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Selenium in global food systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

Gerald F. Combs Jr*
Affiliation:
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
*Corresponding author: Dr Gerald F. Combs Jr, fax +1 607 255 1033, email gfc2@cornell.edu
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Abstract

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Food systems need to produce enough of the essential trace element Se to provide regular adult intakes of at least 40 μg/d to support the maximal expression of the Se enzymes, and perhaps as much as 300 μg/d to reduce risks of cancer. Deprivation of Se is associated with impairments in antioxidant protection, redox regulation and energy production as consequences of suboptimal expression of one or more of the Se-containing enzymes. These impairments may not cause deficiency signs in the classical sense, but instead contribute to health problems caused by physiological and environmental oxidative stresses and infections. At the same time, supranutritional intakes of Se, i.e. intakes greater than those required for selenocysteine enzyme expression, appear to reduce cancer risk. The lower, nutritional, level is greater than the typical intakes of many people in several parts of the world, and few populations have intakes approaching the latter, supranutritional, level. Accordingly, low Se status is likely to contribute to morbidity and mortality due to infectious as well as chronic diseases, and increasing Se intakes in all parts of the world can be expected to reduce cancer rates.

Type
Review article
Copyright
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2001

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