High Dose Selenium Significantly Improves My Fatigue and Brain Fog

Does selenium 400 mcg daily help your CFS? Have an active enterovirus infection, tested at ARUP Lab?

  • Selenium DID NOT HELP. My ARUP Lab tests showed I HAVE an active enterovirus infection

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Hip

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High Dose Selenium Significantly Improves My Fatigue and Brain Fog

High dose selenium significantly improves my fatigue levels, and noticeably reduces my brain fog. I have consistently found selenium to be the best single supplement or drug I have tried for ME/CFS.

I found that it requires a high(ish) dose of 400 mcg of selenium each day before these benefits manifest. The best form of selenium to take is yeast-free selenomethionine, as selenomethionine the best absorbed form of selenium. Selenium must be taken on an empty stomach, to ensure it is properly assimilated.

I found that the improvements in fatigue and brain fog that selenium provides take a while to appear: it takes around 10 days of daily selenium supplementation before these improvements manifest. But these improvements begin to be noticeable by the 10 day stage. This amelioration in fatigue and brain fog is also maintained permanently, provided I continue to supplement with 400 mcg of selenium each day.

Two other people who followed the same selenium protocol as me also said that they found noticeable improvements by 10 days.
Note that "high dose" in this thread title really something of a misnomer, as in this thread, the dose suggested is 400 mcg daily, and this dosage is considered within safe upper limits.
If I cease taking my daily dose of 400 mcg selenium, within about 3 or 4 days of stopping, my fatigue and brain fog will begin to get worse again. So if you want to maintain the increased energy and cognitive abilities it provides, one should take selenium on a daily basis.

I also found that if I reduce my dose to 200 mcg of selenium a day, the fatigue and fatigue and brain fog also creep back to some degree. Taking a 400 mcg daily dose of selenium seems to provide the best benefits.

The maximum daily dose of selenium is 600 mcg (ref: here), so you can even try taking higher daily doses of selenium; but I personally found that these higher doses created some irritability side effects, so I went back to 400 mcg. However, other people may be perfectly fine with these higher doses.



High Dose Selenium: Long Term Improvements in ME/CFS

This daily dose of 400 mcg of selenium also appeared create to some significant long term improvements in my ME/CFS. Two years ago, my ME/CFS was much worse than it is now: at that time, for one or two days each week, it was common for me become so tired I would sleep in bed for 18 hours of the day. Nowadays, however, I never experience these very tired days, and my overall energy levels and mental concentration levels are much improved compared to two years ago.

So I would say that before selenium, I was on the border of entering severe ME/CFS territory (in which people are mostly bedbound), but after some time on selenium, my ME/CFS improved to the point where it become moderate ME/CFS, even on border of becoming mild ME/CFS (on the ME/CFS scale of mild, moderate and severe).

Thus anyone with ME/CFS looking for a sustainable gain in energy and improvement in brain fog might want to try taking 400 mcg of selenium (as yeast-free selenomethionine) on an empty stomach for 10 days or so, and see if you experience the same benefits as I did.



Notes on Selenium Suplementation

• Other forms of selenium supplement include sodium selenate, and sodium selenite, but the absorption of these two forms in the gut is only around 50%, whereas the absorption of selenomethionine in the gut is near 100%. If you take the less absorbable forms of selenium, you may have to increase your dose to compensate for the poorer assimilation.

• Selenomethionine comes in both a yeast-free form, and a yeast-derived form. I would avoid the yeast-derived form of selenomethionine, because I found this yeast form caused significant depression symptoms when I took it, whereas the yeast-free selenomethionine had no such side effects.

• Selenium must be taken on an empty stomach to ensure good absorption.

• Selenomethionine is also referred to as L-selenomethionine (these are the same thing).

• Selenium protects against cancer, so this is another benefit of taking this supplement on a daily basis. Though it may increase the risk of prostate cancer.1

• I find the highly bioavailable methylselenocysteine form of selenium just as effective, and this is what I use now. Swanson sell an inexpensive methylselenocysteine supplement. You can buy it here. Methylselenocysteine is also called Se-methylselenocysteine and L-Se-methylselenocysteine.


I later discovered that selenomethionine, but not other forms of selenium, may induce HERV (human endogenous retrovirus) expression (see here). Not sure if this is an issue, but maybe then methylselenocysteine might be a better option than selenomethionine. Though note that HERVs may sometimes play a protective role in the immune system (see bottom of this post).



High Dose Selenium: Possible Mechanisms of Action

Selenium has a number of effects in the body that may explain why it reduces fatigue and brain fog in ME/CFS. Some of these effects are as follows:

Selenium has significant antiviral effects, as selenium deficiency is known to cause increased viral pathogenicity, and is known to make coxsackievirus B and echovirus infection more severe (coxsackievirus B and echovirus are two enteroviruses strongly linked to ME/CFS). See these studies:

• Selenium and viral virulence (full paper here)
• Increased virulence of a human enterovirus (coxsackievirus B3) in selenium-deficient mice
• Increased virulence of coxsackievirus B3 in mice due to vitamin E or selenium deficiency
• Selenium deficiency contributes to the chronic myocarditis in coxsackievirus-infected mice

• Coxsackievirus B3-resistant mice become susceptible in Se/vitamin E deficiency
• Benign human enterovirus becomes virulent in selenium-deficient mice
• Selenium deficiency and viral infection
• Selenium and host defence towards viruses
• Selenium and vitamin E status: impact on viral pathogenicity


Coxsackievirus B is capable of making viral selenoproteins, and is thereby able to reduce the body's supply of selenium. Ref: here.


Selenium increases toxic metal excretion from the body. Supplementation with just 100 mcg of selenium (in the form of selenomethionine) daily for 4 months led to a 34% reduction in levels of mercury detected in body hair. Selenium may act as a competitive inhibitor of mercury and lead absorption. Selenium also mitigates the toxicity of mercury and cadmium by modulating their interaction with certain biomolecules. Source: Heavy Metal Detoxification


➤ Selenium is a co-factor for glutathione peroxidase, which is an antioxidant enzyme that, with the help of reduced glutathione, scavenges hydrogen peroxide. This helps prevent the generation of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) by hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, this study suggests that a lack of glutathione peroxidase causes coxsackievirus B to undergo genetic changes in the body and become more virulent. Vitamin B6 may also be a co-factor for glutathione peroxidase. Ref: here. The herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum also raises glutathione peroxidase. Ref: here. Vitamin E increases glutathione peroxidase. Ref: here.


➤ Selenium deficiency increases susceptibility to glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Ref: here.


➤ Selenium provides partial protection against quinolinic acid neurotoxicity. Ref: here. (A full list of medications that protect against quinolinic acid given in this post).


➤ Selenium enhances the activity of T-regulatory cells (T-regs), which might have an anti-autoimmune effect. Ref: here. Other supplements which boost T-regs listed here. TGF beta-1 destroys T-regs, according to Dr Shoemaker, but losartan can reduce its levels; see this post.
 
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alex3619

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I found Brazil nuts work better for me, as a high selenium nut. What I have tentatively found though is that daily low dose doesn't work. I am also wary of any daily high dose of selenium, as it can be toxic in the long term. What I found, so far, that works best for me, is half a dozen or more Brazil nuts twice a week, eaten all at once. That spiked dose seems to do something.

Curiously I get a similar response pattern from resveratrol. A constant dose doesn't do much. Intermittent dosing twice a week gets the best response so far.

If anyone is only going to take one vitamin antioxidant, it would have to be vitamin E, as either gamma tocopherol or mixed tocopherols. It has been noted many times that we are consistently low in vitamin E, though I have yet to see a proper study showing this.
 
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I found Brazil nuts work better for me, as a high selenium nut. What I have tentatively found though is that daily low dose doesn't work. I am also wary of any daily high dose of selenium, as it can be toxic in the long term. What I found, so far, that works best for me, is half a dozen or more Brazil nuts twice a week, eaten all at once. That spiked dose seems to do something.

Curiously I get a similar response pattern from resveratrol. A constant dose doesn't do much. Intermittent dosing twice a week gets the best response so far.

If anyone is only going to take one vitamin antioxidant, it would have to be vitamin E, as either gamma tocopherol or mixed tocopherols. It has been noted many times that we are consistently low in vitamin E, though I have yet to see a proper study showing this.
I eat 3 Brazil nuts everyday. Would that be considered daily low dose?
 

Hip

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I eat 3 Brazil nuts everyday. Would that be considered daily low dose?
Each Brazil nut contains around 50 mcg of selenium, so if you were to eat 8 Brazil nuts each day, you would be getting 400 mcg of selenium daily. You should probably eat these on an empty stomach to get good absorption of the selenium.

I am also wary of any daily high dose of selenium, as it can be toxic in the long term.
I don't think selenium toxicity is a concern when you are taking a dose of 400 mcg, which is well within the safe range.

Selenium toxicity only begins at extremely high doses of around 2,400 to 3,000 mcg of selenium per day or more (ref: here), and even with these doses, it would still take several months of daily dosing before any symptoms of selenium toxicity might arise.
 
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alex3619

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Nobody knows what is low dose or high dose in us, its a guess. One is low dose. Five is probably high dose. In between?

If you want to find out, the only way is to try it to see. I suggest you eat five every other day, and find if it makes you feel better. If it doesn't, then go possibly go back to daily.

The impact of things like selenium in ME is not well understood. I was using selenium in 1999. There is good evidence that some is good. However like many metals too much is bad, so it pays to be cautious. How much is too much? We are all different.

http://www.news-medical.net/health/Selenium-Toxicity.aspx

Although selenium is an essential trace element, it is toxic if taken in excess. Exceeding the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 400 micrograms per day can lead to selenosis.

This 400 microgram Tolerable Upper Intake Level is based primarily on a 1986 study of five Chinese patients who exhibited overt signs of selenosis and a follow up study on the same five people in 1992.
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/

The table here puts the RDA at about 55mcg. Please note this is probably the RDA for selenium itself, not the cofactor it is bound to, so the actual selenium is what counts.

One Brazil nut is on average about 80 micrograms of selenium, so five a day is the maximum safe number in the long term. One a day meets the RDA and then a little extra.

PS I started writing this hours ago, but only just got back to it to finish, so its not directly in reply to Hip's post.
 
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Jon_Tradicionali

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Nobody knows what is low dose or high dose in us, its a guess. One is low dose. Five is probably high dose. In between?

If you want to find out, the only way is to try it to see. I suggest you eat five every other day, and find if it makes you feel better. If it doesn't, then go possibly go back to daily.

The impact of things like selenium in ME is not well understood. I was using selenium in 1999. There is good evidence that some is good. However like many metals too much is bad, so it pays to be cautious. How much is too much? We are all different.

http://www.news-medical.net/health/Selenium-Toxicity.aspx

Although selenium is an essential trace element, it is toxic if taken in excess. Exceeding the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 400 micrograms per day can lead to selenosis.

This 400 microgram Tolerable Upper Intake Level is based primarily on a 1986 study of five Chinese patients who exhibited overt signs of selenosis and a follow up study on the same five people in 1992.

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/

The table here puts the RDA at about 55mcg. Please note this is probably the RDA for selenium itself, not the cofactor it is bound to, so the actual selenium is what counts.

One Brazil nut is on average about 80 micrograms of selenium, so five a day is the maximum safe number in the long term. One a day meets the RDA and then a little extra.

PS I started writing this hours ago, but only just got back to it to finish, so its not directly in reply to Hip's post.
At first glance it seemed like a direct contradiction,with evidence backing it up, to Hip's statement.

My stance:

Short term- Hip is right, selenosis is very unlikely to occur.

Long term- The risk increases

Though I believe this to be the case for any supplement or drug we take. We take it as a gamble to test our bodies reaction to it and we believe the gamble far outweighs the latter option which would be to accept the symptoms that is CFS.
 

Helen

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Is Brazil nuts really a good source for selenium? Might contain aflatoxins and are radioactive. A friend of mine tested Brazil nuts with a Geiger meter and he was startled to see the high radioactivity.

The need for selenium also varies with where you live. In Sweden the soil is very selenium deficient. We get only 30 mcg a day from food grown here. In Italy, as a comparison, they get 300 mcg. Sorry, have no source for hand.

Too much selenium is said to give an odour of garlic from the body. For what it is worth...
 

Rand56

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According to this information on this site...if you're going to up your selenium intake, you're going to need to up your Vit. E uptake, and don't take them at the same time.....

"Although selenium and Vitamin E work together synergistically in that they
carry out antioxidant and immuno-stimulating functions, they compete with
each other on a biochemical level, where increasing the one requires an
increase of the other, otherwise ratio problems occur."

http://www.acu-cell.com/ses.html

Awhile back I was taking a higher dose of selenium and worked myself up to taking 600 mcg's. I can't remember how long I stayed at this dose, but it was longer than the 10 days that @Hip mentioned. Just for the heck of it, one day I took 1000 mcg's and noticed I had a clear head and a calm focus that I hadn't had in a very long time. It didn't last that long. I figured I might have had a drug like effect, and due to the fear of toxicity of higher doses, I never stayed at that dose. Now I'm going to re-think taking higher doses again.
 

alex3619

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Is Brazil nuts really a good source for selenium? Might contain aflatoxins and are radioactive. A friend of mine tested Brazil nuts with a Geiger meter and he was startled to see the high radioactivity.

The need for selenium also varies with where you live. In Sweden the soil is very selenium deficient. We get only 30 mcg a day from food grown here. In Italy, as a comparison, they get 300 mcg. Sorry, have no source for hand.

Too much selenium is said to give an odour of garlic from the body. For what it is worth...
The whole world is a radiation zone now, and its going to get worse. If Brazil nuts collect it then they will be off the menu at some point, but so will a lot of other foods.
 

alex3619

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"Although selenium and Vitamin E work together synergistically in that they
carry out antioxidant and immuno-stimulating functions, they compete with
each other on a biochemical level, where increasing the one requires an
increase of the other, otherwise ratio problems occur."

http://www.acu-cell.com/ses.html
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/selenium/

A major role for selenium is enzymes used for the reduction of free radicals. That oxidation has to go somewhere, and vitamin E is part of the antioxidant chain (the pentet) which also includes glutathione, C, Lipoic acid and CoEnzyme Q10. Every step is needed for the chain to work.

However we don't know what half the selenium proteins do yet.
 

Beyond

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Would the benefits from selenomethionine be from thyroid problems, which seem ubiquitous in CFS? And why the natural form gave you depression? Selenomethionine occurs naturally in yeast, so not only is cheaper but is a whole food supplement. However, having read this from you I will be wary of taking it in that form as I already cope with "depression".
 

alex3619

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Hip

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Would the benefits from selenomethionine be from thyroid problems, which seem ubiquitous in CFS?
I don't think so in my case, because I had my thyroid hormones checked, and they were fine. I have even experimented with taking supplemental triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) thyroid hormones, and they did not help.

And why the natural form gave you depression? Selenomethionine occurs naturally in yeast, so not only is cheaper but is a whole food supplement. However, having read this from you I will be wary of taking it in that form as I already cope with "depression".
I get the same depression effect (but even more severely) from taking the yeast supplement Epicor®, which is a potent immunomodulator made from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I have also read that other ME/CFS patients get bad effects from Epicor.

Now it just so happens that the selenium yeast found in these natural selenomethionine supplements is produced by fermenting Saccharomyces cerevisiae. So I think it is Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast which is the cause of the depression I get when taking natural selenomethionine.

However, I do very well on the excellent yeast probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, which I find reduces my IBS problems, and also helps clear my sinus inflammation.

Thus it seems that there is a specific problem with the Saccharomyces cerevisiae found in natural selenomethionine supplements and in the Epicor supplement.


According to this information on this site...if you're going to up your selenium intake, you're going to need to up your Vit. E uptake, and don't take them at the same time.....
"Vitamin E work together synergistically in that they carry out antioxidant and immuno-stimulating functions, they compete with each other on a biochemical level, where increasing the one requires an increase of the other, otherwise ratio problems occur."

http://www.acu-cell.com/ses.html
Interesting link. Though I could not find where it says that you should not take vitamin E and selenium at the time.

If you look at the studies I cited above — studies regarding the antiviral and protective effects of selenium in coxsackievirus B and echovirus cardiac infections — some of the studies found that taking selenium and vitamin E had a synergistic antiviral effect. Though in my own tests of taking 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E in addition to selenium, I found no added benefits in terms of improving my ME/CFS symptoms.

My hunch is that the antiviral and protective effects of selenium against coxsackievirus B and echovirus infections may be the main reason for selenium's benefits in ME/CFS.

Let me give you some excerpts from those viral studies cited above. These studies focus on enterovirus heart infections, but I think their findings will also apply to ME/CFS, which is may well be caused by an enterovirus infection of the central and peripheral nervous systems:
"Coxsackievirus B3 induced myocarditic lesions occurred more quickly and were more severe and virus titers in heart and liver were higher in selenium-deficient than selenium-adequate mice." 1

"Coxsackievirus B3 virions, as a consequence of replicating in a selenium-deficient host, underwent a phenotypic change to increased virulence". 1

"Mice on the selenium-deficient diet exhibited a higher mortality, lower serum glutathione peroxidase activity, evident histopathological changes indicative of myocarditis, and a higher level of viral RNA in the heart." 1

"An amyocarditic strain of coxsackievirus B3, CVB3/0, converted to virulence when it was inoculated into selenium-deficient mice. This conversion was accompanied by changes in the genetic structure of the virus so that its genome closely resembled that of other known virulent CVB3 strains. Similar alterations in virulence and genomic composition of CVB3/0 could be observed in mice fed normal diets but genetically deprived of the antioxidant selenoenzyme glutathione peroxidase (knockout mice)." 1
This last study above is particularly interesting, as it suggests that the lack of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant derived from selenium, causes coxsackievirus B to undergo genetic changes in the body and become more virulent.
 

Hip

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In terms of selenium toxicity, I have an acquaintance who was able to put his incurable form of cancer into remission by taking very high doses of sodium selenite, a form of selenium that has potent anticancer effects. This acquaintance took a dose of 5,000 mcg of selenium as sodium selenite each day for two years, with no sign of any selenium toxicity, apart from some nausea when he first started on this dose. This individual told me of many other cancer patients who treat incurable or chemotherapy-resistant cancers using very high dose sodium selenite, and none have any side effects other than some nausea.

Note that the absorption of sodium selenite in the gut is only around 50%, so a 5,000 mcg dose of selenium as sodium selenite would be equivalent to 2,500 mcg of selenomethionine, as the latter has 100% absorption.

By the way, if anyone wants more information about this intriguing sodium selenite protocol for cancer, I posted some details here.
 

undcvr

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I take 400 mcg of Sodium Selenate and another 400mcg of Se as methyl selenocysteine.

I actually read somewhere that Sodium Selenate is safer than Sodium Selenite.
 
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Hip

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I take 400 mcg of Se Sulphate and another 400mcg of Se in various other forms. Se Sulphate is supposed to be one of the less toxic forms in case you are taking too much.
Could you kindly provide a link to the selenium sulphate supplement you are taking. I can't find any info about this, and I am not sure if selenium sulphate even exists as a chemical.