Selenium supplements in adults with high cholesterol

Researchers in the US and UK investigated the effect of selenium on lipid blood levels.

First, the details.

  • 501 adults were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 6 months.
    • Selenium 100 mcg/day as high-selenium yeast
    • Selenium 200 mcg/day as high-selenium yeast
    • Selenium 300 mcg/day as high-selenium yeast
    • Yeast-based placebo
  • Total and HDL (good) cholesterol concentrations were measured at the start of the study and at 6 months.
  • Non-HDL cholesterol levels were also calculated.

And, the results.

  • The average blood level of selenium was 89 ng/gram and increased significantly in the treatment groups.
  • The change in total cholesterol levels for selenium compared with placebo was significant.
  • There were similar reductions in non-HDL cholesterol levels.
  • There was no difference in the change in HDL cholesterol levels with 100 and 200 mcg of selenium per day, but the difference was significant for 300 mcg of selenium per day.
  • The total-HDL cholesterol ratio significantly decreased progressively with increasing selenium dose.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Selenium supplementation seemed to have modestly beneficial effects… [in] persons with relatively low selenium status.”

However, they continue, “The clinical significance of the findings is unclear and should not be used to justify the use of selenium supplementation as additional or alternative therapy for dyslipidemia. This is particularly true for persons with higher selenium status.”

6/23/11 20:25 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.