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This Supplement May Help Protect You Against Obesity, New Study Says

New research suggests selenium could be the ticket to living a longer, healthier life.

Many Americans take vitamins and minerals in the form of a supplement on a daily basis. Whether it's to help improve skin health or keep the immune system in optimal condition, there are many benefits of taking a supplement. Right now, the spotlight is on one such mineral for its potential ability to protect against obesity.

According to new research published in eLife, adding selenium to your diet may help protect against obesity—at least, that was the case for mice. The results from this study may lead to interventions that reproduce many of the anti-aging effects associated with dietary restriction—only without having to remove any of your favorite foods from your diet. That sounds like a dream, right? (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now)

One proven method for increasing a healthy lifespan is restricting the intake of a sulfur-containing amino acid called methionine found primarily in eggs, chicken, beef, and dairy products. A vegan diet may be the best way to avoid overconsumption of methionine; but this lifestyle isn't attainable or desirable for everyone. So, researchers aimed to create an intervention that would elicit similar effects as a low-methionine diet without requiring a change in eating patterns.

Previous research in rats had indicated that selenium may decrease an energy-regulating hormone called IGF-1 just like a reduction in methionine does. This led the team of researchers to test whether selenium supplementation could offer the same protection against obesity as methionine restriction.

To test out their theory, they fed young male and older female mice one of three high-fat diets: a diet containing normal amounts of methionine (this was the control group); a methionine-restricted diet; and a diet containing normal amounts of methionine, plus a source of selenium.

The authors found that selenium supplementation completely protected mice of any age and sex against the dramatic weight gain and fat accumulation experienced by the mice on the control diet. In fact, it was just as effective as the diet that restricted methionine altogether.

They also discovered that the mice treated with selenium supplementation had significantly reduced levels of IGF-1 in addition to a reduction in leptin, a hormone that controls food intake and energy expenditure.

So, is it possible that taking selenium supplements could protect you against a chronic disease like obesity? Right now, the research has only been conducted on mice, so clinical trials would be needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

In the interim, why not take a selenium supplement? The mineral (which is rich in Brazil nuts!) has antioxidant properties that help lower oxidative stress and inflammation in your body, which can increase immune function. Just be sure to clear taking the supplement with your doctor to make sure it won't interfere with any other medications.

For more, be sure to check out 80% of Americans Are Deficient in This Mineral That Controls Sugar Cravings.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Read more about Cheyenne