Jun 17, 2011

MedicalConspiracies- Selenium and Multiple Sclerosis

Selenium and Multiple Sclerosis

What Do Antioxidants Do For Us?    


By , About.com Guide

Updated May 14, 2008

About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board

I used to think nothing of going to the health-food store a couple of times a year and grabbing one of the bottles of “high potency” multivitamin and mineral supplements. I would take these religiously for about four days, occasionally for the next week, then forget about them completely. I was partially drawn in by the advertisements claiming that the product was “loaded with antioxidants to stimulate the immune system.” Yikes.

I am a fan of antioxidants, especially those that we get through food. For those of us who might eat things that don’t so closely resemble food as they do a bunch of chemicals or laboratory formulations to taste good, it might be a good idea to consider an antioxidant supplement, as they really help us in so many ways. However, it is very important that this supplement not contain huge amounts of any of the antioxidants, including selenium, as this theoretically could stimulate the already overactive immune systems of those of us withmultiple sclerosis (MS). Again, this is theoretical…

Why Should We Care About Selenium?

The results are mixed. In one Finnish study, the selenium levels in the blood of people with MS was lower than in that of people without MS, and in another study low selenium levels were found in the erythrocytes (red blood cells) of people with MS. However, other studies have found normal, or even higher, levels of selenium in the blood of people with MS.

What Is It For?

Selenium is an essential mineral that is found in trace amounts in the body. It is an antioxidant. Some experts think that “oxidative stress” caused by free radicals plays a role in MS.

How Does It Work?

Here’s a quick explanation: When the cells in our bodies use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron. They can cause damage to cells in our bodies as they seek to “steal” electrons from other molecules. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body, by “donating” one of their molecules to make the free radical stable.

How Effective Is It?

In one study of animals with EAE, the animal model of MS, selenium supplementation worsened their disease and increased mortality. A small (18 people), short (5 weeks) study examined the effects of selenium supplementation on people with MS. It improved the levels of selenium in the erythrocytes, but failed to show any clinical benefit. Again, the study was too small and too short to yield any definitive conclusions.

Usual Dosage/How Taken

Selenium can be taken in pill or capsule form (either alone or in combination with other antioxidants) in dosages up to 200 micrograms daily. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 55 mcg for adult women and 75 mcg for men.