Selenium and Human Immune Health

Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is required for human health. Without adequate selenium in the diet disease is inevitable. Selenium is required because it forms part of a number of important cellular components called selenoproteins, where selenocysteine molecules play a pivotal role in the formation of a functional protein. Severe selenium deficiency results in myopathy of the heart and severe muscle wasting, and evidence for this is found in both humans and animals. When selenium is present in the diet at suboptimal levels, there is a gradual deterioration of health away from optimal function and this can result in disease progression of pre-existing disease. Supplemental dietary selenium, even in those with normal dietary intakes, has been shown to considerably improve immune function. Supplemental selenium has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer is humans, and this may relate to its immune enhancing effects. About 200 micrograms per day selenium is recommended for good health. 

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Rayman, M. P. 2000. The importance of selenium to human health. The Lancet. 356(9225): 233-241

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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