Some research suggests that selenium can help to treat or prevent various health conditions, but does selenium work? Some preliminary studies have shown that it may be effective at stimulating the immune system, possibly inhibiting the replication of the HIV virus, and preventing certain types of cancer. However, selenium does not appear to be beneficial for heart health, preventing type 2 diabetes, or arthritis.
Does Selenium Really Work?
You may have heard claims that selenium is effective at treating or preventing a variety of different medical problems. But are these claims really true? This article will address some of the questions you may have about the effectiveness of selenium for various uses, based on scientific evidence that is currently available. This article will address the effectiveness of selenium for the following uses:
Theoretically, selenium may help to stimulate the immune system and may inhibit the replication (copying) of the HIV virus. Some studies have suggested that selenium may slow down the increase of the viral load (the amount of virus in the body) and may increase CD4 cell counts (the immune system cells that HIV attacks). However, other studies have shown no beneficial effects of selenium for these uses. More research is necessary to confirm these findings.
Some people with HIV or AIDS may have problems getting enough selenium, as well as many other nutrients. If you have HIV or AIDS, ask your healthcare provider about ways to make sure your selenium intake is adequate.
Does Selenium Work for Heart Health?
Current scientific evidence suggests that selenium probably doesn't work for heart health. One study showed that selenium (in combination with vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene) does not help prevent heart attacks or heart disease.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 30, 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: Selenium (8/1/2004). NIH Web site. Available at: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/selenium.asp. Accessed January 30, 2008.
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