Breaking News on Supplements, Health & Nutrition - Europe US edition | APAC edition

News > Research

Read more breaking news



Low selenium levels may increase anaemia risk in the elderly

By Stephen Daniells , 14-Jan-2009

Low levels of the mineral selenium may increase the risk of anaemia in older people, according to a new study from the United States.

Writing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the National Institute on Aging report that people with the lowest selenium levels were 11.4 per cent more likely to have anaemia, compared to people with the highest levels..

“This study raises a potentially important public health question: has selenium deficiency been overlooked as a cause of anaemia among older adults? This study may represent a first important step toward determining whether selenium deficiency is a potential cause of anaemia among older adults,” wrote lead author Richard Semba.

Being the first such study of its kind, the researchers were cautious about the recommendation of selenium supplements, or selenium-rich foods, noting that it is not known whether improvements in selenium intake would have a direct impact on anaemia in older people – related to haemoglobin levels.

Anaemia, the most common blood disorder, can affect anyone, but the highest occurrence is in elderly women, women of childbearing age (due to menstruation), children and teenagers. According to the Semba and his co-workers, the prevalence of the disorder increases with age.

Study details

The researchers studied data on 2,092 adults over the age of 65 taking part in the third National Nutrition Examination Survey, Phase 2 (NHANES III). Blood samples were used to evaluate selenium levels and the incidence of anaemia, defined using the WHO levels of less than 12 grams of haemoglobin per decilitre of blood (g/dL) for women, and 13 g/dL for men.

Almost 13 per cent of the participants were classified as anaemic, while the average selenium blood levels of selenium were lower in people with anaemia than in people without the disorder. Increasing selenium levels were associated with a reduced risk of anaemia, said the researchers.

Is it biologically plausible?

The researchers noted that the mineral is involved in maintaining optimal concentrations of an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidise, which protects haemoglobin against oxidation

However, considering the flip side to this argument, they said that there is negligible biological evidence that anaemia could cause low selenium blood levels.

“Further work is needed to corroborate these findings in other populations, provide evidence for longitudinal causal associations, identify underlying biological mechanisms and determine whether improving selenium status has an impact upon anaemia in older adults,” said Semba and his co-workers.

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition2009, Volume 63, Pages 93-99; doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602889“Low serum selenium is associated with anemia among older adults in the United States”Authors: R.D. Semba, M.O. Ricks, L. Ferrucci, Q.-L. Xue, J.M. Guralnik, L.P. Fried

Related products

Live Supplier Webinars

Polyphenols tipped to become the way to innovate in Sports Nutrition
Alpha & Omega in Sports Nutrition – Using Omega 3’s and A-GPC to improve performance and recovery.
KD Pharma
Orally bioavailable standardized botanical derivatives in sport nutrition: special focus on recovery in post-intense physical activities
Collagen in motion: move freely and keep your injuries in check
Leading manufacturer of gelatine and collagen peptides
Life’s too short for slow proteins. Whey proteins hydrolysates: Fast delivery for enhanced performance
Arla Foods Ingredients
What it Takes to Compete and Win in Today’s Sports Nutrition Market
Sports Nutrition Snapshot: Key regional drivers and delivery format innovations
William Reed Business Media
Gutsy performance: How can microbiome modulation help athletes and weekend warriors
William Reed Business Media
Pushing the boundaries: Where’s the line between ‘cutting edge nutrition’ and doping
William Reed Business Media

On demand Supplier Webinars

High-amylose maize starch may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes: what does this qualified health claim mean?
Balancing Innovation and Risk in Sports Nutrition Ingredients
Explaining bio-hacking: is there a marketing opportunity for food companies?
William Reed Business Media
Personalized Nutrition – how an industry can take part in shaping the future of Nutrition
BASF Nutrition & Health
Find out Nutritional and ingredient lifecycle solutions and strategies!
Is the time rIpe for I-nutrition?
William Reed Business Media
The Advantage of Outsourcing Fermentation-based Manufacturing Processes
Evonik Health Care
All supplier webinars