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Proc Nutr Soc. 2004 Nov;63(4):513-7.

Are there functional consequences of a reduction in selenium intake in UK subjects?

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Department of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GA, UK.


Dietary Se levels in the UK have fallen over the last 20 years and recent surveys indicate that average Se intakes are 30-40 microg/d, which is well below the current UK reference nutrient intake for adult men (75 microg/d) or women (60 microg/d). Functional consequences of this decline have not been recognised, although epidemiological data suggest it may contribute to increased risk of infections and incidence of some cancers. Previous data have indicated that biochemical changes in Se-dependent proteins occur in otherwise healthy UK subjects given small Se supplements. The current studies have focused on the effect of small Se supplements on the immune response since there is evidence of specific interactions between Se intake and viral replication, and since the potential anti-cancer effects of Se may be mediated by non-antioxidant effects of Se such as changes in immune function. Data indicate that subjects given small Se supplements (50 or 100 microg Se/d) have changes in the activity of Se-dependent enzymes and evidence of improved immune function and clearance of an administered live attenuated virus in the form of poliovirus vaccine. Responses of individual subjects to Se supplements are variable, and current work is evaluating potential explanations for this variability, including genetic variability and pre-existing Se status.

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