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Selenium and Diabetes continued...

One limitation of that study, however, was that doctors didn’t set out to study type 2 diabetes as an outcome. People were recruited to see if selenium could cut their risk for non-melanomaskin cancer.

Researchers concede that looking at outcomes that weren’t part of the design of the study can muddy the results.

Still, other studies have also suggested an association between selenium and diabetes.

Having a higher selenium level was linked to an increased prevalence of diabetes in adults tracked by the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

In the same vein, a French study found that higher selenium levels were associated with having higher blood sugar levels.

Researchers note that selenium might have an effect on type 2 diabetes because at high levels, it can interfere with the body’s ability to effectively use insulin.

When it comes to taking selenium, “It’s horses for courses,” says Rayman, using a British expression that means what’s suitable for one person or situation might not be suitable for another.

“There wouldn’t be a risk for us, in our population, if we took an extra 200 micrograms of selenium, but if you did that in North America, or in the U.S., then yes, you might well be putting yourself at risk,” she says.

Second Opinion on Supplementing

"I think it’s a balancing act. I think if people have a very strong, varied diet that’s within the 2,000 calorie limit, there may be a case where you don’t need the extra nutrients," says Duffy MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based Council for Responsible Nutrition.

"But in my clinical practice, you see a lot of people with a not-so-varied diet, or for one reason or another they’re very limited in what they eat, and then the multivitamin does a nice job of filling those nutrient gaps," he says.

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