British Journal of Nutrition

Review article

Selenium and iodine intakes and status in New Zealand and Australia

Christine D. Thomsona1 c1

a1 Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Abstract

Most New Zealand soils contain relatively low concentrations of the anionic trace elements F, I and Se. Some areas of Australia also have a history of I deficiency. In view of current interest in establishing nutrient reference intakes for Se and I in New Zealand and Australia, it is timely to review current understanding of the intakes and status of these two elements. In spite of a recent increase in Se status, the status of New Zealanders remains low compared with populations of many other countries and may still be considered marginal, although the clinical consequences of the marginal Se status are unclear. There are no recent reports of blood Se levels in Australia, but earlier reports indicate that they were generally greater than those of New Zealanders. Similarly, the consequences of decreasing I status in Australia and New Zealand are unclear. Mild I deficiency in New Zealand has resulted in enlarged thyroid glands indicating an increased risk of goitre. Currently there is little evidence, however, of any associated clinical disease. Public health recommendations to reduce salt intake, together with the reduction in I content of dairy products, are likely to result in further decreases in the I status of New Zealand and Australian residents. Some action is needed to prevent this decline and it may be necessary to consider other means of fortification than iodized salt. The consequences of possible interactions between Se and I in human nutrition are also unclear and no practical recommendations can be made.

(Received November 12 2003)

(Revised January 17 2004)

(Accepted January 30 2004)

Correspondence:

c1 *Corresponding author: Professor C. D. Thomson, fax +64 3 479 7958, email christine.thomson@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

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