Michael Mooney's Comment:
This study showed that supplementation with selenium can help to improve T-cell counts in people with HIV. This study was funded by the makers of Selenomax. Be aware that claims that other forms of selenium will not work are incorrect. The manufacturer would like you to believe that Selenomax is the only type of selenium that you should take, but other forms of selenium are effective, including selenite. (See my review of selenium forms.)
This study looked at a dose of 200 mcg per day, but higher doses could work better. Some experts have recommended 600 mcg per day as ideal for people with HIV. The US Government's Lowest Observed Adverse Level (LOAEL) is 910 mcg. The LOAEL is defined as dose used long term where "toxicity may occur, rarely, but in some sensitive subgroups it does apply." Ideally, you would ask your doctor for a selenium blood test and find an optimal level by testing.
Also note that it is easy to get excellent selenium by eating Brazil nuts. They contain about 50 mcg of highly absorbable selenium per nut.
Suppression of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Viral Load With Selenium Supplementation
A Randomized Controlled Trial (To read full text, click here.)
Barry E. Hurwitz, PhD; Johanna R. Klaus, PhD; Maria M. Llabre, PhD; Alex Gonzalez, BA; Peter J. Lawrence, MS; Kevin J. Maher, PhD; Jeffrey M. Greeson, PhD; Marianna K. Baum, PhD; Gail Shor-Posner, PhD; Jay S. Skyler, MD; Neil Schneiderman, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:148-154.
Background Despite findings that selenium supplementation may improve immune functioning, definitive evidence of its impact on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease severity is lacking.
Methods High selenium yeast supplementation (200 mcg per day) was evaluated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Intention-to-treat analyses assessed the effect on HIV-1 viral load and CD4 count after 9 months of treatment. Unless otherwise indicated, values are presented as mean ± SD.
Results Of the 450 HIV-1–seropositive men and women who underwent screening, 262 initiated treatment and 174 completed the 9-month follow-up assessment. Mean adherence to study treatment was good (73.0% ± 24.7%) with no related adverse events. The intention-to-treat analyses indicated that the mean change () in serum selenium concentration increased significantly in the selenium -treated group and not the placebo-treated group ( = 32.2 ± 24.5 vs 0.5 ± 8.8 µg/L; P<.001), and greater levels predicted decreased HIV-1 viral load (P<.02), which predicted increased CD4 count (P<.04). Findings remained significant after covarying age, sex, ethnicity, income, education, current and past cocaine and other drug use, HIV symptom classification, antiretroviral medication regimen and adherence, time since HIV diagnosis, and hepatitis C virus coinfection. Follow-up analyses evaluating treatment effectiveness indicated that the nonresponding selenium -treated subjects whose serum selenium change was less than or equal to 26.1 µg/L displayed poor treatment adherence (56.8% ± 29.8%), HIV-1 viral load elevation ( = +0.29 ± 1.1 log 10 units), and decreased CD4 count ( = –25.8 ± 147.4 cells/µL). In contrast, selenium -treated subjects whose serum selenium increase was greater than 26.1 µg/L evidenced excellent treatment adherence (86.2% ± 13.0%), no change in HIV-1 viral load ( = –0.04 ± 0.7 log 10 units), and an increase in CD4 count ( = +27.9 ± 150.2 cells/µL).
Conclusions Daily selenium supplementation can suppress the progression of HIV-1 viral burden and provide indirect improvement of CD4 count. The results support the use of selenium as a simple, inexpensive, and safe adjunct therapy in HIV spectrum disease.