Does Selenium Supplementation Improve Musculoskeletal Health in Older Women?

Sarfaroj Khan 


March 29, 2021


  • Selenium supplementation (200 μg or 50 μg daily) does not affect bone health or physical function in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest that a single nutrient supplementation approach with selenium may be ineffective in improving musculoskeletal health in postmenopausal women.

Study details

  • In this 6-month randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 120 postmenopausal women (age, >55 years) with osteoporosis or osteopenia were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to receive selenite 200 μg, 50 μg or placebo orally once per day.

  • Primary endpoint: between-group difference in the ratio of urine N-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type I collagen (NTx) to creatinine at 26 weeks.

  • Funding: UK National Institute for Health Research Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme.

Key results

  • At 26 weeks, no significant difference was seen between treatment groups in urine NTx to creatinine ratio (nmol bone collagen equivalent:mmol creatinine):

    • placebo: 40.5 (95% CI, 34.9-47.0);

    • selenite 50 μg: 43.4 (95% CI, 37.4-50.0); and

    • selenite 200 μg: 42.2 (95% CI, 37.5-47.6).

  • Mean serum selenium and selenoprotein P increased from baseline to week 26 with selenite 50 μg (both P<.0001) and 200 μg (P<.0001 and P=.0018) vs placebo.

  • There were no differences in bone turnover markers (procollagen type I N polypeptide, osteocalcin, C-terminal crosslinking telopeptide of type I collagen) and grip strength between treatment groups (all P>.05).

  • There was a small difference in the short physical performance battery score with selenite 50 μg (−0.5; P=.037), but not with 200 μg (−0.5; P=.074) vs placebo at 26 weeks.


  • Single-centre study.

  • Only women were included.


Walsh JS, Jacques RM, Schomburg L, Hill TR, Mathers JC, Williams GR, Eastell R. Effect of selenium supplementation on musculoskeletal health in older women: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Healthy Longev. 2021 Mar 23 [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1016/S2666-7568(21)00051-9.  View full text 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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