Adequate selenium in pregnancy can protect mothers' health later in life, supplier says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Budding yeast during fermentation. Photo: Cypress Systems
Budding yeast during fermentation. Photo: Cypress Systems

Related tags Pregnant women Pregnancy Mineral Selenium

Adequate selenium levels can help babies get the best start in life, but they are critical to a mother’s long term health, too, a supplier says.

Cypress Systems, a supplier of a selenium ingredient produced by yeast that is branded as SelenoExcell, has put together a peer-reviewed executive summary on the mineral’s benefits in the so-called ‘first 1,000’ days of life, which includes the time from conception through a baby’s development as a toddler

According to pediatrician Dr Bill Sears, MD, a noted expert on maternal health who is familiar with Cypress Systems' selenium research, the benefits for mothers and babies are well supported.

Benefits for pregnancy becoming better known

Studies have also shown that higher maternal blood levels of selenium were associated with higher language and motor skills in infants and improved cognitive development in school-age children,” ​Dr. Sears said.

“Pregnant women who were low in selenium and who supplemented with 60-100 micrograms selenium daily (from high-selenium yeast) experienced the following benefits: a 60% reduced risk of having a pre-term birth due to premature rupture of membranes, 70% reduced risk of preeclampsia and 65% reduced risk of IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) if they were already at high risk. Health benefits of selenium were shown to be higher in organically bound selenium such as high-selenium yeast,”​ he added.

Paul Willis, CEO of Madera, CA-based Cypress Systems, said the white paper was put together to convey this sometimes-complicated message about the importance of selenium. While his company has had long experience with the mineral, they have learned things themselves along the way, he said.

“As we have developed the executive summary, we have really talked about this as a living document. We continue to build out this story,”​ Willis told NutraIngredients-USA.

Long term health of mothers

Willis said one of the heretofore unmentioned benefits of selenium supplementation became apparent as the company did the research to put together the summary.

Giving birth is a taxing situation for mothers, and not just in a purely physical sense. Complications that can arise, such as preeclampsia, can have implications years down the road.

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, the condition affects as least 5% to 8% of all pregnancies. It is a rapidly progressing condition that is characterized by high blood pressure.

Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision can be symptoms, but some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

In addition to preventing preterm births, the lessening of preeclampsia prevalence is an important target all on its own, Willis said. According the foundation, mothers who experience preeclampsia have a doubled risk of stroke and heart disease and four times the risk of developing of high blood pressure later in life. The group says that two of three women who experience preeclampsia will eventually die from cardiovascular disease.

“That’s another message that we want to bring, and that is that if you can prevent these issues in pregnancy, you can lessen all of these health problems later in life,”​ Willis said.

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