Exercise overproduces oxygen reactive species (ROS) and eventually exceeds the body’s antioxidant capacity to neutralize them. The ROS produce damaging effects on the cell membrane and contribute to skeletal muscle damage. Selenium (Se), a natural mineral trace element, is an essential component of selenoproteins that plays an important role in antioxidant defense. The activity of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GPx), a highly-efficient antioxidant enzyme, is closely dependent on the presence of Se. These properties of Se may be potentially applicable to improve athletic performance and training recovery. We systematically searched for published studies to evaluate the effectiveness of Se supplementation on antioxidant defense system, muscle performance, hormone response, and athletic performance among physically active individuals. We used the Preferred Reporting Elements for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and searched in SCOPUS, Web of Science (WOS), and PubMed databases to identify published studies until March 2020. The systematic review incorporated original studies with randomized controlled crossover or parallel design in which intake of Se administered once a day was compared with the same placebo conditions. No exclusions were applied for the type of physical exercise performed, the sex, nor the age of the participants. Among 150 articles identified in the search, 6 met the criteria and were included in the systematic review. The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated using the McMaster Critical Review Form. Oral Se supplementation with 180 µg/day or 240 µg/day (selenomethionine) and 200 µg/day (Sodium Selenite), significantly decreased lipid hydroperoxide levels and increased GPx in plasma, erythrocyte, and muscle. No significant effects were observed on athletic performance, testosterone hormone levels, creatine kinase activity, and exercise training-induced adaptations on oxidative enzyme activities or on muscle fiber type myosin heavy chain expression. In addition, Se supplementation showed to have a dampening effect on the mitochondria changes in chronic and acute exercise. In summary, the use of Se supplementation has no benefits on aerobic or anaerobic athletic performance but it may prevent Se deficiencies among athletes with high-intensity and high-volume training. Optimal Se plasma levels may be important to minimize chronic exercise-induced oxidative effects and modulate the exercise effect on mitochondrial changes.
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