A study conducted in China on the elderly population has found a link between a low dietary intake of selenium and a higher prevalence of osteoporosis.
The research has been carried out by a team from Central South University in Hunan, China. Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the UK have also collaborated. The findings of the cross-sectional study have been published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
This is said to be the first study to look at the direct link between dietary selenium intake and osteoporosis. For this, a total of 6,267 study subjects have been selected from those who received health examinations at Xiangya Hospital. The tests were carried out between October 2013 and December 2015. Of those tested, 602 suffered from osteoporosis.
Looking at the steps followed by the Chinese research, first, all subjects responded to a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (SFFQ). It listed 63 foods, all major sources of dietary selenium.
On the other hand, their bone mineral density (BMD) was evaluated using a compact radiographic absorptiometry (RA) system. In this case, the analysis showed that patients with osteoporosis had a lower intake of selenium and calcium in the diet compared to those without.
Taking into account the effects of possible confounders, the researchers adjusted for age, sex, and BMI, and similar observations were made. "In middle-aged and elderly humans, participants with lower levels of dietary selenium intake have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis in a dose-response fashion," the researchers concluded.
Citing previous research, the authors noted that a lack of selenium could increase the level of thyroid hormones in the blood, in turn. Also, this could accelerate bone loss and lead to osteoporosis.
Mechanism of action of selenium
The team explains some mechanisms by which selenium may play a role in lowering the risk of osteoporosis.
The trace element selenium has the ability to inhibit a group of molecules with immune function, cytokines, which stimulate the progression of osteoporosis.
In addition, selenium is part of a group of antioxidant enzymes, which eliminate intracellular reactive oxygen species, which, when accumulated, cause oxidative stress and cell damage.
Therefore, lower levels of selenium can increase oxidative stress, a fact that would have an effect on the progression of osteoporosis.
Conclusions and forecasts
Therefore, the researchers confirmed that the findings could be generalized to the European population. This is because the dietary selenium intake in the study (43.5 μg / day) is similar to that of Europeans (40 μg / day).
While a correlation was detected, the researchers said the study failed to uncover a causal relationship between dietary selenium intake and the prevalence of osteoporosis.
On the other hand, one of the limitations during the study was related to the method of measuring BMD. In this case, BMD was detected in the phalanges with a compact digital AR system, since the gold standard - the use of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry - is an expensive method.
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