Supplements Do Not Lower Risk
A review published in The Cochrane Library has found that for well-nourished adults, taking additional selenium in the form of supplements is of no benefit for preventing heart disease. Selenium has been thought to decrease risk by protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation. It may even slightly decrease cholesterol. However, says author Saverio Stranges of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick (UK), there is limited evidence that the use of supplements will ultimately prevent the development of heart disease in healthy people. Selenium is a trace mineral essential for good health and found in Brazil nuts, seafood, meat and poultry, sunflower seeds, and some grains. Adults need about 55 mcg per day to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
Leo Galland MD, an internist practicing in New York City, states that many Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral needed for the regulation and activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body. A deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues. Symptoms of a lack of magnesium include leg and foot cramps, sensitivity to loud noises, muscle twitches and spasms, and irritability. Dr Galland offers three tips for correcting this nutritional lack. Eat more nuts, vegetables and seafood and limit intake of sugar. Check with your doctor about whether you need dietary supplements. And soak in Epsom salt, as magnesium can be absorbed through the skin. Dr. Galland notes that the last tip is also a great way to relieve stress.
Might Help a Poor Diet
Researchers publishing in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (CJPP) have reported that taking multivitamin-mineral supplements may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Rats that were fed high-fat, low-fiber diets, a known risk factor for cancer, were divided into six groups and exposed to different combinations of dietary supplements and carcinogens. The carcinogenesis induced in the study rats mimicked that of human colon cancer. Those animals that received a multivitamin showed a significant (84 percent) reduction in the formation of pre-cancerous lesions and did not develop tumors. The authors suggest that the nutrients provided in the supplements contribute a chemoprotective effect.
Supplements Not Recommended
High doses of the mineral selenium may help to slightly lower cholesterol levels according to research conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A study of 500 UK adults found that those taking 100 and 200 micrograms of selenium daily (the RDA for US adults is set at 55 micrograms by the Institute of Medicine) helped to lower total cholesterol by an average of 8.5 mg/dL and 9.7 mg/dL respectively compared to a group taking a placebo. But taking supplements is still not recommended due to the possible risks, such as an increase in diabetes. Americans get plenty of selenium in their daily diet, as foods such as meat, bread and some nuts are rich in the mineral. The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.