Principal Proposed Uses
Selenium is a trace mineral that our bodies use to produce glutathione peroxidase . Glutathione peroxidase is part of the body's antioxidant defense system; it works with vitamin E to protect cell membranes from damage caused by dangerous, naturally occurring substances known as free radicals.
China has very low rates of colon cancer, presumably because of the nation's low-fat diet. However, in some parts of China where the soil is depleted of selenium, the incidence of various types of cancer is much higher than in the rest of the country. This fact has given rise to a theory that selenium deficiency is a common cause of cancer, and that selenium supplements can reduce this risk.
As we will see, 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.
The official US and Canadian recommendations for daily intake of selenium are as follows:
- 0-6 months: 15 mcg
- 7-12 months: 20 mcg
- 1-3 years: 20 mcg
- 4-8 years: 30 mcg
- 9-13 years: 40 mcg
Males and Females
- 14 years and older: 55 mcg
- Pregnant Women : 60 mcg
- Nursing Women : 70 mcg
In controlled trials of selenium, typical dosages were 100 mcg to 200 mcg daily.
The two general types of selenium supplements are available to consumers are organic and inorganic forms. These terms have a very specific chemical meaning and have nothing to do with "organic" foods. In chemistry, organic means a substance's chemical structure includes carbon. Inorganic chemicals have no carbon atoms.
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.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Selenium?
Somewhat inconsistent evidence suggests that selenium supplements may help prevent cancer.
While this evidence is promising, it has one major flaw. The laws of statistics tell us that when researchers start to deviate from the question their research was designed to answer, the results may not be trustworthy. Currently, other studies are underway in an attempt to validate the findings accidentally discovered in this trial.
- 0-6 months: 45 mcg
- 7-12 months: 60 mcg
- 1-3 years: 90 mcg
- 4-8 years: 150 mcg
- 9-13 years: 280 mcg
Males and Females
- 14 years and older: 400 mcg
- Pregnant or Nursing Women : 400 mcg
Note that these dosages apply to combined dietary and supplemental intake of selenium. When deciding how much selenium it’s safe to take, keep in mind that most adults already receive about 100 mcg of selenium in the daily diet.
Interactions You Should Know About
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -