Selenium May Reduce Risk for Diabetes

mineralsAs diabetes becomes more prevalent, people search for new ways to prevent it. Many suggest exercise and a healthy diet. Others suggest various medications. A new study, though, suggests that ingesting a simple mineral could drastically reduce one’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The mineral suggested is known as selenium. It is a basic antioxidant, which inhibits other molecules from oxidizing. The perceivable effect is typically beneficial and usually a protection of sorts from various diseases and medical conditions. Antioxidants are typically taken to prevent many long-term, chronic diseases. Moreover, the study suggests that selenium could be the one that helps prevent diabetes.

The research team studied more than 7,000 health professionals, both men and women. They asked the test subjects to provide detailed information about their diets, diseases, injuries, and lifestyle choices they had since the 1980s. That was not all on which they based their information, though. The team also studied the test subjects’ toenails from the period between 1982 and 1987. The toenails provided the evidence they needed to make their claim regarding selenium.


When the study began, none of the health professionals had diabetes. By the end of it, approximately 10 percent of them had developed the disease. By comparing this statistic with the selenium content of the toenails, the team concluded that those with a decent amount of selenium in their diets were 24 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. However, they have not disregarded the idea that the results may be skewed by other factors. The test subjects who had more selenium in their toenails also happened to live healthier lives, eating better food and not participating in damaging activities, such as smoking. They have also looked at the possibility that the selenium content of the toenails may be influence by where the test subjects lived, as some areas of the United States have soil rich in selenium, while others do not.


Despite their findings, though, the team does not suggest that people take selenium supplements. Their study did not focus on the effects of the various types of selenium, merely on the amount of selenium itself. Therefore, it is possible that only certain kinds led to the decrease in likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes.


Various foods already contain significant amounts of selenium, particularly grains, various forms of meat—particularly fish, and multiple kinds of nuts. Additionally, as the selenium content of the soil varies across the country, food from certain locations contains more of the mineral than food from other locations.


Experts also suggest that individuals consume between 55 and 400 milligrams of selenium each day. Consuming less could lead to a deficiency that may even increase the chance of developing diabetes. Consuming more could potentially lead to selenium poisoning. Too much of the mineral, in fact, could lead to problems such as damage to the nervous system and hair loss.


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