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Selenium, the ally that strengthens the immune system against viruses

Selenium, the ally that strengthens the immune system against viruses

February 03, 2022
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For our immune system to be active, healthy and in the best conditions to face any threat, even that represented by the new coronavirus, it is important to avoid a selenium deficiency. In fact, it seems that selenium can help protect against the severe course of the disease and also counteract the possible formation of variants of the virus. This emerges from a very recent review published in the Nutrients journal thanks to the work of a German team (Schomburg et al, Nutrients, 2022).

The importance of selenium

Studies have shown that, in intensive care, patients hospitalized for any type of disease have a greater risk of developing complications and sepsis in case of selenium deficiency. Low selenium values are linked to a worsening of the functioning of the immune system, the endocrine system and also the central nervous system, highlighting the importance of this mineral. But what can lead to a decrease in selenium values? Selenium can decrease in our body following a not very varied diet, for chronic diseases, inflammation, infections, pregnancy, hospitalization and convalescence. Given the role of selenium in the proper functioning of the immune system, a protective role against the new coronavirus has also been hypothesized.

Selenium and the new coronavirus

And indeed, it has emerged that selenium can also play an essential role in the fight against the coronavirus. Selenium levels may already be reduced from the start, due, as mentioned, to various conditions, but they can further reduce as a result of viral infection and inflammation that is generated in the body. This condition is very delicate as a selenium deficiency can cause, even in the case of the new coronavirus, an increased risk of a severe course of the illness. The role of selenium against the new coronavirus, however, does not stop there and is even more fascinating. In fact, it has been observed that environments characterized by selenium deficiency are a favorable ground for the proliferation of the virus and the formation of mutations and therefore of variants. Therefore, ensuring correct selenium values becomes crucial for the proper functioning of our defenses and to counteract variants of the virus, a great danger in this pandemic.

Warnings and conclusions

However, care must be taken. In fact, there is no risk if the selenium intake is guaranteed by a varied and balanced diet that also includes foods containing this mineral, such as Brazil nuts, one of the foods with the highest selenium content, but also seafood, whole grains, garlic and eggs. When taking supplements, instead, especially if selenium deficiency has not been diagnosed, can cause even more harm. In fact, high selenium values can, in the long run, cause insulin resistance and pave the way for diabetes. Therefore, always ask your doctor for advice before starting any selenium-based treatment, while it is certainly a good choice to ensure a healthy and balanced diet, which can provide the selenium that the body needs to function at its best.

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