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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Developing Sustainable Cropping Systems to Improve Water Productivity and Protect Water and Soil Quality in Irrigated Agriculture

Location: Water Management Research

Title: Changing selenium nutritional status of Chinese residents

Authors
item Li, Sumei -
item Banuelos, Gary
item Wu, L -
item Shi, W -

Submitted to: Nutrients
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 3, 2014
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
Citation: Li, S., Banuelos, G.S., Wu, L., Shi, W. 2014. Changing selenium nutritional status of Chinese residents. Nutrients. 6:1103-1114.

Interpretive Summary: Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element in human nutrition. China is, for example, one of the 40 countries designated as a Se-deficient country according to the World Health Organization. Selenium enters the food chain primarily through plants in China. Grain, as a staple food, plays a crucial role in the food supply in China--over 70% of the Se intake of rural Chinese residents originates from their diet. The measurement of Se concentration in hair is a commonly-used index to evaluate long-term Se level of the human body. In this study, the hair Se content and thus the Se nutritional status of Chinese residents was determined in 10 different provinces in China and compared with hair Se data from the past. The results showed variability among reported individuals, gender, and location of province. Overall, the hair Se content of today's residents decreased by 24-46% compared with past residents located in the same geographic regions. In conclusion, the decrease of hair Se content may be primarily related to the decrease of grain consumption and the lower Se content in the staple food rice.

Technical Abstract: China has been designated as one of 40 countries deficient in selenium (Se) according to the World Health Organization. Selenium concentrations in hair are commonly used to evaluate the Se level of the human body. Moreover, hair Se concentrations are significantly correlated with Se concentrations in muscle, whole blood, red blood cells, and blood plasma. In this study, hair samples were collected from residents living in 10 different provinces extending from northeast to southeast China, and compared to hair Se concentrations reported 20 years ago in these same geographic regions. The results indicated that at least 80% of all Chinese residents have normal hair Se content. Between the sexes, the average hair Se content of males is greater than that of females, irrespective of province. When comparing geographical regions, the average hair Se content of southern residents was greater than that of Northern residents, irrespective of gender. Historically, the overall hair Se content of today's Chinese inhabitants decreased 24-46% when compared to data collected from the same geographic region twenty years ago. The decrease of hair Se content may be correlated to the overall decrease of grain consumption and the lower Se content in rice.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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