Selenium Intake is Related to Beck’s Depression Score


Zarrin Banikazemi 1 , Hamed Mirzaei 2 , Naghmeh Mokhber 3 , Majid Ghayour Mobarhan 1 , 4 , *

1 Biochemistry of Nutrition Research Center, School of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IR Iran

2 Department of Medical Biotechnology, School Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IR Iran

3 Department of Psychiatrics, School Medicine, Psychiatric Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IR Iran

4 Cardiovascular Research Center, School Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, IR Iran

How to Cite: Banikazemi Z, Mirzaei H, Mokhber N, Ghayour Mobarhan M. Selenium Intake is Related to Beck’s Depression Score, Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2016 ; 18(3):e59257. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.21993.


Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal: 18 (3); e59257
Published Online: March 28, 2016
Article Type: Letter
Received: July 22, 2014
Revised: January 30, 2015
Accepted: March 30, 2015





Selenium Depression Energy Intake

Copyright © 2016, Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.

Dear Editor,

Depression, common throughout the world, is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being (1, 2). Depression is typically thought of as strictly biochemical or as rooted in emotions. However, nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as the severity and duration of depression (3, 4). Selenium is an essential trace element that may alter levels of neurotransmitters in the brain (5). Several studies have suggested that a diet high in selenium significantly improves mood scores (6, 7). The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between selenium and depression, assessed by the Beck’s scores of subjects living in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran. This work began in 2007 - 2009, when 7,172 subjects (2,725 males and 4,447 females) were recruited from an urban population in and around Mashhad, using a stratified-cluster method that was derived from the Mashhad stroke heart atherosclerosis disorder (MASHAD study). None of the subjects had a past history of a cardiovascular event (e.g. unstable angina, Myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke), heart failure, or peripheral vascular disease, including transient ischemic attack, or a history of any previous cardiovascular interventions or surgery. Persons with any major comorbidity, such as cancer or autoimmune, infectious, and inflammatory diseases, were excluded. All subjects gave informed, written consent to contribute to the survey, which was approved by the Mashhad University of Medical Science Ethics Committee. In this study, symptoms of depression were assessed using the beck depression inventory (BDI). This questionnaire contained 21 items and measured the severity of several symptoms associated with depression. Participants answered each question using a 4-point scale, from 0 to 3. If the subject’s total score was under 14, the subject was regarded as non-depressed (normal), while those scoring 14 - 19 were considered to be mildly, 20 - 28 moderately, and > 29 severely depressed, respectively (8, 9). Dietary intake was assessed by means of a questionnaire that was designed based on a 24h dietary recall; dietary analysis was performed using Diet Plan 6 software (Forestfield Software Ltd., Horsham, West Sussex, UK). The means (and SD) for age were 49.3 ± 8.2 years for the male and 48.1 ± 8.0 years for the female subgroups. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the relative importance of the selected parameters in determining the presence of moderate and severe depression. Total energy-adjusted intake of selenium proved to be a significant predictor of moderate depression (Table 1 ; P < 0.001), with selenium being negatively associated with the relative risk of a high depression score. Interventional studies with selenium have revealed that selenium improved mood and diminished anxiety (10). In another study, low selenium status was associated with a significantly greater incidence of depression and other negative mood states, such as anxiety, confusion, and hostility (11). Our project confirmed that selenium intake is associated with the low risk of depression.

Table 1. Regression Logistic Between Severe and Moderate Depression Subjects With Selenium in Both Crude and Energy-Adjusted Nutrient Intake
VariableOdds Ratio (95% CI)a
Moderate DepressionSevere Depression
Crude intakeSelenium0.999 (0.996 - 1.002)0.998 (0.994 - 1.002)
Total energy-adjusted intakeSelenium0.998 (0.995 - 1.001)0.996 (0.992 - 1.000)b

aAdjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) obtained from multiple logistic regressions.

bP < 0.01.


  • 1.

    Egede LE, Ellis C. Diabetes and depression: global perspectives. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2010; 87(3) : 302 -12 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 2.

    Lovejoy MC, Graczyk PA, O'Hare E, Neuman G. Maternal depression and parenting behavior: a meta-analytic review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2000; 20(5) : 561 -92 [PubMed]

  • 3.

    Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008; 50(2) : 77 -82 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 4.

    Holford P. Depression: the nutrition connection. Primary Care Mental Health. 2003; 1(1) : 9 -16

  • 5.

    Whanger PD. Selenium and the brain: a review. Nutr. Neurosci. 2000; 4(2) : 81 -97

  • 6.

    Finley JW, Penland JG. Adequacy or deprivation of dietary selenium in healthy men: Clinical and psychological findings. J. Trace Elem. Exp. Med. 1998; 11(1) : 11 -27 [DOI]

  • 7.

    Benton D, Cook R. Selenium supplementation improves mood in a double-blind crossover trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1990; 102(4) : 549 -50 [PubMed]

  • 8.

    Arnau RC, Meagher MW, Norris MP, Bramson R. Psychometric evaluation of the Beck Depression Inventory-II with primary care medical patients. Health Psychol. 2001; 20(2) : 112 -9 [PubMed]

  • 9.

    Scogin F, Beutler L, Corbishley A, Hamblin D. Reliability and validity of the short form Beck Depression Inventory with older adults. J Clin Psychol. 1988; 44(6) : 853 -7 [PubMed]

  • 10.

    Duntas LH, Mantzou E, Koutras DA. Effects of a six month treatment with selenomethionine in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Eur J Endocrinol. 2003; 148(4) : 389 -93 [PubMed]

  • 11.

    Hawkes WC, Hornbostel L. Effects of dietary selenium on mood in healthy men living in a metabolic research unit. Biol Psychiatry. 1996; 39(2) : 121 -8 [DOI][PubMed]