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Selenium essentiality was first discovered in 1957 when Schwartz and Foltz showed that traces of dietary selenium prevent liver necrosis in those fed a diet also deficient in vitamin E. In the 1960s and 1970s epidemiological data began to demonstrate that selenium also possesses anti-carcinogenic activity. Since the discovery that GLUTATHIONE PEROXIDASE (GSH) is a seleno-enzyme, a total of 18 seleno-enzymes or seleno-proteins have been discovered.


200µg one to three times daily. Selenium is safe at the level people typically supplement (100-200µg); however, taking more than 900µg of selenium per day has been reported to cause adverse effects in some people. Intakes of 75 per day may result in biochemical abnormalities. Much higher levels may produce similar symptoms to that of deficiency.

Potential applications

Selenium has a broad range of activities and potential applications including; cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, male infertility, foetal health and development, thyroid regulation, anti-viral (particularly Coxsackie virus), HIV, elevated cholesterol (LDL), inflammatory conditions e.g. psoriasis and asthma. Other responsive conditions include auto-immune disorders, (e.g. Multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis), cataracts and acne.

Known contraindications

None known.


Copper and selenium appear to interact, with copper deficiency giving rise to decreased activity of GSH. Many toxic elements such as; lead, cadmium, mercury, and gold possess selenium-antagonistic properties. Selenium also interacts with the amino acid methionine. Dietary selenium is found as selenomethionine. Thus the potency of selenium in this form may be reduced if a situation of methionine deficiency exists. Supplemental seleno-methionine helps overcome this concern. Deficiency of both vitamin E and selenium has been shown to increase markers of free radical damage on polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Use in conjunction with

  • Cellular protection - vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, flax seed oil, blue food blend


Selenium deficiency in humans is known as Keshan's disease. This condition results in dry flaky skin, loss of hair and skin pigmentation, whitening of nail beds, bilateral muscle discomfort, and pain, and cardiomyopathy. Thyroid and reproductive problems are common, along with the appearance of the Coxsackie virus.


© Cheryl Thallon at Viridian

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