SelenoExcell has been available on the market for a number of years, and is produced through a fermentation process using the Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, selected for its 50 to 55 percent protein content and optimal growth perimeters.
Until now, sales have been focused in North America, with a current distribution agreement also covering Japan. The new agreement will shore up the ingredient's presence on the global market, and take it into areas where selenium gleaned from the diet is lower than it is in the US and Canada.
Since Garuda has its own portfolio of nutraceutical ingredients that are sold on a worldwide basis, it already has the infrastructure in place to sell SelenoExcell in Cypress' main targets, Asia and Europe.
In addition to targeting the dietary supplement and specialty nutrition market, Garuda's brief is also to distribute the ingredient for use in functional foods. This month the way was cleared for this use in the US, with the completion of a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) assessment.
Paul Willis of Cypress told NutraIngredients-USA.com that SelenoExcell is a natural food form yeast, so it sits very well in functional foods.
"With saturation of the supplement-type market people are beginning to look more at the nutritional factors in functional foods," he said.
Selenium may not have made as much of an impression on consumer consciousness as other minerals such as calcium, for instance, but the science has shown it plays an important role in health maintenance - and particularly in cancer prevention. It is included in between 50 and 100 different proteins in the body, with multifarious roles including building heart muscles and healthy sperm.
Selenium is a trace element that occurs naturally in the soil and is absorbed by plants and crops, from where it enters the human food chain - either directly or through consumption of meat and other products from grazing animals. However different regions have different levels of selenium in their soils.
North American soil is naturally rich in selenium, meaning grains like wheat that are grown there have a higher content of the nutrient. Wheat grown in selenium-poor Europe, on the other hand, has lower selenium levels.
Trade restrictions mean that Europe favours EU-grown wheat over American, but this means that many Europeans are failing to consume adequate quantities.
"We live in a global world now," said Willis. "We need to think globally, and think about where we have issues with selenium consumption."
It is very difficult for a consumer to judge how much selenium they are consuming. For this reason, the mineral is sold as a stand-alone supplement and in multivitamin formulations.
But Willis said that although high cancer risk people tend to be aware of the benefits of selenium, the general public is not as focused on prevention as it is on weight loss and anti-aging, for instance.
"It is a tough call to get people to believe they may be at risk," he said.
In the US, the minimum recommended daily intake (RDI) of selenium is 70 micrograms and the tolerable upper limit is 400 micrograms. Most SelenoExcell supplements on the market use a mid-range dosage of 200 micrograms.
The European RDI is 65 micrograms but in the UK, for example, average daily intake is now around only 34 micrograms per day.
Willis also stressed that his company decided to enter into an agreement with Garuda as it was impressed with its emphasis on science-backed ingredients and insistence on quality.
Cypress' SelenoExcell is currently being used in several health-related randomized, double-blind trials, including several cancer prevention trials (colon, lung and prostate cancers).
Although the company is not able to discuss the details of these trials in detail lest it jeopardize the integrity of the results, they are being funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense and other private-funding organizations.