Selenium bioavailability: current knowledge and future research requirements

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Information on selenium bioavailability is required to derive dietary recommendations and to evaluate and improve the quality of food products. The need for robust data is particularly important in light of recent suggestions of potential health benefits associated with different intakes of selenium. The issue is not straightforward, however, because of large variations in the selenium content of foods (determined by a combination of geologic/environmental factors and selenium supplementation of fertilizers and animal feedstuffs) and the chemical forms of the element, which are absorbed and metabolized differently. Although most dietary selenium is absorbed efficiently, the retention of organic forms is higher than that of inorganic forms. There are also complications in the assessment and quantification of selenium species within foodstuffs. Often, extraction is only partial, and the process can alter the form or forms present in the food. Efforts to improve, standardize, and make more widely available techniques for species quantification are required. Similarly, reliable and sensitive functional biomarkers of selenium status are required, together with improvements in current biomarker methods. This requirement is particularly important for the assessment of bioavailability, because some functional biomarkers respond differently to the various selenium species. The effect of genotype adds a potential further dimension to the process of deriving bioavailability estimates and underlines the need for further research to facilitate the process of deriving dietary recommendations in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484S-1491S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Brassica
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Cooking
  • Diet
  • Food
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Research
  • Selenium
  • Selenomethionine
  • Sheep
  • Triticum
  • Vegetables
  • Yeasts

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