Selenium supplements do not increase plasma total homocysteine concentrations in men and women

Bernard J. Venn, Andrea M. Grant, Christine D. Thomson, Tim Green

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Studies in rats indicate that plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is decreased in selenium deficiency and increases with selenium supplementation. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of selenium supplements on plasma tHcy concentrations in a population that has suboptimal selenium status. Subjects from Dunedin, New Zealand (n = 189) were randomly assigned to receive a supplement containing 200 μg selenium or placebo for 20 wk. At baseline, 67% (n = 112) of the participants had plasma selenium concentrations < 1.2 μmol/L, a concentration believed to be that necessary for full glutathione peroxidase (Gpx) activity. At 20 wk, plasma selenium concentration and Gpx activity increased in the selenium group by 1.2 μmol/L [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 1.3] and 5.1 nkat/g protein (3.7, 6.5), respectively, changes that were significantly greater than the changes in the placebo group (P < 0.001). At 20 wk, mean changes in plasma tHcy concentrations were 0.1 μmol/L (95% CI: -0.4, 0.5) and -0.2 μmol/L (-0.7, 0.3) in the supplemented and placebo groups, respectively, compared to baseline. There was no difference in the mean changes in plasma tHcy between the supplemented and placebo groups (P = 0.54). These results suggest that selenium supplementation does not influence plasma tHcy concentrations in healthy populations in developed countries, whose selenium status is characterized by lower plasma selenium concentrations.

Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


  • Glutathione peroxidase
  • Homocysteine
  • Human
  • Randomized-controlled trial
  • Selenium supplements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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