Is It True That Selenium Prevents Aging?

The body needs selenium, an essential trace mineral, for a variety of processes. Selenium may provide anti-aging benefits and may offer protection against age-related diseases, according to recent studies. In this article from Honest Nutrition, we examine the most recent studies looking at how selenium affects aging.

Because selenium is a trace mineral, the body only needs extremely little amounts of it. It can be found as a dietary supplement in addition to being naturally contained in a variety of foods. Though the thyroid has the highest concentration of selenium in the body, the bulk of it is kept in muscle tissue.

The metabolism of thyroid hormones, DNA synthesis, and reproduction all depend on selenium-containing enzymes and proteins, or selenoproteins. Additionally, selenoproteins function as potent antioxidants that assist the body to fend off harmful molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that the body naturally produces as a result of its everyday operations. DNA and cell membranes are harmed by them. This over time can result in inflammation, early skin aging, and several age-related disorders.

Advantages Of Selenium Against Aging

In addition to immune system alterations, metabolic imbalance, molecular damage, and increased vulnerability to illness and environmental stresses, biological aging is a complicated process. Selenium helps prevent age-related health problems like tumors, cardiovascular disease, and neuropsychiatric disorders, according to a 2018 analysis. Additionally, some scientists think selenium helps lessen aging-related chronic inflammation.
Many of the health advantages of selenium are thought to be predominantly due to selenoproteins, according to some studies. For instance, a 2021 study discovered that selenoproteins play a crucial part in managing and getting rid of misfolded proteins, which build up as we age. The buildup of misfolded proteins, according to experts, is a prevalent feature of aging and age-related disorders like type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
The antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and thioredoxin reductase (TDR), which depend on selenium, are thought to be stimulated when selenium is present in the skin. TDR is found in the plasma membrane of keratinocytes in the epidermis. This could be able to prevent UV-induced skin aging.
A more recent study from 2020 discovered that longer telomeres are related to higher dietary intakes of selenium. According to this study, people over the age of 45 had 0.42% longer telomere length for every 20 microgram increase in dietary selenium.
The “protective caps” called telomeres, found on the ends of our chromosomes, influence how rapidly cells deteriorate. Telomere length is regarded by some scientists as a useful aging indicator. Additionally, scientists think that selenium intake is related to lifespan. Older persons with low selenium levels had a greater all-cause death rate than elderly people with high selenium levels.
For instance, compared to other elderly persons, centenarians frequently appear to have greater systemic levels of selenium and iron while having lower amounts of copper. It is significant to highlight that the results are still inconclusive and that further study is required. According to research, like the one mentioned above, low amounts of selenium may even increase lifespan.

Added Health Advantages

Additionally, selenium could be crucial in preventing several age-related illnesses.

Heart Problem

Meta-analysis oneAccording to Trusted Source, coronary heart disease is more likely to strike those with low selenium levels. Selenium, on the other hand, had no statistically significant impact on both fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events, according to a Trusted Source analysis of studies that employed selenium supplementation as the exclusive method of heart disease prevention.
There is not enough evidence to recommend the routine use of selenium supplements, especially in people who already acquire enough through diet to avoid heart disease, despite some encouraging research.

2. Cancer

Due to its capacity to shield cells from DNA damage and mutations, selenium is thought to have a potential function in cancer prevention. The evidence for this, meanwhile, is still ambiguous.
There is no conclusive evidence to support the idea that selenium from diet or supplementation prevents cancer in people, according to a 2018 assessment of 83 studies.
Several studies indicate that selenium supplementation may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes and non-melanoma skin cancer.

3. Thyroid Problem

Selenium is essential for thyroid health. According to research, having enough selenium levels helps guard against thyroid disorders and maintain general health. To learn if selenium supplements help cure or prevent thyroid illness, more study is required, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements

Mental Deterioration

Selenium deficiency or borderline serum concentrations may be linked to age-related impairments in brain function since serum selenium levels diminish with aging. Experts speculate that the antioxidant properties of selenium may be to blame. If selenium supplementation can assist cure or prevent age-related cognitive impairment in older persons, additional investigation is still required.

Should I Use a Supplement With Selenium?

Overall, the evidence on selenium supplementation and its impact on aging is still ambiguous. The majority of research indicates to selenium supplementation has anti-aging characteristics and avoids disorders associated with aging, according to the 2018 review mentioned above. However, additional research is required to define its function.
There isn’t any conclusive proof yet that selenium supplementation helps someone who isn’t at risk for insufficiency. Due to the selenium-rich soil across North America, selenium deficiencies are uncommon in the United States.
Nevertheless, some populations are susceptible to selenium deficiency, including:
  • Individuals with HIV
  • Those who need hemodialysis due to renal failure
  • Those who reside in areas with low levels of selenium, such as various nations in Europe, Russia, and China.
People who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet and reside in low-selenium locations are in even greater danger. Lack of selenium can make cells less able to divide and develop, which speeds up cellular aging. Additionally, it can cause color loss, cataract formation, and a delay in the healing of wounds.

Sources Of Food

Selenium needs for humans typically total 55 micrograms (mcg) per day. However, pregnant women should take 60 mcg. Selenium needs to be increased to 70 mcg during breastfeeding. Since selenium is not produced by the human body, it must be consumed at enough levels in the diet to have a positive impact on general health.
Fortunately, selenium may be found in a wide range of foods that are simple to include in a person’s diet. Since selenium is an element of soil, the quantum of selenium in food depends on the quantum of selenium in the soil where the food was grown.
Among the foods that have the most selenium in the diet include organ meats, Brazil nuts, and shellfish. One ounce of Brazil nuts, for instance, contains 544 mcg of selenium, or 989% of the suggested Daily Value (DV).
Other excellent food sources of selenium are:
  • Tuna yellowfin
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Beef
  • Ham
  • Shrimp
  • Cheese cottage
  • Dark rice
  • Uncooked eggs
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Beans/lentils.

Potential Dangers

A person may have negative health consequences if they continuously consume more selenium than the recommended daily allowance of 400 mcg through food or supplements. An overabundance of selenium can cause a metallic taste in the mouth and a garlic-like odor on the breath.
Additional indications of persistently high selenium consumption include:
  • hair and nail brittleness or loss
  • Skin blemishes
  • Decayed or rubbed teeth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability.
Megadoses of selenium can cause acute selenium poisoning, which can cause severe neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms, renal failure, heart failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and in some cases, death.


Selenium is a crucial mineral that the body needs for a variety of vital processes. Limited research has also suggested that it could have several health advantages. Selenoproteins are potent antioxidants that can aid in preventing damage from free radicals, which can cause premature aging and age-related diseases.
There’s presently no evidence that selenium supplementation can delay or stop growing. Selenium does, still, play a part in scavenging free revolutionaries and lowering inflammation, both of which can quicken to age, therefore it’s pivotal to consume the recommended situations in the diet. Consult your doctor if you think you may be deficient in selenium or if you’re thinking about taking supplements.

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