Selenium is involved in a number of different metabolic processes and works as an antioxidant, which protects the heart and cardiovascular system, but it is difficult to get enough of the nutrient from the diet. According to a new American mouse study, selenium supplementation can speed up the metabolic processes and protect against overweight. A Swedish study of seniors published some time ago showed that supplements of selenium and Q10 has a positive effect on quality of life and lifespan.
Many different diets have been proven to control body weight, improve health, and increase lifespan. A simple method that is tested on mammals is to limit their intake of the essential amino acid methionine. It appears that methionine limitation has a similar effect on humans but there are other factors involved. Methionine is primarily found in animal products. However, most of us don’t benefit from reducing our methionine intake by shifting to vegetarian diets, because this increases our risk of lacking other essential nutrients.
Selenium supplements help you maintain your weight
The new study was carried out by scientists from Orentreich Foundation for the Advancement of Science (OFAS), Cold Spring, New York, USA. The aim of the study was to improve the daily diet and obtain the same health benefits as you get by reducing your methionine intake, only without restricting the intake of meat and other animal foods.
The scientists were aware that dietary methionine restriction lowers levels of IGF-1, also known as insulin growth factor-1. If other treatments could lower levels of IGF-1, one would most likely obtain the same positive effect on health and lifespan.
Earlier studies have shown that selenium supplementation lower levels of circulating IGF-1 in rats, and that is why the researchers figured that selenium supplements would be the obvious choice. They divided the rats into three groups. All rats were fed a calorie-rich and fattening diet.
In addition to this, one group of rats (the control group) got normal levels of methionine, while the second group got normal amounts of methionine combined with selenium, and the third group of rats got less methionine.
The scientists observed that the rats that got selenium completely avoided the weight increase and fat accumulation in the bloodstream that was seen in the control group. The rats that were fed selenium also had the same health benefits as the rats that got less methionine.
What the scientists also found was that the selenium-supplemented rats had lower levels of IGF-1 in their blood. The study suggests that selenium supplementation is associated with the same positive health benefits as methionine restriction, while making it possible to eat a normal, balanced diet that contains more nutrients.
Considering that selenium offers so many health benefits in rodent studies even in terms of preventing weight gain, the scientists hope that selenium supplementation will turn out to have a similar effect on humans and even help increase lifespan.
The new study is published in eLife.
Supplements of selenium and Q10 can reduce mortality by over 50%
Several studies have shown that people who take selenium have many health benefits. This is because selenium support around 25 different selenium-dependent enzymes (selenoproteins) that are important for metabolic processes and work as antioxidants that protect cells and tissues.
A study worth mentioning is the Swedish KiSel-10 study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial where selenium and coenzyme Q10 in combination was given to a large group of healthy seniors for several years. The reason why the scientists gave both nutrients is that coenzyme Q10 needs selenium in order to function optimally in the cellular energy turnover.
Because the European agricultural soil lacks selenium and because the body’s endogenous coenzyme Q10 synthesis decreases with age, older people can easily become deficient of both compounds. The participants received 200 micrograms of selenium yeast and 200 milligrams of pharmaceutical-grade coenzyme Q10, or placebo. The study lasted around five years and showed that the supplemented group had 54% lower cardiovascular mortality and a substantially lower hospitalization rate.
A 12-year follow-up study showed that selenium and Q10 have a long-term effect on heart function and lifespan. One could probably expect to see an even greater effect if people continued taking the supplements.
|The KiSel-10 study is unique in that it looks at healthy people and what it takes to keep them in good health.|
Jason D. Plummer et al. Selenium supplementation inhibits IGF-1 signaling and confers methionine restriction-like healthspan benefits to mice. eLife, 2021
elife. Selenium supplementation protects against obesity and may extend lifespan. ScienceDaily, March 2021
Le Han et al. Dietary methionine restriction improves the impairment of cardiac function in middle-aged obese mice. Food & Function. 2020
Alehagen U, et al. Cardiovascular mortality and N-Terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Int J Cardiol. 2012
Urban Alehagen et al. Still reduced cardiovascular mortality 12 years after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years. A validation of previous 10-years follow-up results of a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in elderly. PLOS ONE 2018