Selenium and Metabolic Disorders: An Emphasis on Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Nutrients. 2016 Feb 6;8(2):80. doi: 10.3390/nu8020080.


Selenium (Se) is a micronutrient that maintains biological functions through the action of Se containing proteins known as selenoproteins. Due to the known antioxidant effects of Se, supplements containing Se have been on the rise. While Se supplementation may be beneficial for Se deficient populations, few are at risk for Se deficiency due to the transportation of food from Se-rich regions and the rise of Se-enriched foods. Alarmingly, Se supplementation may have adverse effects in people who already receive an adequate Se supply. Specifically, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes has been reported in individuals with high baseline Se levels. However, this effect was restricted to males, suggesting the relationship between Se and glucose homeostasis may be sexually dimorphic. This review will discuss the current understanding of the interaction between Se and glucose homeostasis, including any sex differences that have been described.

Keywords: metabolic disease; selenium; selenoproteins; trace element.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / adverse effects*
  • Selenium / blood
  • Trace Elements / administration & dosage
  • Trace Elements / adverse effects
  • Trace Elements / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Trace Elements
  • Selenium