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Complementary Medicine - Cam

Selenium

Selenium

Uses

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Asthma
100 mcg daily
Asthma involves free-radical damage that selenium might protect against. In one trial, supplementing with sodium selenite (a form of selenium) improved symptoms in some patients.

People with low levels of selenium have a high risk of asthma.1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Asthma involves free-radical damage6 that selenium might protect against. In a small double-blind trial, supplementation with 100 mcg of sodium selenite (a form of selenium) per day for 14 weeks resulted in clinical improvement in six of eleven patients, compared with only one of ten in the placebo group.7 Most doctors recommend 200 mcg per day for adults (and proportionately less for children)—a much higher, though still safe, level.

2 Stars
Atherosclerosis
100 mcg daily
Some doctors recommend that people with atherosclerosis supplement with selenium, which has been shown in one study to help reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

In some studies, people who consumed more selenium in their diet had a lower risk of heart disease.8 , 9 In one double-blind report, people who had already had one heart attack were given 100 mcg of selenium per day or placebo for six months.10 At the end of the trial, there were four deaths from heart disease in the placebo group but none in the selenium group; however, the number of people was too small for this difference to be statistically significant. Some doctors recommend that people with atherosclerosis supplement with 100–200 mcg of selenium per day.

2 Stars
Colon Cancer
200 mcg daily
Selenium appears to protect against a variety of cancers, including colon cancer.

Selenium has been reported to have diverse anticancer actions.12 , 13 Selenium inhibits cancer in animals.14 Low soil levels of selenium, probably associated with low dietary intake, have been associated with increased cancer incidence in humans.15 Blood levels of selenium have been reported to be low in patients with a variety of cancers,16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 including colon cancer.24 In preliminary reports, people with the lowest blood levels of selenium had between 3.8 and 5.8 times the risk of dying from cancer compared with those who had the highest selenium levels.25 , 26

The strongest evidence supporting the anticancer effects of selenium supplementation comes from a double-blind trial of 1,312 Americans with a history of skin cancer who were treated with 200 mcg of yeast-based selenium per day or placebo for 4.5 years, then followed for an additional two years.27 Although no decrease in skin cancers occurred, a dramatic 50% reduction in overall cancer deaths and a 37% reduction in total cancer incidence were observed. A statistically significant 58% decrease in cancers of the colon and rectum was reported.

2 Stars
Depression
100 mcg per day
Selenium deficiency may contribute to depression. Taking selenium can counteract this deficiency and improve depression symptoms.

Less than optimal intake of selenium may have adverse effects on psychological function, even in the absence of signs of frank selenium deficiency. In a preliminary trial of healthy young men, consumption of a high-selenium diet (226.5 mcg selenium per day) was associated with improved mood (i.e., decreased confusion, depression, anxiety , and uncertainty), compared to consumption of a low-selenium diet (62.6 mcg selenium per day.)28 In a double-blind trial, people who had a low selenium intake experienced greater improvement in depression symptoms after selenium supplementation (100 mcg per day) than did people with adequate selenium intake, suggesting that low-level selenium deficiency may contribute to depression.29

2 Stars
Dermatitis Herpetiformis
200 mcg daily
Supplementing with selenium and vitamin E has been shown to correct an antioxidant deficiency common in DH.

A deficiency in the selenium -containing antioxidant enzyme known as glutathione peroxidase has been reported in DH.30 , 31 Preliminary32 and double-blind33 trials suggest that supplementation with 10 IU of vitamin E and 200 mcg of selenium per day for six to eight weeks corrected this deficiency but did not lead to symptom improvement in the double-blind trial.

2 Stars
Edema
230 mcg daily
People with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region who were treated with selenium saw an improvement in quality of life and edema symptoms in one study.

In a preliminary study, individuals with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region were treated with approximately 230 mcg of selenium per day, in the form of sodium selenite, for four to six weeks. A quality-of-life assessment showed an improvement of 59%, and the circumference of the edematous arm was reduced in 10 of 12 cases.34

2 Stars
Heart Attack
100 to 200 mcg daily
Some doctors recommend that people at risk for a heart attack supplement with selenium.
The relation between selenium and protection from heart attacks remains uncertain. Low blood levels of selenium have been reported in people immediately following a heart attack,35 suggesting that heart attacks may increase the need for selenium. However, other researchers claim that low selenium levels are present in people before they have a heart attack, suggesting that the lack of selenium might increase heart attack risk.36 One report found that low blood levels of selenium increased the risk of heart attack only in smokers,37 and another found the link only in former smokers.38 Yet others have found no link between low blood levels of selenium and heart attack risk whatsoever.39 In a double-blind trial, individuals who already had one heart attack were given 100 mcg of selenium per day or placebo for six months.40 At the end of the trial, there were four deaths from heart disease in the placebo group but none in the selenium group (although the numbers were too small for this difference to be statistically significant). In other controlled research, a similar group was given placebo or 500 mcg of selenium six hours or less after a heart attack followed by an ongoing regimen of 100 mcg of selenium plus 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day.41 One year later, six people had died from a repeat heart attack in the placebo group, compared with no heart attack deaths in the supplement group. Despite the lack of consistency in published research, some doctors recommend that people at risk for a heart attack supplement with selenium—most commonly 200 mcg per day.
2 Stars
HIV and AIDS Support
Take under medical supervision: 400 mcg daily
Supplementing with selenium may result in fewer infections, a healthier appetite, and other benefits.

Selenium deficiency is an independent factor associated with high mortality among HIV-positive people.42 HIV-positive people who took selenium supplements experienced fewer infections , better intestinal function, improved appetite, and improved heart function (which had been impaired by the disease) than those who did not take the supplements.43 The usual amount of selenium taken was 400 mcg per day.

Selenium deficiency has been found more often in people with HIV-related cardiomyopathy (heart abnormalities) than in those with HIV and normal heart function.44 People with HIV-related cardiomyopathy may benefit from selenium supplementation. In a small preliminary trial, people with AIDS and cardiomyopathy, 80% of whom were found to be deficient in selenium, were given 800 mcg of selenium per day for 15 days, followed by 400 mcg per day for eight days. Improvements in heart function were noted after selenium supplementation.45 People wishing to supplement with more than 200 mcg of selenium per day should be monitored by a doctor.

2 Stars
Immune Function
100 mcg daily with 20 mg zinc daily
Selenium supplements have been reported to help improve immune function in seniors.

Most,46 , 47 but not all,48 double-blind studies have shown that elderly people have better immune function and reduced infection rates when taking a multiple vitamin-mineral formula. In one double-blind trial, supplements of 100 mcg per day of selenium and 20 mg per day of zinc , with or without additional vitamin C , vitamin E , and beta-carotene , reduced infections in elderly people, though vitamins without minerals had no effect.49 Burn victims have also experienced fewer infections after receiving trace mineral supplements in double-blind research.50 These studies suggest that trace minerals may be the most important micronutrients for enhancing immunity and preventing infections in the elderly.

2 Stars
Infection
100 mcg per day with 20 mg per day of zinc
Selenium supplements have been reported to help reduce infections in elderly people.

Most,51 , 52 but not all,53 double-blind studies have shown that elderly people have better immune function and reduced infection rates when taking a multiple vitamin-mineral formula. In one double-blind trial, supplements of 100 mcg per day of selenium and 20 mg per day of zinc , with or without additional vitamin C , vitamin E , and beta-carotene , reduced infections in elderly people, though vitamins without minerals had no effect.54 Burn victims have also experienced fewer infections after receiving trace mineral supplements in double-blind research.55 These studies suggest that trace minerals may be the most important micronutrients for enhancing immunity and preventing infections in the elderly.

2 Stars
Lung Cancer
200 mcg daily
Selenium, reported to have diverse anticancer actions, has been shown in one study to reduce lung cancer incidence.

Selenium has been reported to have diverse anticancer actions.56 , 57 Selenium inhibits cancer growth in animals.58 Low soil levels of selenium (probably associated with low dietary intake), have been associated with increased cancer incidence in humans.59 Blood levels of selenium have been reported to be low in patients with many cancers,60 , 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 including lung cancer.68 In preliminary reports, people with the lowest blood levels of selenium had between 3.8 and 5.8 times the risk of dying from cancer compared with those who had the highest selenium levels.69 , 70

The strongest evidence supporting the anticancer effects of selenium supplementation comes from a double-blind trial of 1,312 Americans with a history of skin cancer who were treated with 200 mcg of yeast-based selenium per day or a placebo for 4.5 years and then followed for an additional two years.71 Although no decrease in skin cancers occurred, a 50% reduction in overall cancer deaths and a 37% reduction in total cancer incidence was observed. A 46% decrease in lung cancer incidence and a 53% drop in deaths from lung cancer also occurred. These findings were all statistically significant.

2 Stars
Male Infertility
100 mcg daily
In a study of infertile men with reduced sperm motility, supplementing with selenium significantly increased sperm motility.

In a double-blind study of infertile men with reduced sperm motility, supplementation with selenium (100 mcg per day for three months) significantly increased sperm motility, but had no effect on sperm count. Eleven percent of 46 men receiving selenium achieved paternity, compared with none of 18 men receiving a placebo.72

2 Stars
Osgood-Schlatter Disease
150 mcg a day with 400 IU a day of vitamin E
Taking a combination of vitamin E and selenium may help the healing.

Based on the personal experience of a doctor who reported his findings,73 some physicians recommend vitamin E (400 IU per day) and selenium (50 mcg three times per day). One well-known, nutritionally oriented doctor reports anecdotally that he has had considerable success with this regimen and often sees results in two to six weeks.74

2 Stars
Pancreatic Insufficiency
600 mcg, taken under the supervision of a doctor
Taking antioxidant supplements, such as selenium, may lessen pain and prevent pancreatitis recurrences.
There are few controlled trials of antioxidant supplementation to patients with pancreatitis. One small controlled study of acute pancreatitis patients found that sodium selenite at a dose of 500 micrograms (mcg) daily resulted in decreased levels of a marker of free radical activity, and no patient deaths occurred.75 In a small double-blind trial including recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis patients, supplements providing daily doses of 600 mcg selenium, 9,000 IU beta-carotene, 540 mg Vitamin C, 270 IU vitamin E, and 2,000 mg methionine significantly reduced pain, normalized several blood measures of antioxidant levels and free radical activity, and prevented acute recurrences of pancreatitis.76 These researchers later reported that continuing antioxidant treatment in these patients for up to five years or more significantly reduced the total number of days spent in hospital and resulted in 78% of patients becoming pain-free and 88% returning to work.77
2 Stars
Phenylketonuria
Adolescents and adults: 55 mcg daily; for infants and children: 15 to 40 mcg daily, according to age
Selenium deficiency may develop on the PKU diet, and supplementation may help correct this.

People with PKU may be deficient in several nutrients, due to the restricted diet which is low in protein and animal fat. Deficiencies of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs),78 , 79 , 80 selenium ,81 , 82 , 83 , 84 vitamin B12 ,85 and vitamin K may develop on this diet.86

Selenium is important for normal antioxidant function. Research suggests that selenium deficiency and decreased antioxidant activity may contribute to the brain and nerve disorders associated with PKU.87 In two preliminary studies involving selenium-deficient people with PKU, supplementation with selenium in the form of sodium selenite corrected the deficiency,88 whereas supplementation with selenium in the form of selenomethionine did not.89

2 Stars
Prostate Cancer
200 mcg daily
Selenium has been reported to have diverse anticancer actions. Supplementing with this mineral may decrease your prostate cancer risk.

Selenium has been reported to have diverse anticancer actions.90 , 91 Selenium inhibits cancer in animals.92 Low soil levels of selenium (probably associated with low dietary intake), have been associated with increased cancer incidence in humans.93 Blood levels of selenium have been reported to be low in patients with prostate cancer.94 In preliminary reports, people with the lowest blood levels of selenium had between 3.8 and 5.8 times the risk of dying from cancer compared with those who had the highest selenium levels.95 , 96

The strongest evidence supporting the anticancer effects of selenium supplementation comes from a double-blind trial of 1,312 Americans with a history of skin cancer who were treated with 200 mcg of yeast-based selenium per day or placebo for 4.5 years and then followed for an additional two years.97 Although no decrease in skin cancers occurred, a dramatic 50% reduction in overall cancer deaths and a 37% reduction in total cancer incidence were observed. A statistically significant 63% decrease in prostate cancer incidence was reported.98 However, in a follow-up double-blind trial that included 35,533 healthy men, supplementing with 200 mcg per day of selenium for an average of 5.5 years had no effect on the incidence of prostate cancer.99 In another trial, 5,141 men were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or a daily supplement containing 100 mcg of selenium, 120 mg of vitamin C , 30 IU of vitamin E , 6 mg of beta-carotene , and 20 mg of zinc 20 for eight years. Among men with a normal PSA level at the start of the study, there was a statistically significant 48% reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer. Among men with an initially elevated PSA level, the supplemented group had an increased incidence of prostate cancer that was not statistically significant.100

2 Stars
Rheumatoid Arthritis
200 mcg daily
People with rheumatoid arthritis have been found to have lower selenium levels than healthy people. Supplementing with selenium may reduce pain and joint inflammation.

People with RA have been found to have lower selenium levels than healthy people.101 , 102 One103 of two double-blind trials using at least 200 mcg of selenium per day for three to six months found that selenium supplementation led to a significant reduction in pain and joint inflammation in RA patients, but the other reported no beneficial effect.104 More controlled trials are needed to determine whether selenium reduces symptoms in people with RA.

1 Star
Abnormal Pap Smear
Refer to label instructions
Low levels of selenium have been observed in women with cervical dysplasia.

Low levels of selenium 105 and low dietary intake of vitamin C 106 , 107 have been observed in women with cervical dysplasia.

1 Star
Asthma (Vitamin C, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
There is some evidence that a combination of antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help prevent asthma throught to be caused by air pollution.

There is some evidence that combinations of antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help improve symptoms of asthma throught to be caused by air pollution.108 In one double-blind study, 46 Dutch bicyclists were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or 100 mg of vitamin E and 500 mg of vitamin C daily for 15 weeks.109 Lung function was measured before and after each training session on 380 different occasions, and ambient ozone concentrations were measured during each training session. After analysis, researchers concluded that bicyclists with the vitamins C and E blunted the adverse effects of ozone on measures of lung function. In another double-blind study, 17 adults (18 to 39 years old) were randomly assigned to receive either 400 IU per day of vitamin E and 500 mg per day of vitamin C or a placebo for five weeks.110 Tests showing improved measures of lung function led researchers to conclude that supplementation with vitamins C and E inhibited the decline in pulmonary function induced in asthmatics by exposure to air pollutants. Also using a double-blind design, another study of 158 children with asthma living in Mexico City were randomly assigned to receive, a daily supplement containing 50 mg of vitamin E and 250 mg of vitamin C or a placebo.111 Tests results suggested that supplementing with vitamins C and E may reduce the adverse effect of ozone exposure on lung function of children with moderate to severe asthma.

1 Star
Cardiac Arrhythmia
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with selenium may improve many arrhythmias.

Gross deficiency of dietary selenium may cause many heart problems, including arrhythmia. Based on this finding, one author has theorized that correction of low selenium status may improve many arrhythmias, even in the absence of overt deficiency symptoms.112 Controlled research is needed to evaluate this possibility.

1 Star
Cardiomyopathy and Keshan's Cardiomyopathy
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with selenium can correct selenium deficiency, which is believed to be a cause of Keshan’s disease, a form of cardiomyopathy found in China.

Selenium deficiency has occasionally been reported as a cause of cardiomyopathy.113 , 114 Selenium deficiency is the probable cause of Keshan’s disease, a form of cardiomyopathy found in China115 , 116 but only rarely reported in the United States.117 Studies comparing populations in parts of the world other than mainland China have not supported a link between selenium deficiency and DCM,118 , 119 except in Taiwan.120 Moreover, no clinical trials outside of China have explored the effects of supplementation with selenium for people with DCM, nor is there reason to believe that selenium supplementation would help most people outside of China and Taiwan suffering from cardiomyopathy.

1 Star
Childhood Diseases
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with selenium, an antioxidant mineral, supports a healthy immune system and has been found to prevent viral infections.

Selenium is a mineral known to have antioxidant properties and to be involved in healthy immune system activity. Recent animal and human research suggests that selenium deficiency increases the risk of viral infection and that supplementation prevents viral infection.121 , 122 , 123 , 124 , 125 In a controlled trial, children with a specific viral infection (respiratory syncytial virus) who received a single supplement of 1 mg (1,000 mcg) of sodium selenite (a form of selenium) recovered more quickly than children who did not receive selenium.126 While it is possible that childhood exanthemous viral infections might similarly be more severe in selenium-deficient children and helped through supplementation, none of the current research involves these specific viruses.

1 Star
Down’s Syndrome
Refer to label instructions
People with Down’s syndrome may be deficient in selenium. A preliminary study found that antioxidant activity in the body improved when children with Down’s syndrome took selenium.

Blood levels of the antioxidant minerals selenium and zinc were normal in one study of people with Down’s syndrome,127 but others have found selenium128 , 129 and zinc130 , 131 , 132 levels to be low. In some studies more than 60% of patients with Down’s syndrome had low zinc levels.133 , 134 A preliminary study of selenium supplementation in children with Down’s syndrome found that the antioxidant activity in the body improved; however, the implications of this finding on the long-term health of these people is unclear.135 Zinc is critical for proper immune function, and in one preliminary study the majority of patients with Down’s syndrome examined had low zinc levels and low immune cell activity. Supplementation with zinc resulted in improved immune cell activity.136 In preliminary intervention trials, improved immune cell activity was associated with reduced rates of infection in Down’s syndrome patients given supplemental zinc in the amount of 1 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day.137 , 138 A controlled trial, however, did not find zinc, at 25 mg daily for children under 10 years of age and 50 mg for older children, to have these benefits.139 Zinc has other roles in the body; preliminary data have indicated that zinc supplementation, at 1 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day, improved thyroid function in Down’s syndrome patients,140 , 141 , 142 and increased growth rate in children with Down’s syndrome.143

1 Star
Halitosis and Gum Disease
Spray a lotion containing 3.7% citronella in a slow-release formula every morning for six days per week
Selenium is often recommended by doctors to help prevent and treat periodontitis.

Nutritional supplements recommended by some doctors for prevention and treatment of periodontitis include vitamin C (people with periodontitis are often found to be deficient),144 vitamin E , selenium , zinc, coenzyme Q10 , and folic acid .145 Folic acid has also been shown to reduce the severity of gingivitis when taken as a mouthwash.146

1 Star
Hepatitis
100 mg per
In one trial, a combination of alpha lipoic acid, silymarin, and selenium led to significant improvements in liver function and overall health in people with hepatitis C.

A potent antioxidant combination may protect the liver from damage in people with hepatitis C, possibly decreasing the necessity for a liver transplant. In a preliminary trial,147 three people with liver cirrhosis and esophageal varices (dilated veins in the esophagus that can rupture and cause fatal bleeding) caused by hepatitis C received a combination of Alpha lipoic acid (300 mg twice daily), silymarin (from milk thistle ; 300 mg three times daily), and selenium (selenomethionine; 200 mcg twice daily). After five to eight months of therapy that included other “supportive supplements,” such as vitamin C and B vitamins , all three people had significant improvements in their liver function and overall health. Larger clinical trials are needed to confirm these promising preliminary results.

1 Star
High Cholesterol
Refer to label instructions
A double-blind trial found that, in people with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, supplementing with selenium in the form of high-selenium yeast resulted in a small but statistically significant decrease in serum cholesterol.
In a double-blind trial, supplementation with selenium (100 or 200 mcg per day) in the form of high-selenium yeast for six months resulted in a small but statistically significant decrease in serum cholesterol levels, compared with a placebo, in people with moderately elevated cholesterol levels. Selenium in the amount of 300 mcg per day was resulted in a smaller decrease in cholesterol levels that was not statistically significant.148 High-selenium yeast contains one or more unique selenium-containing compounds that are not present in other selenium supplements. Additional research is therefore needed to determine whether other forms of selenium also lower cholesterol levels.
1 Star
Hypothyroidism
Refer to label instructions
Selenium plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. People who are deficient in selenium may benefit from supplementation.

Selenium plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. Severe selenium deficiency has been implicated as a possible cause of goiter.149 Two months of selenium supplementation in people who were deficient in both selenium and iodine was shown to induce a dramatic fall of the already impaired thyroid function in clinically hypothyroid subjects.150 Researchers have suggested that people who are deficient in both selenium and iodine should not take selenium supplements without first receiving iodine or thyroid hormone supplementation.151 There is no research demonstrating that selenium supplementation helps people with hypothyroidism who are not selenium-deficient.

1 Star
Liver Cirrhosis
Refer to label instructions
People with liver cirrhosis often have low selenium levels and a greater need for antioxidants. In one study, selenium improved liver function in people with alcoholic cirrhosis.

Selenium levels have been found to be low in people with liver cirrhosis152 and the need for antioxidants has been found to be increased.153 A small, preliminary trial suggested that 100 mcg per day of selenium may improve liver function in people with alcoholic cirrhosis.154 Larger, double-blind trials of selenium in people with liver cirrhosis are needed.

1 Star
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions
Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which can cause macular degeneration. Selenium protects against oxidative damage and may reduce macular degeneration risk.

Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which in turn can cause macular degeneration.155 Animals given antioxidants —which protect against oxidative damage—have a lower risk of this vision problem.156 People with high blood levels of antioxidants also have a lower risk.157 Those with the highest levels (top 20th percentile) of the antioxidants selenium , vitamin C , and vitamin E may have a 70% lower risk of developing macular degeneration, compared with people with the lowest levels of these nutrients (bottom 20th percentile).158 People who eat fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene , another antioxidant, are also at low risk.159 Some doctors recommend antioxidant supplements to reduce the risk of macular degeneration; reasonable adult levels include 200 mcg of selenium, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 25,000 IU of natural beta-carotene per day. However, a preliminary study found no association between age-related macular degeneration and intake of antioxidants, either from the diet, from supplements, or from both combined.160 Moreover, in a double-blind study of male cigarette smokers, supplementing with vitamin E (50 IU per day), synthetic beta-carotene (about 33,000 IU per day), or both did not reduce the incidence of age-related macular degeneration.161

1 Star
Pre- and Post-Surgery Health
Refer to label instructions
Selenium has an important role in immune function and infection prevention, and supplementing with it may correct a postoperative selenium deficiency.

Selenium is a mineral nutrient with an important role in immune function and infection prevention,162 , 163 , 164 and selenium deficiency has been reported in patients after intestinal surgery.165 A controlled trial of critically ill patients, including some with recent major surgery, found that those receiving daily intravenous selenium injections for three weeks showed less biochemical signs of body stress compared with unsupplemented patients. The amount used in this trial was 500 mcg twice daily for the first week, 500 mcg once daily for the second week, and 100 mcg three times daily for the third week.166

1 Star
Type 1 Diabetes (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
A combination of the antioxidants selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E has been shown to improve diabetic retinopathy.
Because oxidation damage is believed to play a role in the development of diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ), antioxidant nutrients might be protective. One doctor has administered a daily regimen of 500 mcg selenium , 800 IU vitamin E , 10,000 IU vitamin A , and 1,000 mg vitamin C for several years to 20 people with diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ). During that time, 19 of the 20 people showed either improvement or no progression of their retinopathy.167 People who wish to supplement with more than 250 mcg of selenium per day should consult a healthcare practitioner.
1 Star
Type 1 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
Antioxidant nutrients including selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E may combat free radicals associated with diabetic retinopathy.
Because oxidation damage is believed to play a role in the development of diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ), antioxidant nutrients might be protective. One doctor has administered a daily regimen of 500 mcg selenium , 800 IU vitamin E , 10,000 IU vitamin A , and 1,000 mg vitamin C for several years to 20 people with diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ). During that time, 19 of the 20 people showed either improvement or no progression of their retinopathy.168 People who wish to supplement with more than 250 mcg of selenium per day should consult a healthcare practitioner.
1 Star
Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Neuropathy (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
A combination of the antioxidants selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E has been shown to improve diabetic retinopathy.
Because oxidation damage is believed to play a role in the development of diabetic retinopathy, antioxidant nutrients might be protective. One doctor has administered a daily regimen of 500 mcg selenium , 800 IU vitamin E , 10,000 IU vitamin A , and 1,000 mg vitamin C for several years to 20 people with diabetic retinopathy. During that time, 19 of the 20 people showed either improvement or no progression of their retinopathy.169 People who wish to supplement with more than 250 mcg of selenium per day should consult a healthcare practitioner.

How It Works

How to Use It

While the Recommended Dietary Allowance for most adults is 55 mcg per day, an adult intake of 100–200 mcg of selenium per day is recommended by many doctors.

Where to Find It

Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium. Yeast, whole grains, and seafood are also good sources. Animal studies have found that selenium from yeast is better absorbed than selenium in the form of selenite.170

Possible Deficiencies

While most people probably don’t take in enough selenium, gross deficiencies are rare in Western countries. Soils in some areas are selenium-deficient and people who eat foods grown primarily on selenium-poor soils are at risk for deficiency. People with AIDS have been reported to be depleted in selenium.171 Similarly, limited research has reported an association between heart disease and depleted levels of selenium.172 People who are deficient in selenium have an increased risk of developing certain types of rheumatoid arthritis .173

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Selenium enhances the antioxidant effect of vitamin E .

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • Clozapine

    One controlled study showed that taking clozapine can decrease blood levels of selenium, a mineral with antioxidant activity.188 While more research is needed to determine whether people taking clozapine might require selenium supplementation, until more information is available, some health practitioners recommend supplementation.

  • Cortisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .189 , 190 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Dexamethasone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .194 , 195 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Methylprednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .247 , 248 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .251 , 252 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .253 , 254 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduce Side Effects

  • Busulfan

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.174 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.175

  • Capecitabine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.176 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.177

  • Carboplatin

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.178 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.179

  • Carmustine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.180 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.181

  • Chlorambucil

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.182 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.183

  • Cisplatin

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin.184 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.185

  • Cladribine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.186 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.187

  • Cyclophosphamide

    Patients being treated with cyclophosphamide and cisplatin for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.191

  • Cytarabine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.192 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.193

  • Docetaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.203 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.204 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals205 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.206 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.207

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.208 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.209

  • Erlotinib

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.210 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.211

  • Etoposide

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.212 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.213

  • Floxuridine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.214 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.215

  • Fludarabine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.216 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.217

  • Fluorouracil

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.218 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.219 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals220 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.221 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.222

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but the article strongly suggests that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy would be interfered with.223

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.224

  • Hydroxyurea

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.225 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.226

  • Ifosfamide

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.227 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.228

  • Irinotecan

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.229 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.230

  • Lomustine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.231 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.232

  • Mechlorethamine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.233 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.234

  • Melphalan

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.235 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.236

  • Mercaptopurine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.237 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.238

  • Methotrexate

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.239 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.240 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals241 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.242 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.243

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.244 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.245

    Glutathione , the main antioxidant found within cells, is frequently depleted in individuals on chemotherapy and/or radiation. Preliminary studies have found that intravenously injected glutathione may decrease some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as diarrhea .246

  • Polifeprosan 20 with Carmustine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.249 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.250

  • Thioguanine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.255 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.256

  • Thiotepa

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin.257 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.258

  • Uracil Mustard

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.259 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.260

  • Vinblastine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.261 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.262

  • Vincristine

    In one human study, administration of 4,000 mcg per day of a selenium product, Seleno-Kappacarrageenan, reduced the kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.263 The amount of selenium used in this study is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. In another study, patients being treated with cisplatin and cyclophosphamide for ovarian cancer were given a multivitamin preparation, with or without 200 mcg of selenium per day. Compared with the group not receiving selenium, those receiving selenium had a smaller reduction in white blood cell count and fewer chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, hair loss, weakness, and loss of appetite.264

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Support Medicine

  • Docetaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.196 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.197

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.198 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals199 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.200 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.201

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.202 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Valproate

    On the basis of the biochemical actions of valproic acid, it has been suggested that people taking valproic acid should make sure they have adequate intakes of vitamin E and selenium .265 The importance of supplementation with either nutrient has not yet been tested, however.

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Selenium is safe at the level people typically supplement (100–200 mcg); however, taking more than 900 mcg of selenium per day has been reported to cause adverse effects in some people.266 Selenium toxicity can result in loss of fingernails, skin rash, and changes in the nervous system. In the presence of iodine -deficiency-induced goiter , selenium supplementation has been reported to exacerbate low thyroid function.267 Although most research suggests that selenium prevents cancer, one study found an increased risk of a type of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) in people taking selenium supplements.268 The National Academy of Sciences recommends that selenium intake not exceed 400 mcg per day, unless the higher intake is monitored by a healthcare professional.269 In a double-blind study of people who took 200 mcg of selenium per day for several years to prevent recurrences of skin cancer, the incidence of diabetes was higher in people who received selenium (9.7%) than in those who received a placebo (6.5%).270 While this difference was statistically significant, this finding should be considered preliminary, since the study was not originally designed to test whether selenium influences the risk of developing diabetes.

References

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4. Misso NL, Powers KA, Gillon RL, et al. Reduced platelet glutathione peroxidase activity and serum selenium concentration in atopic asthmatic patients. Clin Exp Allergy 1996;26:838–47.

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10. Korpela H, Kumpulainen J, Jussila E, et al. Effect of selenium supplementation after acute myocardial infarction. Res Comm Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1989; 65:249–52.

11. Berger MM, Baines M, Raffoul W, et al. Trace element supplementation after major burns modulates antioxidant status and clinical course by way of increased tissue trace element concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1293–300.

12. Medina D. Mechanisms of selenium inhibition of tumorigenesis. Adv Exp Med Biol 1986;206:465–72.

13. Beisel WR. Single nutrients and immunity. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;35:417–68.

14. Medina D, Morrison DG. Current ideas on selenium as a chemopreventative agent. Pathol Immunopathol Res 1988;7:187–99.

15. Shamberger RJ, Rukoven E, Lonfield AK, et al. Antioxidants and cancer. I. Selenium in the blood of normals and cancer patients. J Natl Cancer Inst 1973;4:863–70.

16. Burney PGJ, Comstock GW, Morris JS. Serologic precursors of cancer: serum micronutrients and the subsequent risk of pancreatic cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49:895–900.

17. Toma S, Micheletti A, Giacchero A, et al. Selenium therapy in patients with precancerous and malignant oral cavity lesions: preliminary results. Cancer Detection Prev 1991;15:491–3.

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26. Salonen J, Salonen R, Lappetelainen R, et al. Risk of cancer in relation to serum concentrations of selenium and vitamins A and E; matched case-control analysis of prospective data. BMJ 1985;290:417–20.

27. Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW, et al. Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. JAMA 1996;276:1957–63.

28. Finley JW, Penland JG. Adequacy or deprivation of dietary selenium in healthy men: Clinical and psychological findings. J Trace Elem Exp Med 1998;11:11–27.

29. Benton D, Cook R. The impact of selenium supplementation on mood. Biol Psychiatry 1991;29:1092–8.

30. Juhlin L, Edqvist LE, Ekman LG, et al. Blood glutathione-peroxidase levels in skin diseases: effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Acta Derm Venereol 1982;62:211–4.

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35. Auzepy P, Blondeau M, Richard C, et al. Serum selenium deficiency in myocardial infarction and congestive cardiomyopathy. Acta Cardiol 1987;42:161–6.

36. Oster O, Drexler M, Schenk J, et al. The serum selenium concentration of patients with acute myocardial infarction. Ann Clin Res 1986;18:36–42.

37. Beaglehole R, Jackson R, Watkinson J, et al. Decreased blood selenium and risk of myocardial infarction. Int J Epidemiol 1990;19:918–22.

38. Kardinaal AFM, Kok FJ, Kohlmeier L, et al. Association between toenail selenium and risk of acute myocardial infarction in European men. Am J Epidemiol 1997;145:373–9.

39. Salvini S, Hennekenes CH, Morris JS, et al. Plasma levels of the antioxidant selenium and risk of myocardial infarction among U.S. physicians. Am J Cardiol 1995;76:1218–21.

40. Korpela H, Kumpulainen J, Jussila E, et al. Effect of selenium supplementation after acute myocardial infarction. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1989;65:249–52.

41. Kuklinski B, Weissenbacher E, Fahnrich A. Coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants in acute myocardial infarction. Mol Aspects Med 1994;15 Suppl:s143–7.

42. Baum MK, Shor-Posner G, Lai S, et al. High risk of HIV-related mortality is associated with selenium deficiency. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 1997;15:370–4.

43. Olmsted L, Schrauzer GN, Flores-Arce M, Dowd J. Selenium supplementation of symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus infected patients. Biol Trace Elem Res 1989;25:89–96.

44. Chariot P, Perchet H, Monnet I. Dilated cardiomyopathy in HIV-infected patients [letter; comment]. N Engl J Med 1999;340:732 (discussion 733–5).

45. Zazzo JF, Lafont A, Darwiche E, et al. Is non-obstructive myocardiopathy (NOMC) in AIDS selenium-deficiency related? In: Neve J, Favier A, eds. Selenium in biology and medicine. W. DeGruyter & Co.: Berlin New York, 1988, 281–2.

46. Pike J, Chandra RK. Effect of vitamin and trace element supplementation on immune indices in healthy elderly. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1995;65:117–21.

47. Chandra RK. Effect of vitamin and trace-element supplementation on immune responses and infection in elderly subjects. Lancet 1992;340:1124–7.

48. Chavance M, Herbeth B, Lemoine A, et al. Does multivitamin supplementation prevent infections in healthy elderly subjects? A controlled trial. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1993;63:11–6.

49. Girodon F, Lombard M, Galan P, et al. Effect of micronutrient supplementation on infection in institutionalized elderly subjects: a controlled trial. Ann Nutr Metab 1997;41:98–107.

50. Berger MM, Spertini F, Shenkin A, et al. Trace element supplementation modulates pulmonary infection rates after major burns: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68:365–71.

51. Pike J, Chandra RK. Effect of vitamin and trace element supplementation on immune indices in healthy elderly. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1995;65:117–21.

52. Chandra RK. Effect of vitamin and trace-element supplementation on immune responses and infection in elderly subjects. Lancet 1992;340:1124–7.

53. Chavance M, Herbeth B, Lemoine A, et al. Does multivitamin supplementation prevent infections in healthy elderly subjects? A controlled trial. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1993;63:11–6.

54. Girodon F, Lombard M, Galan P, et al. Effect of micronutrient supplementation on infection in institutionalized elderly subjects: a controlled trial. Ann Nutr Metab 1997;41:98–107.

55. Berger MM, Spertini F, Shenkin A, et al. Trace element supplementation modulates pulmonary infection rates after major burns: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68:365–71.

56. Medina D. Mechanisms of selenium inhibition of tumorigenesis. Adv Exp Med Biol 1986;206:465–72.

57. Beisel WR. Single nutrients and immunity. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;35:417–68.

58. Medina D, Morrison DG. Current ideas on selenium as a chemopreventative agent. Pathol Immunopathol Res 1988;7:187–99.

59. Shamberger RJ, Rukoven E, Lonfield AK, et al. Antioxidants and cancer. I. Selenium in the blood of normals and cancer patients. J Natl Cancer Inst 1973;4:863–70.

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