By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 30 March 2012)
Antioxidants are substances that prevent cells from being damaged by free radicals, which can cause inflammation and illness. Levels of certain antioxidants, including selenium, tend to be lower in autistic individuals (McGinnis, 2005; Priya & Geetha, 2010). The Autism Canada Foundation (n.d.) states that: “Selenium is essential for the production of glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx or GPX) which is a major detoxifier of chemical toxins, including insecticides, petrochemicals, and other natural and man-made toxic chemicals.”
It’s possible that some children with autism might benefit from selenium supplementation (overseen by a doctor), but there have been no studies carried out to determine whether or not selenium provides any benefits or carries any risks for autistic individuals.
Natural Sources of Selenium
It’s always best to obtain nutrients via natural sources whenever possible, because they tend to work synergistically with other nutrients. Good natural sources of selenium include:
- Brazil nuts
- Enriched bread
Other Autism Supplements
For more on the effectiveness of other supplements for treating autistic spectrum disorders, see the main Autism Supplements page. For a full list of articles on autism and Asperger’s syndrome, visit the main Autistic Spectrum Disorders page.
Always consult a qualified medical practitioner before taking supplements or giving them to your child. Many supplements are toxic at certain doses and may interact with some medications or create problems for people with certain medical conditions.
This article is not intended as a substitute for medical consultation or care. Health concerns should be referred to a doctor.
- Autism Canada Foundation. (n.d.). “Selenium.” AutismCanada.org.
- McGinnis, W.R., MD. (2005). “Oxidative Stress in Autism: What Parents Should Know.” ASA’s 36th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-16, 2005).
- Priya, L., MD, & Geetha, a. (2010). “Level of Trace Elements (Copper, Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium) and Toxic Elements (Lead and Mercury) in the Hair and Nail of Children with Autism.” Biological Trace Element Research [Epub Ahead of Print].
- Linday, Dr. (24 June 2010). “Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions: Ear Infections, Cod Liver Oil, and Selenium: It Is Difficult to Find a Vitamin/Mineral Preparation for Children That Contains Selenium. Why Is Selenium Important?” DrLinday.com.
- Strickland, E., MS, RD, LD. (2009). Eating for Autism: The 10-Step Nutrition Plan to Help Treat Your Child’s Autism, Asperger’s, or ADHD. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA.