Growing numbers of Americans are reaching their senior years and cognitive impairment is becoming a chief concern. Many seniors understand that maintaining brain function is key to their quality of life as they get older, with solid evidence showing that declining cognitive function leads to a downward spiral, including loss of autonomy and eventual institutionalization. The need for preventative strategies to reduce or delay onset of cognitive impairment is now paramount. With expanding evidence of selenium’s connection to both normal brain function and its importance for maintenance of brain health with age, companies are now developing brain health formulas featuring selenium as a timely strategy to help avert this public health crisis.
Selenium works as a powerful antioxidant that is demonstrated to be a protective agent against free radicals through enhanced activity. Selenium is present in the amino acid selenocysteine, which contains at least 25 selenoproteins. These proteins play a critical role throughout the body impacting thyroid metabolism, reproduction, DNA synthesis and immunity. It is also well-documented that selenium is important for healthy brain function. According to a 2014 study, selenium and selenoprotein syntheses is critical for normal brain function and selenium deficiency correlates with lower cognitive function.
For supplement developers looking to capitalize on this trend, it is also important to note that not all selenium forms in supplements are well utilized by the body. There is ample evidence that selenium-enriched yeast (Se yeast) is far superior to other forms with respect to bioavailability. One study that looked specifically at the effects of selenium on brain metastases in rats found that the different chemical forms had different impacts on the tumors, and that selenium in the form of Se-yeast decreased the growth of metastatic tumors. The researchers concluded that Se-yeast in particular may be a valuable agent in suppression of brain metastatic disease. Direct comparisons between SelenoExcell®, a proprietary high-selenium yeast and selenomethionine (SeMet), found that the SelenoExcell outperformed the SeMet in healthy men for both bioavailability and bioefficacy.