In a national monitoring programme, sampling of cereals, basic foodstuffs, feeds, fertilizers, soils, and human tissues has been carried out annually since 1985 by four governmental research organizations. Sampling of foods has been done four times per year and human blood has been obtained annually from the same (n = 60) adults. The accuracy of analyses has been verified by annual interlaboratory quality control. During this programme the selenium concentration of spring cereals has increased on average 15-fold compared with the level before the Se fertilization. The mean increase in the Se concentration in beef, pork and milk was 6-, 2- and 3-fold. In terms of Se, organically grown foods of plant origin are generally comparable to products produced before the Se supplementation of fertilizers. Milk from organically fed cows is 50% lower in Se than the usual milk. The average dietary human intake increased from 0.04 mg Se/day/10 MJ in 1985 to a present plateau of 0.08 mg Se/day/10 MJ, which is well above the current nutrition recommendations. Foods of animal origin contribute over 70% of the total daily Se intake. The mean human plasma Se concentration increased from 0.89 μmol/L to a general level of 1.40 μmol/L that can be considered to be an optimal status. The absence of Se deficiency diseases and a reference population have made conclusions on the impact on human health difficult. However, the rates of cardiovascular diseases and cancers have remained similar during the pre- and post-supplementation indicating medical and life-style factors to be much stronger determinants than Se. The nationwide supplementation of fertilizers with sodium selenate is shown to be effective and safe in increasing the Se intake of the whole population. Also, the health of animals has improved.
Fields of Science
- 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
- 1172 Environmental sciences
- 4111 Agronomy
- 416 Food Science