But we don’t hear about it
May 11, 2020
At this time, new research is emerging, newly published, especially about SARS-CoV-2, which has shut down the world with its follow-up Covid-19. This disease specifically affects the lungs, which is why people with lung disease are at special risk of serious illness.
One of the world’s most respected selenium researchers, Margaret Rayman, together with a team of researchers, has just published an important letter in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition that shows a significantly (P <0.0001) higher cure rate for Covid-19 patients with higher selenium levels in the body.
An interesting study from 2004 (Beck) showed that if a virus like corona passes through a host animal with selenium deficiency, the viral virulence will increase. The host animal lacks selenium to produce glutathione peroxidase for its own protection, thus allowing the virus to mutate freely to a more virulent form. Such selenium-deficient host animals are found in large selenium-poor areas of China, and could, for example, be a bat, or more likely a civet, which is a Chinese cat-like animal resembling a mongoose a little bit. It is eminent for adapting to urban environments and can be a nuisance near human housing where the cats’ excrements make a mess and carry diseases – especially if the animals lack selenium.
Rayman mentions a number of diseases that are improved by optimizing selenium supplementation via the immunomodulatory effect of selenium, in particular selenium’s ability to attenuate the virus’s ability to mutate in a more virulent direction.
Along with the above zoological observation, this led Rayman and colleagues to assume that selenium status and Covid-19 disease had a relationship, and they wanted to find it.
In a retrospective population-based analysis, daily reports (from a credible, non-governmental source) were collected from each province, municipality and city on confirmed cases, cured and deceased Covid-19 patients.
From previous studies, data on selenium levels in individual small districts were reported as selenium concentration in hair. Hair selenium concentrations have shown strong correlation with selenium intake in the different Chinese districts.
By the term “cured” is meant more than three days of fever-free lung function and lung symptoms clearly improved pulmonary x-ray or scan normal, and negative immunological test for the lung pathogen in question in two subsequent tests at least one day apart.
The recovery was significantly lower in Hubei Province (13.2%) compared to all other provinces (40.6%), and mortality in Hubei Province higher (3% – sick) than in all other provinces (0.6 %). Both differences are highly significant (P <0.0001).
However, one of the cities of Hubei Province showed remarkably higher recovery rates than the rest of the cities of Hubei, and it was Enshi (36.4%), which is known for high selenium intake and high selenium status.
The reason China is so thoroughly researched for selenium, is because there are areas in China with both the world’s lowest – and the world’s highest occurrences of selenium in the soil and in the food.
An area of very low selenium status is Keshan in northeastern Heilongjiang Province. We know Keshan disease, which is a cardiomyopathy / heart failure due to selenium deficiency. In Keshan, the mortality rate was 2.4% compared to the other province’s 0.5%.
The Rayman study has significant weaknesses in confounding factors and the use of old selenium data. It was also published as a “facilitator” so that the news can come out as quickly as possible at a time when any whistleblow is welcome and every stone must be turned over.
The Vitality Council has emphasized that the research does come from a serious researcher, Margaret Rayman.
Furthermore, when we can link her new data with a large number of heavy scientific studies, all of which point to selenium as a key ingredient in our immune system, the Vitality Council will conclude that selenium is necessary to optimize our immune system, so we won’t get so sick from Covid-19.
Take care of yourself and others!
Claus Hancke; MD, Specialist in general medicine
- Rayman Margaret et al, 2020, Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China Am J Clin Nutr 2020; 00: 1–3
- Beck MA, Handy J, Levander OA. Host nutritional status: The neglected virulence factor. Trends Microbiol 2004; 12: 417–23.
- Rayman Margaret. Selenium and human health. Lancet 2012; 379: 1256–68.
- Harthill M. 2011, Micronutrient selenium deficiency influences evolution of some viral infectious diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec; 143 (3): 1325-36.
- Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities.
Antiox Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1; 16 (7): 705-43.
- Beck MA, Nelson HK, Shi Q, Van Dael P, Schiffrin EJ, Blum S, Barclay D, Levander OA. Selenium deficiency increases the pathology of an influenza virus infection. FASEB J. 2001 Jun; 15 (8): 1481-3.
- Steinbrenner H et al. 2015, Dietary Selenium in Adjuvant Therapy of Viral and Bacterial Infections. Adv Nutr 2015; 6: 73–82.