You've probably heard me tout the benefits of selenium before. This important mineral is not only a powerful antioxidant, but has been found to be a marker for a number of different things. For example, prostate cancer rates in China were found to be lower when selenium is high, and according to research published in the January 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine, daily selenium supplements appear to suppress the progression of the viral load in patients with HIV infection. In discussing Hepatitis C, Burt Berkson, MD, PhD told me "Selenium acts as a birth control for the virus".
Recently, researchers from New Zealand asked a group of adult volunteers to consume either two Brazil nuts, 100 mcg of selenium as a supplement, or a placebo for 12 weeks. Even though the nuts averaged just 53 mcg of selenium, at the end of the 12 weeks, the nut eaters had increased their blood levels by over 64% while the supplement takers had increased theirs by a still very respectable 61%. The nut eaters also had more than twice the blood levels of an important selenium-dependent enzyme, glutathione peroxidise.
Should you throw out your selenium supplements? I'm certainly not going to. But why not eat four Brazil nuts a day just as insurance? They taste better than the supplements, (duh) and you may very well improve not only your selenium levels but your glutathione peroxidase levels even more.