Rescue Remedies for Anthrax
Selenium in Halting the Spread of
Nobody knows how the biological agents unleashed by terrorists work or spread. Hence, looking at the role of selenium on the spread of a
virus may show how valuable this mineral is in our arsenal for fighting new germs.
Coxsackie viruses infect more than 20 million people annually in America. It can cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to heart inflammation. Most of these ailments are relatively harmless. So, only about 10,000 infected people ever become ill at any given time.
Coxsackie virus is part of the family of viruses that causes polio in people and foot-and-mouth disease in livestock.
In the 1980s, Chinese researchers noticed a link between a number of viral
diseases- including the Coxsackie virus and hepatitis B -and subtle dietary deficiencies.
Researchers found that coxsackievirus quickly mutates into a deadly, rapidly reproducing strain when an infected person or animal was deficient in selenium or vitamin E. (10,11)
However, this new form didn't mutate in animals eating a selenium-rich diet. Yet, once fully mutated, the virus could infect and be deadly to a human or animal despite the person or beast eating adequate selenium.
Both selenium and vitamin E function as powerful antioxidants.
They protect cells and genetic material (DNA and RNA) against damage from free radicals. A deficiency of either nutrient would leave genes, including the genes of the Coxsackie virus, more vulnerable to mutations caused by free radicals.
Selenium and vitamin E also stimulate the immune system, and the Coxsackie virus infection becomes more dangerous when the immune system is incapable of fighting it. This means the virus goes unchecked and can reproduce faster. Furthermore, the Coxsackie virus is an RNA type of virus, meaning that it lacks the ability (found in DNA) to correct genetic errors. So in the end, the viruses mutate
and multiply faster and faster.
Next Topic: Selenium Deficiency and AIDS
Journal of Medical Virology, 43:66-70, 1994.
Journal of Nutrition 124:345-58, 1994.
Beck, M. A., et al., "Rapid Genomic Evolution of a Non-Virulent Coxsackievirus B3 in Selenium-Deficient Mice Results in Selection of Identical Virulent Isolates," Nature Medicine, May 1995; 1:433-436.