Selenium supplementation provides healthspan benefits in mice

Selenium supplementation provides healthspan benefits in mice

Written by Timothy Huzar on April 6, 2021 — Fact checked by Harriet Pike, Ph.D.
Share on PinterestResearchers hope that the healthspan benefits of selenium supplementation in mice will translate into humans. Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

  • Researchers have shown that methionine-restricted diets improve the healthspan of some mammals.
  • Research has suggested this is because methionine restriction reduces the signaling of the hormone IGF-1.
  • Studies also show that selenium reduces IGF-1 signaling in some mammals.
  • In the present study, the researchers wanted to see if mice receiving selenium supplementation would experience the healthspan benefits seen in methionine-restricted diets.

Researchers have shown that mice receiving selenium supplementation experience healthspan benefits, including protection against diet-induced obesity.

The study, published in the journal eLife, lays the groundwork for future research to see if similar effects occur in humans.

Healthspan

Human lifespans have significantly increased over the past 200 years. However, there are still inequalities associated with people’s relative lifespans. Further, a person’s health also varies during these additional years.

Researchers have recently focused on the concept of healthspan as a way of talking about the number of relatively healthy years a person experiences.

Given the general increase in lifespans, it is also important to increase peoples’ healthspan. The benefits of a longer life reduce if a person spends those additional years experiencing mental or physical health issues.

One possible way to improve healthspan in mammals is to restrict consumption of the amino acid methionine. Researchers have shown that mammals fed a methionine-restricted diet have increased healthspans, with fewer pathologies that typically develop with age.

For example, researchers found that mice fed a high fat, methionine-restricted diet saw complete protection against obesity. However, they did experience some loss in bone density

Researchers believe it may be possible to translate some of the benefits of methionine-restricted diets in non-human animals to humans.

Meat, fish, and dairy products contain methionine, so following a vegan diet may be one way humans can restrict their intake of this amino acid.

Despite the significant benefits to human health and environmental sustainability associated with plant-based diets, such as veganism, not all people may be willing or able to make the switch.

As such, researchers want to find out whether it is possible to achieve the benefits of a methionine-restricted diet in other ways.

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