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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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The health supplements information service comments on selenium and evolution
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 38, Issue 4.
A paper published in Genome Biology suggests that evolutionary processes may reduce the reliance on the essential trace element selenium.
Commenting on this latest paper, Pamela Mason, health supplements information service spokesperson notes, “Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element that occurs in proteins in the form of selenocysteine and is transported in the blood. As a result, it is a vital antioxidant nutrient, protecting the body cells from damage, helping to maintain the body's defence system and has a role in cancer prevention. It also works in conjunction with vitamin E and is a component of many enzymes”.
“This latest article suggests that we have lost some of our need for selenium during evolution. Whether this suggestion has relevance for selenium intake will require a great deal more research. The questions raised in this paper are preliminary. Moreover, this paper speaks to the US context where dietary selenium intake is significantly higher than in the UK”.
“Indeed, in the UK, dietary intakes of selenium are a cause for concern as they have decreased considerably during recent decades, falling by 50 per cent over the past 30 years. Average intake of selenium is 35g daily in British adults, while the reference nutrient intake is 60g for women and 75g for men. This reduction in intake has occurred because much British bread is now made from European wheat which is low in selenium compared with North American wheat which was used years ago. While the health impact of this reduction is not fully known, The Department of Health is sufficiently concerned to be monitoring it”.
In summary Pamela notes: “Until the full health impact of the UK's low selenium intake is known, it would be unwise to suggest that attention to selenium intake is unnecessary. We do know that selenium is essential for human health and given that dietary intake is low in the UK, a supplement containing this essential nutrient can be consumed in accordance with recommended dietary allowances”.