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Selenium as a trace mineral is important for the body's health in the right amounts. At high enough levels, it has proven to help protect various parts of the body from certain types of cancer, improve fertility in males and acts as an antiviral. When the body is deficient in selenium, it can cause the cognitive abilities of the body being impaired, weakened immune system and in extreme cases death. However, in too high of levels this mineral could put you at risk for type-2 diabetes.
With the increase of selenium supplements being taken today, people are trying to protect themselves from diseases such as cancer. Selenium has been advertised for being good for a number of medical problems according to research. Research has yet to prove completely that these supplements will do as advertised.Studies have been done with a broad range of people from various backgrounds and nationalities. The conclusion has been that selenium supplements are only effective for those with low levels of it in their bodies.
People with the lowest levels of selenium in their bloodstream will benefit the most from taking selenium supplements. Most of the studies though, have been performed in the US and other similar countries where people have good levels of selenium. This means more studies are needed within the cultures with low levels of selenium to know what the actual results will be.
Margaret Rayman, one study's author, from University of Surrey in the UK, states, "The intake of selenium varies hugely worldwide. Intakes are high in Venezuela, Canada, the USA, and Japan, but lower in Europe. Selenium-containing supplements add to these intakes, especially in the USA where 50% of the population takes dietary supplements."
In addition, the genetic background has to be taken into consideration when any study on selenium is performed. Some people are more genetically receptive than others are to the benefits that selenium supplements or proteins containing selenium could provide.
Rayman also states, "The crucial factor that needs to be emphasized is that people whose blood plasma selenium is already122 µg/L or higher - a large proportion of the US population (the average level in American men is 134 µg/L) - should not take selenium supplements. However, there are various health benefits, and no extra risk, for people of lower selenium status (plasma level less than 122 µg/L), who could benefit from raising their status to 130-150 µg/L - a level associated with low mortality."