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Trace Mineral May Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk

A study published in the November 2008 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that selenium may decrease risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Selenium is a trace mineral which plays an important role in immune system and antioxidant function. Plants are the main dietary source, and the amount of selenium in the soil where a plant grows determines the amount we get from food.

For the study, researchers from the University of Navara in Spain measured the blood pressure and lifestyle characteristics of 100 healthy individuals with an average age of 20. They also analyzed finger nail clippings from the participants, which were used to measure selenium levels.

The researchers found that selenium reduced levels of a protein called serum complement factor 3 (C3), which is considered to be an early indicator for metabolic syndrome. It has also been associated with weight gain and increased blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

According to the American Heart Association, metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the following:

1. A waistline greater than 40 for men or 35 for women
2. Good (HDL) cholesterol under 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women
3. Triglyceride levels over 150mg/dL
4. Blood pressure over 130/85mm Hg or the use of blood pressure medicine
5. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein
6. Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance or the use of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) medicine

This deadly combination can put you at higher risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, heart attack, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers.

The researchers agree that more research is necessary to confirm these findings, but they also note that the results may support a call to increase the recommended daily values for selenium.

In addition to getting more selenium, other good ways to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome are to maintain a healthy diet low in saturated fats and exercise regularly.
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