Selenium supplementation does not affect testicular selenium status or semen quality in North American men

Wayne Chris Hawkes, Zeynep Alkan, Kenneth Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Selenium (Se) is essential for sperm function and male fertility, but high Se intake has been associated with impaired semen quality. We reported previously a decrease in sperm motility in men fed high-Se foods, but we could not rule out the influence of other environmental and dietary factors. We now report on a randomized, controlled study on the potential adverse effects of Se supplementation on semen quality in 42 free-living men administered Se (300 μg/d) as high-Se yeast for 48 weeks. Semen analysis was performed 4 times before treatment began, then twice each week during treatment at 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48 weeks, and then after treatment at 72 and 96 weeks. Blood samples were collected 3 times before treatment and at each subsequent visit. Se concentration increased 61% in blood plasma and 49% in seminal plasma. However, Se supplementation had no effect on sperm Se, serum androgen concentrations, or sperm count, motility, progressive velocity, or morphology. We observed progressive decreases in serum luteinizing hormone, semen volume, and sperm Se in both the high-Se and placebo groups. Moreover, sperm straight-line velocity and percent normal morphology increased in Se-treated and placebo-treated participants. The lack of an increase in sperm Se suggests that testicular Se stores were unaffected, even though the participants' dietary Se intake was tripled and their total body Se approximately doubled by supplementation. These results are consistent with animal studies showing the Se status of testes to be unresponsive to dietary Se intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Andrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Cancer chemoprevention
  • Nutrition
  • Sperm motility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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