Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi

Hurst, Rachel, Siyame, Edwin W. P., Young, Scott D., Chilimba, Allan D. C., Joy, Edward J. M., Black, Colin R., Ander, E. Louise, Watts, Michael J., Chilima, Benson, Gondwe, Jellita, Kang'ombe, Dalitso, Stein, Alexander J., Fairweather-Tait, Susan J. ORCID:, Gibson, Rosalind S., Kalimbira, Alexander A. and Broadley, Martin R. (2013) Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi. Scientific Reports, 3. ISSN 2045-2322

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Selenium (Se) is an essential human micronutrient with critical roles in immune functioning and antioxidant defence. Estimates of dietary Se intakes and status are scarce for Africa although crop surveys indicate deficiency is probably widespread in Malawi. Here we show that Se deficiency is likely endemic in Malawi based on the Se status of adults consuming food from contrasting soil types. These data are consistent with food balance sheets and composition tables revealing that >80% of the Malawi population is at risk of dietary Se inadequacy. Risk of dietary Se inadequacy is >60% in seven other countries in Southern Africa, and 22% across Africa as a whole. Given that most Malawi soils cannot supply sufficient Se to crops for adequate human nutrition, the cost and benefits of interventions to alleviate Se deficiency should be determined; for example, Se-enriched nitrogen fertilisers could be adopted as in Finland.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Author contributions to this study were funded primarily by a Partnership and Project Development Award (NE/I003347/1) from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) scheme. Additional funding was provided by the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham.
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescent,adult,agricultural crops,female,fertilizers,food,humans,hydrogen-ion concentration,malawi,micronutrients,middle aged,nutritional status,selenium,soil,young adult
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Nutrition and Preventive Medicine
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Centres > Lifespan Health
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Musculoskeletal Medicine
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2014 14:16
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2024 02:11
DOI: 10.1038/srep01425

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