Dietary Selenium Intake and Subclinical Hypothyroidism: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the ELSA-Brasil Study

Nutrients. 2018 May 30;10(6):693. doi: 10.3390/nu10060693.


Selenium (Se) participates in several enzymatic reactions necessary for regulating the homeostasis of thyroid hormones. We aimed to analyze the association between dietary Se intake and subclinical hypothyroidism. Baseline data from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (Estudo Longitudinal de Saúde do Adulto-ELSA-Brasil) in Brazil were analyzed, with a final sample size of 14,283 employees of both sexes aged 35⁻74 years. Dietary data was collected using a previously validated food frequency questionnaire. Subclinical hypothyroidism was categorized as thyroid-stimulating hormone levels of >4.0 IU/mL and free prohormone thyroxine levels within normal limits, without administering drugs for thyroid disease. A multiple logistic regression model was used to assess the relationship between the presence of subclinical hypothyroidism and tertiles of Se consumption. The prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism in the study sample was 5.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.8⁻7.0%). Compared with the first tertile of Se intake, the second (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.65⁻0.96%) and third (OR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.58⁻0.90%) tertiles were inversely associated with subclinical hypothyroidism, however further research is needed to confirm the involvement of Se in subclinical hypothyroidism using more accurate methodologies of dietary assessment and nutritional status to evaluate this relationship.

Keywords: adults; diet; selenium; subclinical hypothyroidism; thyroid.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asymptomatic Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Deficiency Diseases / ethnology
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology*
  • Deficiency Diseases / physiopathology
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet / ethnology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / epidemiology
  • Hypothyroidism / ethnology
  • Hypothyroidism / etiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status* / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Selenium / administration & dosage
  • Selenium / deficiency*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Universities
  • Workforce


  • Thyrotropin
  • Selenium
  • Thyroxine