patients. Chem Biol Interact. 91(2-3):199-205.
  7. Constans J, Pellegrin JL, Sergeant C, et al. Serum selenium predicts outcome in HIV infection. [letter]. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1995;10:392.
  8. Hurwitz BE, Klaus JR, Llabre MM, Gonzalez A, Lawrence PJ, Maher KJ, Greeson JM, Baum MK, Shor-Posner G, Skyler JS, Schneiderman N. Suppression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 viral load with selenium supplementation: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 167(2):148-54.
  9. Shor-Posner G, Lecusay R, Miguez MJ, Moreno-Black G, Zhang G, Rodriguez N, Burbano X, Baum M, Wilkie F. Psychological burden in the era of HAART: impact of selenium therapy. Int J Psychiatry Med. 33(1):55-69.
  10. Broome CS, McArdle F, Kyle JA, Andrews F, Lowe NM, Hart CA, Arthur JR, Jackson MJ. An increase in selenium intake improves immune function and poliovirus handling in adults with marginal selenium status. Am J Clin Nutr. 80(1):154-62.
  11. Scott R , MacPherson A, Yates RWS, et al. The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol. 1998;82:76-80.
  12. Kahler W, Kuklinski B, Ruhlmann C, et al. Diabetes mellitus—a free radical-associated disease. Results of adjuvant antioxidant supplementation [in German; English abstract]. Z Gesamte Inn Med. 1993;48:223-232.
  13. Gosney MA, Hammond MF, Shenkin A, Allsup S. Effect of micronutrient supplementation on mood in nursing home residents. Gerontology. 54(5):292-9.
  14. Kardinaal AF, Kok FJ, Kohlmeier L, Martin-Moreno JM, Ringstad J, Gómez-Aracena J, Mazaev VP, Thamm M, Martin BC, Aro A, Kark JD, Delgado-Rodriguez M, Riemersma RA, van 't Veer P, Huttunen JK. Association between toenail selenium and risk of acute myocardial infarction in European men. The EURAMIC Study. European Antioxidant Myocardial Infarction and Breast Cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 145(4):373-9.
  15. Korpela H, Kumpulainen J, Jussila E, Kemilä S, Kääriäinen M, Kääriäinen T, Sotaniemi EA. Effect of selenium supplementation after acute myocardial infarction. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 65(2):249-52.
  16. Lapenna D, de Gioia S, Ciofani G, Mezzetti A, Ucchino S, Calafiore AM, Napolitano AM, Di Ilio C, Cuccurulo F. Glutathione-related antioxidant defenses in human atherosclerotic plaques. Circulation. 1998;97:1930-1934.
  17. Nève J. Selenium as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. J Cardiovasc Risk. 3(1):42-7.
  18. Salvini S, Hennekens CH, Morris JS, et al. Plasma levels of the antioxidant selenium and risk of myocardial infarction among US physicians. Am J Cardiol. 1995;76:1218-21.
  19. Rayman M, Thompson A, Warren-Perry M, Galassini R, Catterick J, Hall E, Lawrence D, Bliss J. Impact of selenium on mood and quality of life: a randomized, controlled trial. Biol Psychiatry. 59(2):147-54.
  20. Shaheen SO, Newson RB, Rayman MP, Wong AP, Tumilty MK, Phillips JM, Potts JF, Kelly FJ, White PT, Burney PG. Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of selenium supplementation in adult asthma. Thorax. 62(6):483-90.
  21. Knekt P, Heliovaara M, Aho K, et al. Serum selenium, serum alpha-tocopherol, and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis [abstract]. Epidemiology. 2000;11:402-405.
  22. Tarp U. Selenium in rheumatoid arthritis. A review. Analyst. 120(3):877-81.
  23. Stranges S, Marshall JR, Natarajan R, Donahue RP, Trevisan M, Combs GF, Cappuccio FP, Ceriello A, Reid ME. Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 147(4):217-23.


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