Organic and inorganic selenium: I. oral bioavailability in ewes

J. A. Hall, R. J. van Saun, G. Bobe, W. C. Stewart, W. R. Vorachek, W. D. Mosher, T. Nichols, N. E. Forsberg, G. J. Pirelli

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57 Scopus citations


Although the essentiality of dietary Se for sheep has been known for decades, the chemical source and Se dosage for optimal health remain unclear. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates Se supplementation, regardless of the source of Se, at 0.3 mg of Se/kg of diet (as fed), which is equivalent to 0.7 mg of Se/d or 4.9 mg of Se/wk per sheep. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of Se source (inorganic vs. organic) and supplementation rate (FDA vs. supranutritional rates of 14.7 and 24.5 mg of Se/wk) on whole-blood (WB) and serum-Se concentrations. Mature ewes (n = 240) were randomly assigned to 8 treatment groups (n = 30 each) based on Se supplementation rate (4.9, 14.7, and 24.5 mg of Se{bullet operator}wk-1{bullet operator}sheep-1) and source [Naselenite, Na-selenate (4.9 mg/wk only), and organic Se-yeast] with a no-Se control group (0 mg of Se/ wk). Treatment groups were balanced for healthy and footrot-affected ewes. For 1 yr, ewes were individually dosed once weekly with 0, 4.9, 14.7, or 24.5 mg of Se, quantities equivalent to their summed daily supplementation rates. Serum- and WB-Se concentrations were measured every 3 mo in all ewes; additionally, WB-Se concentrations were measured once monthly in one-half of the ewes receiving 0 or 4.9 mg of Se/wk. Ewes receiving no Se showed a 78.8 and 58.8% decrease (P < 0.001) in WB- (250 to 53 ng/mL) and serum- (97 to 40 ng/mL) Se concentrations, respectively, over the duration of the study. Whole-blood Se decreased primarily during pregnancy (-57%; 258 to 111 ng/mL) and again during peak lactation (-44%; 109 to 61 ng/mL; P < 0.001). At 4.9 mg of Se/wk, Se-yeast (364 ng/mL, final Se concentration) was more effective than Na-selenite (269 ng/mL) at increasing WB-Se concentrations (P < 0.001). Supranutritional Se-yeast dosages increased WB-Se concentrations in a dose-dependent manner (563 ng/mL, 14.7 mg of Se/wk; 748 ng/mL, 24.5 mg of Se/wk; P < 0.001), whereas WB-Se concentrations were not different for the Na-selenite groups (350 ng/ mL, 14.7 mg of Se/wk; 363 ng/mL, 24.5 mg of Se/wk) or the 4.9 mg of Se/wk Se-yeast group (364 ng/mL). In summary, the dose range whereby Se supplementation increased blood Se concentrations was more limited for inorganic Na-selenite than for organic Se-yeast. The smallest rate (FDA-recommended quantity) of organic Se supplementation was equally effective as supranutritional rates of Na-selenite supplementation in increasing WB-Se concentrations, demonstrating the greater oral bioavailability of organic Se.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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