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A review of selenium deficiency in grazing ruminants. Part 1: New roles for selenium in ruminant metabolism

Authors: Wichtel JJ
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 47-52, Apr 1998
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Animal type: Livestock
Subject Terms: Trace elements, Selenium, Nutrition/metabolism, Metabolic disease, Diet/rations/food, Diagnostic procedures, Clinical pathology, Biochemistry/chemistry
Article class: Review Article
Abstract: Selenium deficiency has been an important source of loss to the pastoral industries of New Zealand. About 30% of farmed land in New Zealand is considered to be selenium-deficient and continued development of soils and pasture will tend to further decrease the concentration of selenium in pasture.
Biological functions: Formerly it was believed that all biological functions of selenium in animals could be attributed to the antioxidant activity of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. More recently, it has been shown that selenoproteins have roles in immune function and thyroid hormone metabolism.
Responses to supplementation: Following supplementation of ruminants grazing pastures deficient in selenium, milk production and growth responses are likely to occur in cattle, while in sheep improvements in growth and fertility are most likely. Reproductive dysfunction may not be as important as previously thought in cattle grazing pasture moderately deficient in selenium. The relationship between selenium intake and disease resistance deserves further study.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Management of selenium deficiency will continue to be important in grazing ruminants. Veterinarians should be aware that many selenoenzymes exist, some with functions quite distinct from the antioxidant role of glutathione peroxidase.
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