According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, low selenium levels in older people are often related to muscle weakness.
What is Selenium?
As a trace mineral, Selenium is well known for its antioxidant properties which are responsible for its antiviral and anticancer abilities. Many foods are rich in selenium, including meat, fish, Brazil nuts and garlic; however the amount of Selenium within these foods depends upon the environment and soil within which they were grown. A deficiency in Selenium is common in areas where the soil is considered to be ‘selenium-poor’. Due to intensive farming in the UK, Britain’s soil is classed as being ‘selenium-poor’ as the mineral is tripped from the soil. Therefore, in the UK it is difficult for us to get essential levels of Selenium from the food we eat, making a natural supplement of the mineral increasingly important.
Selenium’s antioxidant properties play a key role in protecting muscles from oxidative damage, which is one of the main causes for the loss of strength that many people feel as they age. A deficiency in Selenium can cause damage to not only the heart and skeletal muscles, but can also lead to visible signs of skin aging such as lines and wrinkles.
What does Research say?
A new study into the benefits of Selenium in promoting strength within aging muscles was based on approximately 900 men and women aged 65 years or older. The study investigated their blood selenium levels and assessed their muscle strength in terms of hip and knee mobility and hand grip.
It was noted that 30% of the participants had a significant lack of Selenium in their blood and so the participants were separated into groups depending on their Selenium levels. Those with the highest levels of Selenium had the greatest upper and lower body strength and performed considerably better when researchers assessed their hip, knee and hand reflexes. Those with the lowest levels of Selenium had twice as much of a chance as those in the highest level groups of being in the lowest group for muscle strength.
As a consequence, researchers have claimed that this study has been revolutionary in its suggestions that Selenium can improve muscle strength in older people. Researchers have even suggested so far as to say that low levels of selenium and low muscle strength significantly reduced the chance of survival in older people, linking both low selenium levels and muscle weakness to increased chance of mortality.
The recommended daily allowance of Selenium is between 50-200 mcg per day, with many multivitamin blends containing small amounts of Selenium that can contribute towards this.