New research shows that having a nutritional supplement can help lower the risk of developing diabetes, but only in men.
Researchers uncovered that men with high levels of selenium, an antioxidant found in liver and nuts, in their body are significantly less likely to develop this condition.
However, the supplement also sold in capsules from health food stores, does not seem to protect women.
Men with high levels of selenium in their bloodstream are half as likely as those with low levels to develop dysglycemia, whereby the body struggles to regulate blood sugar and this can lead to full-blown diabetes.
The study by University of Montpellier researchers in France studied 1,162 healthy men and women over a period of nine years.
All the volunteers were aged between 59 and 71 at the beginning of the study.
The researchers are not totally clear why they observed a protective effect of selenium in men but not women. However, this could be attributed to women being healthier at baseline, having better antioxidant status in general and the potential differences in how men and women process selenium.
The findings have been published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism.
Selenium is to be found in several multivitamins and researchers have in the past suggested that it could impact on regulating insulin levels in the body.
However, three years ago researchers from the State University of New York reported that taking selenium can in fact increase the risk of developing diabetes.
The study of 1,200 individuals showed that cancer patients on 200 micrograms of selenium a day were nearly 50 per cent more likely to develop the disease than sufferers given a placebo.
2.5 million plus Brits are diabetics, although that number is anticipated to mushroom in further decades, partly due to lifestyle and partly due to obesity .