Background: Selenium is known to be important to the brain. Three small, published studies have suggested an effect of selenium supplementation or deprivation on mood in healthy volunteers. We investigated these findings on a much larger scale.
Methods: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention, 501 UK participants aged 60-74 were randomly allocated to receive 100, 200 or 300 microg selenium/d as high-selenium yeast or placebo yeast. Mood (Profile of Moods States - Bipolar Form [POMS-BI] questionnaire), "quality of life" (Short Form 36 [SF-36] questionnaire) and plasma selenium were measured at baseline and six months.
Results: Supplementation significantly increased plasma selenium above baseline values: from an overall mean (SD) of 90(19) ng/g to 91(26), 144(27), 191(41) and 227(53) ng/g in the placebo, 100, 200, 300 microg selenium groups respectively (p < .001). Four hundred forty-eight participants completed the POMS-BI questionnaires at both time points, with no significant differences in total mood or mood-subscale scores seen between doses. After six months of supplementation, mean (SD) total mood scores for the four doses were 163(36), 161(37), 162(33), 162(34), F(3,443) = .25, p = .86. Quality of life was similarly unaffected.
Conclusions: There was no evidence that selenium supplementation benefited mood or quality of life in these elderly volunteers. Though this is at odds with some previous results, our robust study design, much larger sample size and longer supplementation period, together with the evidence that the brain is a privileged site for selenium retention, suggest that this is a reliable finding.