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Kidney stones can be related to lack of selenium

Kidney stones can be related to lack of seleniumKidney stones is a painful and quite common problem. The diet plays a major role and according to a large American population study published in Nutrients, selenium may help prevent the condition. The authors mention that selenium-containing proteins and antioxidants have preventative mechanisms and due to the widespread problems with selenium-depleted farmland, they say that selenium supplementation may be a good way to prevent and manage kidney stones and other pathological changes.

According to the large American population study NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Study 2007-2018), around 12% of men and 10% of women have had kidney stones. This painful condition lowers quality of life and comes with a huge socio-economic price tag. Different things can cause kidney stones, and the problem is linked to genes, gender, overweight, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.
Diet plays a major role, and previous studies have shown that kidney stones are linked to shortages of different vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. In the current study, the researchers wanted to take a closer look at the link between selenium deficiency and kidney stones.
The new study was based on analyses of data from the American NHANES study and included 5,070 eligible participants aged 20 years and older. A total of 490 of the participants reported having a medical history of kidney stones. The scientists also measured levels of selenium in the blood of the participants.
They found an inverse relation between serum selenium levels and the risk of developing kidney stones. The group with the lowest selenium levels had the highest risk of developing kidney stones. According to the researchers, this is the first study to link kidney stones to the body’s selenium status. They concluded that selenium may have a positive effect.

How does selenium protect against kidney stones?

Selenium is an essential trace element and supports well over 25 different selenoproteins that control important functions such as the energy turnover, thyroid function, and a number of other things. The scientists mention animal studies where it has been seen that selenium counteracts the formation of calcium oxalate, which is the major structural component of kidney stones. The scientists also point out that selenium is a vital part of important antioxidant systems that protect kidneys against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between potentially harmful free radicals and protective antioxidants. Oxidative stress increases as a result of ageing, poisoning, smoking, overweight, and chronic disease. Antioxidants represent our only defense against free radicals and the pathological chain reactions that they cause, and selenium plays a key role in the protection of cells. The scientists observed that the risk of kidney stones was very low if the selenium in blood was around 137.5 mcg/L.

How to get enough selenium

Some of the best selenium sources are nuts (Brazil nuts in particular), eggs, offal, and fish. The selenium content in the sol determines the selenium content in food, and the dietary selenium levels can vary quite a lot from one part of the world to another. In the United States, where the selenium contains a lot of selenium, the population generally gets plenty of selenium from wholegrains and other food items, as opposed to Europeans. In Europe, there is very little selenium in the agricultural soil, and it may be challenging for Europeans to get enough selenium even with a balanced diet. Many people benefit from taking a selenium supplement as a way of preventing kidney stones.


Anni Wang et al. Relationship between Serum Selenium Level and Self-Reported History of Kidney Stone. Nutrients.

Aparna Shreenath. Selenium Deficiency. StatPearls. 2019

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