Almost three decades ago, scientists reported observations in Medical Hypotheses suggesting a daily supplemental antioxidant regimen, including high-dose selenium, appeared to slow the progression of visual loss in diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
Supplemental selenium has now been shown to down-regulate vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production both in vivo and in vitro. It’s reasonable to suggest it should be included in multiple vitamins designed for the ophthalmic patient at risk of angiogenesis.
Selenium is also an integral part of glutathione peroxidase (the general name of an enzyme family whose main biological role is to protect the body and eyes from oxidative damage).
Serum selenium levels were found to be significantly lower in patients with Graves orbitopathy compared with patients with Graves disease in a 198-subject Australian study published in the December 2013 issue of Clinical Endocrinology.
Selenium is an element essential for normal growth and development because of the role it plays in the regulation of thyroid hormones, as well as for the role it plays in antioxidant, pro-oxidant balance, iron absorption, and muscle strength.
Selenium interacts with nutrients that affect serum antithyroid peroxidase (TPO).
Selenium supports the activity of vitamin E by limiting the oxidation of lipids. A number of well-designed animal studies now indicate that selenium and vitamin E spare one another and that selenium can prevent some of the damage resulting from vitamin E deficiency.
A study published in the Surgery Neurology Journal also suggests that selenium and vitamin E may lower the risk of brain damage by preventing the free radical destruction associated with severe head trauma.
Another study conducted by Johns Hopkins and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that low serum selenium was associated with anemia among older men and women in the United States. This included those who had anemia from nutritional deficiency (mostly iron), as well has anemia associated with chronic inflammation and renal disease.
A third study conducted in the Tuscany region of Italy and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that seniors with low blood levels of selenium have a significantly higher incidence of weak muscles. These researchers found that participants with the lowest plasma concentrations of selenium were 69 percent more likely to have poor hip strength compared to those with the highest selenium levels.
In addition, the subjects with low selenium were 94 percent more likely to have poor knee strength. This study should be of particular interest to senior runners and all those who include long- distance cycling in their exercise regimen.
Nutritional biochemists always include selenium to biochemically balance formulations that include vitamin E for its antioxidant capabilities. Other minerals that are critical components of antioxidant enzyme activity include zinc, small amounts of copper, and manganese.
Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, and the Biosyntrx staff
The best food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, oysters, fish and whole grains. Biosyntrx multiples, Macula Complete and Oculair both include 100 mcg of the most bioavailable form of selenium, selenomethionine.