Selenium crucial for healthy pregnancy and infant development: Cypress Systems


30 Apr 2018 --- Although the micronutrient folic acid has received the most amount of attention around conception, new research is demonstrating that selenium may be just as important, if not even more important, Cypress Systems CEO Paul Willis tells NutritionInsight. The biotech company has compiled an extensive Executive Summary on selenium and pregnancy, highlighting the micronutrient’s role in a healthy pregnancy and infant development. Specifically, high-selenium yeast reduces the risk of preterm births and preeclampsia, the company notes, calling for further research and industry and consumer education over why standardized, body-ready selenium should be in maternal supplements.

“This important role that selenium plays in the development of a healthy baby is not surprising once one realizes that this micromineral is essential for optimal antioxidant protection, which protects every cell in the human body including DNA, as well as being essential for a healthy immune function, proper DNA synthesis, healthy thyroid hormone production, and thus metabolism, as well as reproduction,” Willis tells NutritionInsight.

Pregnant women with low selenium levels have been found to have more than a two-fold greater risk of having a preterm birth (births at less than 37 weeks). In addition, women with low selenium levels also have more than a four-fold greater risk of pre-eclampsia, which is not only associated with high blood pressure but also a major cause of preterm birth. Lastly, low selenium levels are also associated with miscarriages, neural tube defects, glucose intolerance/gestational diabetes, lipid abnormalities and greater inflammation, according to Willis.  

Conversely, pregnant women with higher maternal selenium have an increased chance of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy along with the delivery of a healthy baby, including babies who have, or will have, higher cognitive function and neurological development having higher IQ’s and greater learning abilities. Interestingly, one of the mechanisms by which having optimal selenium levels helps with the development of healthy babies is by counteracting the negative effects of heavy metals, such as lead, which selenium can bind to and helps get rid of it. Thus, it is quite clear from all of the research above just how important this essential micromineral is to the development of a healthy baby.

“To capture greater market share, maternal supplement formulators will want to use SelenoExcell standardized high-selenium yeast because it is the most bioavailable form of this important nutrient. At just US$.003 per 100 mcg dose, SelenoExcell is also an affordable way to improve a maternal supplement’s efficacy,” says Willis.

Although the FDA does not recommend a specific form of selenium, recent reviews indicate that organically bound selenium – such as high-selenium yeast – is better absorbed and retained compared with inorganic forms such as selenite and selenite, Willis states. 

“Current evidence suggests that organically bound high selenium yeast is 1.5 to 2 times more bioavailable than the inorganic forms. Additionally, it has been shown that food form high selenium yeast, such as SelenoExcell, is retained longer in the body than the inorganic forms,” Willis explains. 
“SelenoExcell has the deepest bibliography of research. In fact, most people quoting selenium research and its functionality are doing it based on the foundational research using our standardized form of organically bound selenium,” says Willis. “Form makes a difference. Body-ready, protein-bound selenium uses the body’s most natural pathway, making it the most efficacious food form of this mineral.” 

SelenoExcell has been standardized with The Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute and is supported by a Clinical Trial Agreement (CTA). “It has withstood the rigors of Gold Standard Clinical Research. We’ve been involved with clinical cancer prevention work for the last 25 years.” 

Selenium has a qualified US health claim linking its consumption with reduction in the risk of certain forms of cancer. 
In 2009, SelenoExcell received an FDA Letter of No Objection confirming that the FDA does not have questions about its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status. Cypress Systems is now in the process of completing a new GRAS application specific to infant formulas. 

“In 2015, the FDA mandated that selenium be included in all infant formulas by 2017,” explains Willis. “While most of the existing formulas were grandfathered with their use of sodium selenite, ideally we’ll see a shift to using the more efficacious SelenoExcell in baby formulas.” 

Future research avenues
“Future research opportunities resulting from the clinical data showing supplemental selenium in the form of high-selenium yeast are quite broad, ranging from investigating the effects of such a supplement on reducing the incidence of autism to increasing the health of HIV infected individuals to further substantiating the effects on reducing the incidence of cancer deaths and the incidence of various cancers,” Willis notes. “In addition, there are several research opportunities to investigate the potential synergistic effects of SelenoExcell with other nutraceuticals for a variety of different indications ranging from thyroid support to immune function to cardiovascular health to cognition.”

By Lucy Gunn

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