Effect of supplementation with organic selenium on mercury status as measured by mercury in pubic hair

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2000 Jun;14(2):84-7. doi: 10.1016/S0946-672X(00)80035-8.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of four months of yeast-based selenium supplementation on selenium and mercury status in subjects with low serum selenium. The study was carried out in Rakvere, Estonia. Pubic hair mercury, serum selenium and blood selenium concentrations in 23 subjects (serum selenium < 90 micrograms/l) were investigated before and after selenium supplementation. Thirteen subjects were randomized into the selenium supplementation group and ten into the placebo group. The selenium supplementation group received daily 100 micrograms of selenomethionine. Selenium supplementation reduced pubic hair mercury level by 34% (p = 0.005) and elevated serum selenium by 73% and blood selenium by 59% in the supplemented group (p < 0.001 for both). The study indicates that mercury accumulation in pubic hair can be reduced by dietary supplementation with small daily amounts of organic selenium in a short range of time.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Hair / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mercury / metabolism*
  • Placebos
  • Random Allocation
  • Selenium / blood*
  • Selenium / metabolism
  • Selenium / therapeutic use*
  • Selenomethionine / metabolism


  • Placebos
  • Selenomethionine
  • Mercury
  • Selenium