Interest in immune-linked ingredients like selenium to persist after pandemic passes, supplier asserts

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Cypress Systems produces its SelenoExcell selenium ingredient via a proprietary strain of yeast.  Cypress Systems photo
Cypress Systems produces its SelenoExcell selenium ingredient via a proprietary strain of yeast. Cypress Systems photo

Related tags Selenium Yeast Minerals Immune cells immune function

A deeper commitment to everyday immune health will buoy select ingredients in the post pandemic world, especially for older consumers, a selenium supplier asserts.

Paul Willis, founder and CEO of Cypress Systems, said the large body of science backing the immune support ingredients will continue to support those ingredients once the global pandemic crisis recedes.  Cypress Systems supplies SelenoExcell,  an organic selenium supplement originates from a non-pathogenic, non-GMO Saccharomyces cerevisiae ​yeast strain.  

Selenium has long been associated with optimum immune system performance.  But in recent years Cypress Systems has pushed other important benefits of the ingredient, including during the first 1,000 days of life​ that covers mothers and infants from conception through to toddlerhood.

Pandemic puts selenium’s immune function at center stage

But during the pandemic the spotlight has switched firmly back to immune health. A report from July 2020 showed that basal selenium levels were associated with better COVID-19 outcomes in China​.  Another study from January of this year found that more COVID-19 patients in India were deficient in selenium​.

All of this information and more has been assembled by a group headed by Willis in a scientific dossier made available to potential customers.

“We have been working with some of the leading research groups in the US and have compiled a comprehensive review of selenium’s role in immune health and viral infections.  There is a significant amount of research that shows that individuals with a selenium deficiency have a much higher risk of not only contracting COVID-19 but of having more severe infections,”​ Willis told NutraIngredients-USA​.

“That’s even more true in the most vulnerable group, those individuals who are 65 years old or older,”​ he added.

Glutathione levels depend on selenium

Willis said selenium is a key factor in the operation of immune system is glutathione, something that has been known for a while.  A report from the year 2000 in the journal Proceedings of the Nutrition Society​ had this to say: “The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have a delicately balanced intermediate level of glutathione. Even moderate changes in the intracellular glutathione level have profound effects on lymphocyte functions.”

What’s become clear as well, Willis said, is the critical role selenium plays as a cofactor for glutathione.

“It’s so important that you often seen the phrase used ‘selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase,’ which is critical for the energy transfer that has to happen for the immune response to take place properly,”​ Willis said.

Arresting immunosenescence

Selenium also plays a role in maintaining immune system performance as people age, and helping to forestall the development of large numbers of senescent cells in this tissue and others in the body.  Senescent cells are ones that continue on in a zombie-like state in which their biological function declines and they no longer divide to give rise to new, youthful cells.  As more of these senescent cells accumulate, the performance of tissues and organs degrades over time.

“They become like the rotten apple in the basket and start affecting the other cells. Selenium status plays a significant role in that process,” ​Willis said.

Interest in mineral likely to persist

For this and other reasons, Willis believes the current heightened awareness of selenium will persist for consumers.  An increased focus on selenium’s immune system benefits will also help bring a light to the mineral’s other effects important for older consumers, such as its well documented association with the risk of developing prostate cancer​. And he said the form of the ingredient his company supplies means Cypress Systems will be well placed to benefit from that trend.

“Most people quoting selenium research and its functionality are doing it based on the foundational research using our standardized form of organically bound selenium,”​ Willis said. “Form makes a difference. Body-ready, protein-bound selenium uses the body’s most natural pathway, making it the most efficacious food form of this mineral.” 

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