A Food Standards Agency funded study suggests that selenium, a trace element found in food, helps our immune system defend the body against viruses.
Food Standards Agency advice on selenium remains the same: you can get all you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Foods that are good sources of selenium include brazil nuts, fish, meat and eggs.
If you decide to take selenium supplements it is important not to take too much (no more than 0.35 milligrams a day) because this causes selenosis, a condition that in its mildest form can lead to loss of hair, skin and nails.
Over the past 15-20 years, people in the UK have been eating decreasing amounts of selenium. Current selenium levels in the UK population are still high enough to avoid deficiency diseases, but the FSA is commissioning further research to find out whether the decline in dietary selenium could be affecting overall health. In the meantime, the Agency continues to monitor evidence and take advice from expert committees.