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Sleep and Diet: Why Sleep Matters for Wellbeing and its Links with Nutrition - BOOK HEREE

A natural mineral - selenium - may help reverse memory loss

by University of Queensland


Selenium—a mineral found in many foods—could reverse the cognitive impact of stroke and boost learning and memory in ageing brains, according to new research


This animal study found that the ability to create new brain cells to replace those damaged by age, or by stroke, in older animals can be boosted by supplementation with the essential mineral selenium, in addition to exercise.

Exercise is well known to boost production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) - a substance that promotes the growth of brain and nerve cells.  Similarly, the availability of specific nutrients (most notably the long-chain omega-3, DHA, found in fish and seafood) boosts BDNF, and is required for 'neurogenesis' - the production of new brain cells. 

Findings from this study indicate that selenium levels can also influence this process - so may be important in supporting brain health and preventing age-related memory and learning problems.

Neurogenesis is thought to be possible only in some brain regions, such as the hippocampus - important for memory and cognition, but failures of this process are implicated in age-related cognitive decline and dementia, and in depression.

Importantly - although selenium is an essential trace mineral that must be provided by diet, it can be toxic in excess.  For accessible and evidence-based information on selenium, see:  


For details of the underlying research study:

For further information on how multi-nutrient supplementation may help prevent age-related cognitive decline and dementia in humans, please see this report on a large-scale controlled clinical trial in humans:

See also:

07/02/2022 - Medical Xpress

Selenium—a mineral found in many foods—could reverse the cognitive impact of stroke and boost learning and memory in ageing brains, according to University of Queensland research.

Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) lead researcher Dr. Tara Walker said studies on the impact of exercise on the aging brain found levels of a protein key to transporting selenium in the blood were elevated by physical activity.

"We've known for the last 20 years that exercise can create new neurons in the brain, but we didn't really understand how," Dr. Walker said.

The research team investigated whether dietary selenium supplements could replicate the effects of exercise.

"Our models showed that selenium supplementation could increase neuron generation and improve cognition in elderly mice," Dr. Walker said.

"The levels of new neuron generation decrease rapidly in aged mice, as they do in humans.

"When selenium supplements were given to the mice, the production of neurons increased, reversing the cognitive deficits observed in aging."

Selenium is an essential trace mineral absorbed from soil and water and is found in foods such as grains, meat and nuts, with the highest levels found in Brazil nuts.

The scientists also tested whether selenium would have an impact on the cognitive decline sometimes experienced following stroke, which can affect people's memory and ability to learn.

"Young mice are really good at the learning and memory tasks, but after a stroke, they could no longer perform these tasks," Dr. Walker said.

"We found that learning and memory deficits of stroke affected mice returned to normal when they were given selenium supplements."

Dr. Walker said the results opened a new therapeutic avenue to boost cognitive function in people who were unable to exercise due to poor health or old age.

"However, selenium supplements shouldn't be seen as a complete substitute for exercise, and too much can be bad for you," she said.

"A person who is getting a balanced diet of fruits, nuts, veggies and meat usually has good selenium levels.

"But in older people, particularly those with neurological conditions, selenium supplements could be beneficial."