Selenium is an essential mineral; selenomethionine is an amino acid-based type of organic selenium found naturally in food. Selenium supplements come in a variety of forms, including selenomethionine, used for numerous health-promoting purposes. As with any nutritional supplement, talk to your health-care practitioner before self-medicating with selenomethionine.
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Selenomethionine Versus Non-Organic Selenium Supplements
Although all selenium supplements are thought to produce similar effects in the body, selenomethionine is more easily absorbed than non-organic forms of selenium such as selenate. Methionine is an amino acid, meaning it is a building block of protein. When you consume selenomethionine supplements, your body recognizes the selenium as the amino acid methionine and immediately incorporates it in into its protein stores. In fact, taking selenomethionine supplements results in plasma selenium stores twice as high as equivalent doses of non-organic selenium supplements such as selenate, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
Selenomethionine is a potent antioxidant and immune system booster and it promotes both heart and liver health, state Phyllis Balch CNC and James Balch M.D., in their book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Alternative health-care practitioners use selenium to help treat cardiovascular disease, a variety of cancers, chemotherapy toxicity, diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts, hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, atherosclerosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia and critical illness. People also use selenium supplements such as selenomethionine to help treat avian flu, swine flu, HIV/AIDS, allergic rhinitis, infertility, gray hair, abnormal pap smears, chronic fatigue syndrome, mood disorders and arsenic poisoning. However, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of selenomethionine supplements for these purposes.
Selenomethionine supplements may be useful for colon cancer patients, according to the July-August 2002 edition of “Cancer Biology and Therapy” journal. The journal tested the effects of selenomethionine on four different colon cancer cell lines, and selenomethionine inhibited the growth of all four. The study was preliminary, but concluded that selenomethionine shows promise for the prevention and treatment of colon cancer.
Selenium supplements such as selenomethionine are considered safe and well-tolerated when consumed in doses not exceeding the tolerable upper intake — 400 micrograms daily. However, excessive amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, nail changes, fatigue, irritability, alopecia and weight loss. Selenium supplements may also interact with medications such as anticoagulants, contraceptives and schizophrenia drugs. Take selenomethionine as directed on the bottle or as your health care practitioner recommends.