Selenium is a trace mineral required for human health. The selenium content of the blood varies around the world depending on the selenium content of the soil. Evidence suggests that low intakes of selenium are a cause of mood disorders, possibly because a low selenium intake decreases antioxidant defences in cells. Chronic alcohol consumption is known to cause depletion in blood levels of selenium and also to cause depression. Some researchers have therefore speculated that the depletion of selenium may be cause of the depression associated with chronic drinking. Interestingly, when chronic drinkers abstain from alcohol consumption, their selenium levels return to normal and their depression abates. The low levels of selenium seen in individuals who habitually drink alcohol may be due to low dietary intakes, or may be due to poor absorption, or a combination of both. Supplementation with selenium is an obvious first step to restore blood selenium levels and protect mental health if blood levels are low.
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