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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Database Values for Selenium Do Not Reflect Selenium Contents of Grain, Cereals and Other Foods Grown Or Purchased in the Upper Midwest of the United States

item Keck, Anna - UNIV OF ILLINOIS
item Finley, John

Submitted to: Nutrition Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 29, 2005
Publication Date: January 1, 2006
Citation: Keck, A.S., Finley, J.W. 2006. Database values for selenium do not reflect selenium contents of grain, cereals and other foods grown or purchased in the upper midwest of the United States. Nutrition Research. 26:17-22.

Interpretive Summary: Nutrient databases contain information on the nutritional content of common foods; such databases are used by many nutritional professionals to develop diets with specific nutritional profiles. Selenium is an essential trace element that is found in reference databases for many foods. However a survey of the Se content of multiple brands of similar foods has found unusually large variations that essentially render such values useless for formulation of diets. The greatest source of variation is probably geographic origin; for example a 100g serving of pasta made in the US would supply more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance, whereas the same serving of pasta made in Italy would supply less than 10%. The database values are probably adequate for estimating Se intake of large heterogeneous populations that consume food from many sources, but they should be viewed with caution when being used to estimate the Se content of a specific diet or brand of food.

Technical Abstract: In an effort to establish reliable selenium (Se) values for foods, we have previously reported the variability of Se concentrations in foods commonly available in the Upper Midwest. The present report extends this investigation to other foods as well as agricultural commodities, and has compared analyzed values to values predicted by the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Total variation in Se content was 72-fold (11-774 µg Se/100g) for wheat flakes, 57-fold (14-803 µg Se/100g) for wheat, and 11-fold (19-217 µg Se/100g) for beef. The variability between analyzed values and values found in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference were sufficiently large to make database values of little use for diet planning or assessment. These results emphasize that Se concentrations in foods vary, and professionals should be aware of this complication when designing diets with predicted amounts of Se.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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