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Selenium Supplements Might Give Modest Benefit Against Cholesterol
Date:5/17/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- A daily dose of the antioxidant selenium doesn't appear to elevate "bad" cholesterol levels, and may in fact prompt a very modest boost in "good" cholesterol, a new British study reveals.

The finding comes from a six-month examination of the impact of various dosages of the supplement on the cholesterol levels of healthy people in England.

"The issue is that there have been an awful lot of studies, about eight, that have looked at blood cholesterol, both good and bad, and have found an association with high blood selenium," said study author Margaret P. Rayman, a professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. But an association is only that; it doesn't mean one thing causes another.

"So we looked for whether selenium actually causes cholesterol to rise, and we definitively found that there wasn't an adverse effect," Rayman said. "In fact, we can safely and confidently say that, if anything, selenium had a slightly beneficial effect."

However, the safety of selenium has not been studied, and the authors said the findings weren't significant enough to recommend supplementation of the trace mineral. They also noted that the results can't necessarily be applied to Americans, because of differences in the food supply and diets of each country.

For the study, published in the May 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors focused on about 500 healthy British men and women aged 60 to 74 between 2000 and 2001.

Blood tests determined blood selenium, good cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels at the start of the study. For six months, some participants were assigned to take daily selenium yeast supplements in either low, intermediate or high doses, while others were given a dummy pill for the duration.

Noting that blood selenium levels were relat
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