Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore are reporting that taking high doses of selenium may help slightly lower cholesterol levels.
To investigate, researchers recruited about 500 older adults in the UK to take one of three different doses of selenium daily, 100, 200, or 300 micrograms, or a placebo pill with no selenium.
Researchers measured participants' cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study and after six months on the selenium supplements or placebo.
In the groups taking 100 and 200 micrograms of selenium daily, total cholesterol dropped an average of 8.5 mg/dL and 9.7 mg/dL, respectively.
Taking the highest dose of selenium was not linked to decreases in total cholesterol, but it was the only dose associated with an increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol.
The authors reported no serious side effects associated with selenium during the study.
While the results are promising, researchers don't suggest North Americans take extra selenium supplements until further studies are done. Last week study findings from Italian researchers reported that selenium may not reduce the risk of cancer, despite earlier research that suggested otherwise.
These latest findings were reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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