Dietary selenium could be linked to COVID-19 outcomes, study says

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An international team of researchers, led by Margaret Rayman, PhD, at the University of Surrey, has identified a link between the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cure rate and regional selenium status in China, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Examining data from provinces and municipalities with more than 200 cases and cities with more than 40 cases, researchers found that areas with high levels of selenium were more likely to recover from the virus. The researchers found that the COVID-19 cure rate was significantly associated with selenium status, as measured by the amount of selenium in hair, in 17 cities outside of Hubei.

In the city of Enshi in Hubei Province, which has the highest selenium intake in China, the percentage of COVID-19 patients declared cured was almost three-times higher than the average for all the other cities in Hubei Province.

By contrast, in Heilongjiang Province, where selenium intake is among the lowest in the world, the death rate from COVID-19 was almost five-times as high as the average of all the other provinces outside of Hubei, according to the study.

"The correlation we have identified is compelling, particularly given previous research on selenium and infectious diseases,” said Ramy Saad, MD, co-author of the study and physician at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. “As such, a careful and thorough assessment of the role selenium may play in COVID-19 is certainly justified and may help to guide ongoing public-health decisions.”

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