Selenium boosts immune function

In a British study from the University of Liverpool, researchers looked at whether selenium given to healthy individuals could improve immunity and help the body cope with a polio vaccine. In this double-blind study, 22 adults with low selenium concentrations received 50 or 100 mcg of selenium, or a placebo, daily for 15 weeks. All subjects received a live polio vaccine after six-weeks, and then selenium by IV three weeks later.

The results showed that selenium supplementation did increase cellular immune response through an increased production of “fighting” cells. The subjects taking selenium also showed more rapid clearance of the poliovirus and its by-products from the body.

In a second study at the Pomeranian Academy of Medicine in Poland, selenium was found helpful in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The objective was to examine how selenium influences oxidative stress and levels of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant enzyme. In this study, 31 patients with ovarian cancer undergoing chemotherapy were given a daily selenium dose of 200 mcg. After two or three months, these women showed a significant increase in white blood cells, and a significant decrease of hair loss, flatulence, abdominal pain, weakness and loss of appetite. The researchers concluded that selenium was helpful as an adjunct therapy for women with ovarian cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

Sources: Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; Jul;80(1):154-62; Gynecol Oncol. 2004 May;93(2):320-7