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Another Reason to Get More Selenium: Your Heart Will Thank You

A new study appearing in the December 2008 issue of the American Heart Journal found that supplements may provide cardiovascular health benefits by increasing levels of an antioxidant enzyme.

Selenium is a trace mineral which is essential to good health because it plays an important role in antioxidant function. The main dietary source comes from plants, but levels of the mineral vary depending on how much is in the soil where the plants grow.

Recently, researchers from Johannes Gutenberg-University in Germany performed two studies in order to analyze the association between cardiovascular health and selenium. They wanted to identify the role selenium plays in producing a protein called GPx1.

GPx1 is a human gene that encodes an antioxidant called glutathione peroxidase, which has been shown to inhibit inflammatory enzymes and boost blood vessel's ability to fight toxins in blood.

The first study was a clinical trial in which 465 participants received a daily supplement of water soluble selenium (200 or 500 micrograms), or a placebo for 12 weeks. All of the participants had coronary heart disease.

In the second study, various compounds of selenium were incubated with human coronary artery cells to identify how the mineral affects the production of GPx1 in blood vessels.

Selenium supplementation resulted in higher GPx1 levels in both studies. In the first, both dosages resulted in a GPx1 increases although the affect was more rapid in the higher dose group. In the second study, GPx1 levels in blood vessels increased by about 11%.

These results add to a growing body of evidence that shows selenium plays a very important role in the body. In fact, another study published in last month's issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that selenium may lower the risk for metabolic syndrome.
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