• Cardioprotection;
  • Heart;
  • Oxidative stress;
  • Selenium;
  • Selenoproteins

Selenium, a dietary trace mineral, essential for humans and animals, exerts its effects mainly through its incorporation into selenoproteins. Adequate selenium intake is needed to maximize the activity of selenoproteins, among which glutathione peroxidases have been shown to play a major role in cellular defense against oxidative stress initiated by excess reactive oxygen species. In humans, a low selenium status has been linked to increased risk of various diseases, including heart disease. The main objective of this review is to present current knowledge on the role of selenium in cardiac health. Experimental studies have shown that selenium may exert protective effects on cardiac tissue in animal models involving oxidative stress. Because of the narrow safety margin of this mineral, most interventional studies in humans have reported inconsistent findings. Major determinants of selenium status in humans are not well understood and several nondietary factors might be associated with reduced selenium status. In this review, we discuss recent studies regarding the role of selenoproteins in the cardiovascular system, the effect of dietary intake on selenium status, the impact of selenium status on cardiac health, and the cellular mechanisms that can be involved in the physiological and toxic effects of selenium.