Effects of selenium in influenza.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Selenium Colds and Flu
Professional Data: Selenium Colds and Flu


Every year, approximately 35 to 50 million Americans get the flu.1 This highly contagious virus can cause and illness that may lead to hospitalization and even death. In the past, influenza epidemics killed millions of people around the world, but there have not been any out breaks of that magnitude since the 1960's. Protection against the flu can be as simple as washing hands or staying away from contaminated areas. The flu vaccine designed to protect against this virus, can take up to six weeks to become an effective deterrent against the flu making early vaccination important. Most people who become ill with the flu recover in about a week's time experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and headache.

Researchers continually study the influenza virus, looking for ways to improve systems of prevention and to someday find a cure. In a recent study published in the FASEB journal, researchers examined the link between the flu infection and selenium deficiency. To find out if a deficiency would increase the potential for infection, two groups of mice were used. One group had sufficient selenium levels, while the other was deficient. Both groups were then infected with a mild strain of the influenza virus. The selenium deficient group developed vast amounts of severe interstitial pneumonitis compared to the sufficient group. The increase was due to alterations in the mRNA levels for cytokines and chemokines, which are responsible for inflammation. The authors concluded that, “adequate nutrition is required for protection against viral infection and (they) suggest that nutritional deprivation may be one of many factors that increase the susceptibility of individuals to influenza infection."2


1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health. The Flu Factsheet. July 2001.
2. Beck MA, et al. Selenium deficiency increases the pathology of an influenza virus infection. FASEB. Apr 2001.