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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Does drinking milk or taking selenium lead to diabetes?

Does drinking milk contribute to developing diabetes? This is a shocker to me as I drink three glasses a day to get calcium. I have also read that people who have taken selenium for a number of years are prone to an increase in their blood sugar, possibly leading to diabetes. Is this true?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Brazil Nuts, a good source of Selenium

Milk itself is not linked to diabetes. We do know that Mediterranean style diet doesn't really include drinking milk. Those in Mediterranean countries consume the majority of their dairy as processed dairy, such as cheese and yogurt.

There has been some recent research that links an excess of selenium in people's bloodstream with diabetes. This could be from supplements, although selenium is found in high levels in soil in certain parts of the United States. Here's a link to the map:

The recommended dietary allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms per day for adults. Most Americans get all they need through their diet and don't need supplements. (Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium.) The FDA recommends that one's intake not exceed 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. The have recalled supplements on multiple occasions, some with as much as 40,000 mcg per pill.

The mechanism for the link between diabetes and high selenium intake has not been outlined.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet