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Selenium deficiency is increasing: climate change affects our food
The trace element selenium is essential for human health. We ingest selenium through foods such as cereals. However, increasing selenium deficiency threatens in many regions of the world. This is the result of climate change, which also leads to a decrease in the selenium content in the soil and thus less selenium in food. This is pointed out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
The selenium concentration in soils decreases if the pH value and the availability of oxygen in the soil are high and the proportion of clay and organic carbon is low. An evaluation of 33,000 soil samples from data sets from 1994 to 2016 showed that the interactions between climate and soil have an influence on the selenium distribution. Precipitation and the ratio of precipitation and evaporation have the greatest influence on selenium concentration. On the one hand, selenium is washed out and lost during precipitation, at the same time the oxygen content is lower in wet soils and selenium remains more bound to soil particles. Dry, basic soils with little clay tend to contain little selenium.
Based on these findings, the scientists tried to model the selenium concentration of the soils worldwide for the periods 1980 to 1988 and 2080 to 2099 and came to the conclusion that by the end of the century, selenium loss of around nine percent in around two thirds of the agricultural land Compared to 1980 to 1999 can be expected.
One billion people already suffer from selenium deficiency. In order to avoid selenium deficiency, selenium-containing fertilizer could be used. Finland has been doing this since 1984. Like Germany, Denmark, Scotland and some Balkan countries, it has mostly selenium-poor soils. Selenium could also be used as an additive in animal feed.
The trace element selenium has an antioxidant effect and traps free radicals. It is an important building block for numerous proteins. Deficiency of selenium can lead to diseases of the heart muscle. However, too much selenium can also be harmful and lead to vomiting, damage to the liver or impair the taste.
According to the Federal Center for Nutrition in Bonn, 150 g of tuna, 125 g of pork liver or 100 g of sardines are sufficient for daily selenium consumption (30 to 70 µg). 50 g of pasta cover 20 percent of your daily needs and one chicken egg 12 percent. A varied diet also not only prevents selenium deficiency. Renate Kessen, respectively