Objective: To measure the bioavailability of selenium from cooked and raw fish in humans by estimating and comparing apparent absorption and retention of selenium in biosynthetically labelled fish with labelled selenate and biosynthetically labelled selenium in brewers yeast.
Design: The intervention study was a parallel, randomised, reference substance controlled design carried out at two different centres in Europe.
Setting: The human study was carried out at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK and at TNO Nutrition and Food Research, Zeist, The Netherlands.
Subjects: In all, 35 male volunteers aged 18–50 y were recruited; 17 subjects were studied in Norwich (UK) and 18 in Zeist (Netherlands). All of the recruited subjects completed the study.
Interventions: Biosynthetically labelled trout fish (processed by two different methods), biosynthetically labelled brewers yeast and isotopically labelled selenate were used to estimate selenium apparent absorption and retention by quantitative analysis of stable isotope labels recovered in faeces and urine. Subjects consumed the labelled foods in four meals over two consecutive days and absorption was measured by the luminal disappearance method over 10 days. Urinary clearance of isotopic labels was measured over 7 days to enable retention to be calculated.
Results: Apparent absorption of selenium from fish was similar to selenate and there was no difference between the two processing methods used. However, retention of fish selenium was significantly higher than selenate (P<0.001). Apparent absorption and retention of yeast selenium was significantly different (P<0.001) from both fish selenium and selenate.
Conclusions: Fish selenium is a highly bioavailable source of dietary selenium. Cooking did not affect selenium apparent absorption or retention from fish. Selenium from yeast is less bioavailable.