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.
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 promotes the antiviral Th1 immune response
, and the more anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype of macrophages. Ref: here
➤ 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 deficiency of glutathione peroxidase causes Coxsackie B virus to undergo genetic changes in the body making it more virulent. So glutathione peroxidase may reduce the virulence of this virus.
Genistein has been shown to elevate glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Ref: here
. So those who benefit from selenium might find further benefits from genistein, assuming the benefit comes from raised glutathione peroxidase.
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 potentiates dopaminergic function in the brain.
➤ 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
➤ 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. However, for me the benefits of selenium appear after just 10 days, and I think that is too fast to be due to toxic metal detoxification, which takes many months.
➤ Selenium helps counter most of the toxic effects of mercury
. Mercury is only harmful because it binds to selenium and prevents it from performing its vital roles in the brain. Selenium supplementation has been shown to restore selenoprotein function and reduce the toxicity of mercury. Ref: here