Selenium has been touted as an anti-oxidant that may improve a variety of conditions from cold sores to arthritis; there are even a few ongoing studies that are testing it as a cancer preventative.
Fifty-five micrograms per day is the recommended dose for adults, and many people take vitamin supplements containing between 30 and 200 micrograms of selenium. Unfortunately, a recent study by researchers in the UK has shown that selenium supplements may increase risk of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers examined 1,202 patients from areas where people tend to have low selenium blood levels. Six hundred subjects received a daily 200 microgram selenium supplement, and 602 received a placebo. By the end of the study 7.7 years later, 58 of the selenium group and 39 of the placebo group had developed type 2 diabetes.
In statistical terms, the risk of developing diabetes was 50 percent higher among the selenium takers; that is, they had one and a half times as much risk as the placebo group. And the higher their blood level of selenium, the greater their risk.
The study authors noted that most people receive adequate selenium from the food they eat and don’t need to take any extra on top of that.
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Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2007