Deficiency Signs And Symptoms

Selenium deprivation reduces the activity of selenium-dependent enzymes and has widespread effects. Characteristic signs of selenium deficiency have not been described in humans, but very low selenium status is a factor in the aetiologies of a juvenile cardiomyopathy (Keshan disease) and a chondrodystrophy (Kashin-Beck disease) that occur in selenium-deficient regions of China. Low selenium status has been associated with:

• loss of immunocompetence (Ongele et al 2002)

• increased risk of developing certain cancers (Clark et al 1998)

• reduced male fertility (Scott et al 1998, Xu et al 2003)

• poorer prognosis in HIV infection and AIDS (Baum et al 1997, Campa et al 1999)

• greater incidence of depression, anxiety, confusion and hostility (Rayman 2000)

• compromised thyroid hormone metabolism (particularly when iodine deficiency is also present) (Gartner et al 2002)

• asthma and atopy (Kadrabova et al 1996, Misso et al 1996, Omland et al 2002)

• rheumatoid arthritis (Zamamiri-Davis et al 2002)

• possibly, increased inflammatory processes (Zamamiri-Davis et al 2002)

• changes to drug metabolising enzymes including the cytochrome P450 system, with some activities increasing and others decreasing (Shils et al 2006).

Low selenium status may contribute to the aetiology of several diseases, while in others this state exacerbates disease progression, such as in HIV infection. © 2007 Elsevier Australia

People at risk of marginal selenium deficiency include those living in areas of low environmental selenium, such as some regions of New Zealand, people receiving long-term TPN, alcoholics, and those with liver cirrhosis, malabsorption syndromes, cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease and AIDS.

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