The Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Serum Selenium Levels in Patients with Intractable Epilepsy


The aim of the present study was to evaluate serum selenium levels in children receiving olive oil-based ketogenic diet (KD) for intractable seizures for at least 1 year. Out of 320 patients who were initiated on KD, patients who continued receiving KD for at least 12 months were enrolled. Sixteen patients who had selenium deficiency at the time of starting KD were excluded. Finally, a total of 110 patients (mean age 7.3 ± 4.2 years) were included. Serum selenium levels were measured at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment initiation by using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Selenium deficiency was defined as a serum selenium level <48 μg/L at each visit. Repeated measure ANOVA with post hoc Bonferroni correction was used for data analysis. Mean duration of KD was 15.3 ± 4.3 months. Mean serum selenium levels were significantly lower at 6 and 12 months of KD treatment (66.2 ± 23.3 and 57.2 ± 16.2 μg/L, respectively) compared to pre-treatment levels (79.3 ± 25.7 μg/L) (p = 0.001). On the other hand, selenium levels did not show any significant difference at 3 months of KD treatment (70.0 ± 21.2 μg/L) compared to baseline levels (p = 0.076). A total of 54 patients (49.1%) were diagnosed with selenium deficiency, and oral selenium medication was initiated for these patients. No relevant clinical findings were detected, and echocardiographic findings were normal in all patients. The decline of the serum selenium concentrations after 6 and 12 months of ketogenic diet suggests that patients on this highly prescriptive dietary treatment need close monitoring of this trace element.

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Correspondence to Nur Arslan.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study has received ethical approval (Number of ethical approval: 2016/19-15) from the Ethics Committee of Dokuz Eylul University Faculty of Medicine. Written informed consent was obtained from parents of the children enrolled to the study.

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Arslan, N., Kose, E. & Guzel, O. The Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Serum Selenium Levels in Patients with Intractable Epilepsy. Biol Trace Elem Res 178, 1–6 (2017).

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  • Children
  • Epilepsy
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Selenium