Selenium in Human Nutrition

Like other trace minerals, the body requires selenium in very low doses, probably less than 100 mcg/day. It is found in foods such as wheat germ, Brazil nuts, oats, whole wheat, brown rice, orange juice, and garlic in direct proportion to the level of selenium in the soil in which the plants were grown.

Overt selenium deficiency has been primarily observed in some parts of China, where selenium soil levels are extremely low.

Symptoms include heart disorders, joint damage, muscle weakness, and an increased incidence of liver cancer. The incidence of cancer also appears to be abnormally high in areas of low soil selenium.

Needs for selenium appear to increase during pregnancy, and infants given formula alone can become selenium deficient [Fan et al., 1990; Karunanithy et al., 1989].

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