I have been practising and researching nutritional medicine for over 40 years and if anyone asked me “what is the most important nutrient to fight a viral infection?”- I would say without doubt - whether it is a chronic or acute viral infection -  it is selenium. I call selenium “the viral birth control pill” Selenium acts on the genetic material of viruses (its RNA or DNA) and has three highly valuable effects:
  1. Inhibits the ability of the virus to multiply (replicate)
  2. Reduces the ability of the virus to mutate into a more aggressive (virulent) form
  3. Increases the chances that the virus will stay inactive or less active and not harm you
A normally harmless (or low-pathogenic) virus can become much more destructive (virulent) in a person who is selenium deficient. Selenium-deficient mice infected with a mild strain of influenza virus developed much more severe and protracted inflammation of their lungs, compared to selenium-plentiful mice infected with the same virus. A lack of selenium causes a decrease in the production of selenium dependent proteins that keep viruses under control. This is serious and can result in worse outcomes for people infected with many types of nasty viruses including hepatitis A and B viruses, Ebola, polio, AIDS, influenza and the human papilloma virus (which causes cervical and oral cancer). Persons with AIDS have a higher requirement for selenium and unless they supplement with it there will be a steady decline in their blood levels of selenium. This is probably because the immune system uses up the selenium more rapidly to help it fight the AIDS virus. Studies have shown that patients with AIDS who experience more rapid drops in their blood selenium levels do not do as well as those who don’t – the rapid loss of selenium results in a greater chance of developing full blown AIDS and dying from it.

More information on selenium

Researchers like Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer have for many years been accumulating evidence for the potential benefits of selenium, not only against cancer, but also in viral diseases only to be widely ignored by “mainstream” researchers and clinicians. Adequate levels of selenium are necessary for the immune system, and particularly T-cells, to function properly. In the most recent studies, there is compelling evidence that selenium status is actually a significant predictor of outcome in HIV infection, and that the relative risk for mortality is much higher in selenium deficient patients. A striking example of potential selenoprotein genes in a virus is provided by the highly pathogenic Zaire strain of Ebola virus. Infection with Ebola Zaire is likely to place an unprecedented demand for selenium on an infected individual, potentially causing a more drastic selenium depletion in a matter of days. A potential role for selenium is highly consistent with key aspects of Ebola pathology, including its effects on selenium rich tissues like blood cells and liver, and the hemorrhaging due to rupture of capillaries obstructed by blood clots (because selenium normally plays a role in inhibiting clotting, and selenium deficiency has been associated with thrombosis and even hemorrhaging in extreme cases in animals). I believe that the danger of serious toxicity with selenium supplementation has been exaggerated. The threat of serious acute toxicity with supplementation is in my opinion nonexistent at doses less than 1000 mcg per day, and in several studies people in certain geographical locations have been shown to be ingesting from 600 to over 700 mcg per day for extended periods of time without evidencing any ill effects - in northern Greenland, as much as 1000 mcg per day in some individuals. Thus, doses in the 400 mcg range are undoubtedly safe. In any case, the signs of chronic selenium toxicity - garlic odor of breath and sweat, metallic taste in mouth, brittle hair and fingernails - are very distinctive, and easily reversed by lowering the dose. We must seriously consider evidence suggesting that there may be a global trend towards a decrease of selenium in the food chain, caused by various factors, including modern agricultural practices, fossil fuel burning and acid rain. Studies have shown that selenium levels in the British diet have decreased by almost 50% over the last 22 years. If dietary selenium levels have decreased so drastically over 22 years in Britain, a wealthy and highly developed nation, then what is the situation in rapidly developing Third World countries? In light of the evidence showing that selenium deficiency is associated with adverse outcomes in viral infections, and can foster the emergence of more virulent viral strains, any localized or global depletion of selenium in the food chain could be a significant factor contributing to our increased susceptibility to emerging viral diseases. Selenium deficiency is very common because the soils in many parts of the world are low in this vital mineral. Along with selenium, I typically notice many of my patients are low in vitamin D and iodine. These nutrients help to support a healthy immune system, healthy thyroid gland and healthy hormone levels. An inflamed gut which is not able to absorb nutrients that are required for immune competence is very common and can be caused by celiac disease, food intolerance, Candida infection, high sugar diets and several other factors that create leaky gut syndrome. Glutamine is very good for healing the gut lining and improving nutrient absorption. My new Selenomune Designer Energy capsules contain organic selenium (as Selenopure Selenomethionine, L-Selenomethionine and Sodium Selenite). There is 200 mcg of selenium per capsule along with other immune supporting nutrients including vitamin C, iodine, zinc and several others.  One to two capsules per day provides a powerful dose of selenium to help the body fight viral infections.   References available on request. The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.