Selenium Helps Fight HIV
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can be manageable as long as it does not expand into AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The challenge to HIV patients, then, is to keep the immune system boosted enough to delay or stop the development of AIDS
Selenium studied with HIV
Researchers from the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health have found that low levels of selenium relates to higher rates of HIV infections and a faster progression to AIDS. Those who had lower levels of serum selenium concentration had greater risk of dying from AIDS as well.
Other research has found that low selenium levels are associated with higher rates of asthma and cardiac failures.
The research analyzed a combination of laboratory experiments and human clinical trials. The laboratory tests showed that selenium boosts the liver’s ability to counteract toxins. The human clinical tests illustrated that selenium supplementation could significantly boost the immune system and reduce hospitalization.
Selenium deficiency has been linked with lower levels of the selenium-dependent liver enzyme, glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione peroxidase is a significant antioxidant and blood purifier produced in the liver. Low levels of glutathione peroxidase can result in various conditions, such as thyroid problems, lung issues, and greater susceptibility to infection.
A 2009 review of research on selenium for HIV patients was conducted by Missouri doctors. The research found that while evidence was light, there was reason to include selenium supplementation in HIV treatment.
Glutathione peroxidase is the leading enzyme responsible for the breakdown and removal of lipid hydroperoxides. Lipid hydroperoxides are oxidized fats that damage cell membranes. As they do this, they create pores in the cell. The resulting damage eventually kills most cells. Lipid hydroperoxides are one of the most damaging molecules within the body. They are responsible for many deadly metabolic diseases, including heart disease, artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many others.
One of the best sources of selenium is Brazil nuts. Other sources include corn, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seed, kelp, walnuts, brewer’s yeast, grapes, wheat germ, and other plant-based foods.
The recommended daily allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms. However, research on selenium deficiency has shown that 150-200 micrograms are necessary for a therapeutic effect. As is the case with most supplements, care should be given to prevent over-supplementing on selenium.
Stone CA, Kawai K, Kupka R, Fawzi WW. Role of selenium in HIV infection. Nutr Rev. 2010 Nov;68(11):671-8
Pitney CL, Royal M, Klebert M. Selenium supplementation in HIV-infected patients: is there any potential clinical benefit? J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2009 Jul-Aug;20(4):326-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jana.2009.03.006.