Selenium Deficiency Diseases in Animals

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
Part of the Biochemistry of the Elements book series (BOTE, volume 2)


Biological function is thought to depend on the tissue concentration or the intake of a nutrient. The severity of deficiency signs and the effects of re supplementation depend on the degree of deficiency. This dependency has been formulated mathemetically by Bertrand (1912). According to Bertrand’s rule, a function for which a nutrient is essential and the nutrient is low or absent results in a theoretical deficiency, but the function increases with increasing exposure to the essential nutrient. This increase in function is followed by a plateau representing the maintenance of optimal function through homeostatic regulation, and a decline of the function toward zero as the regulatory mechanisms are overcome by increasing concentrations that become toxic. Bertrand’s work has been graphically interpreted by Mertz (1981) in a review article (Figure 2-1). This type of classification of function should help in more completely understanding the complete picture in regard to trace elements. In the past, certain trace elements have been labeled as either toxic, essential, or carcinogenic, etc. by various groups without regard to its other equally important functions. Recent work has demonstrated that several of the trace elements including selenium possess the characteristics outlined by Bertrand and Mertz. It is likely that each essential nutrient has its own specific curve which differs from that of other nutrients, i.e., the width of the plateau.


Muscular Dystrophy Sodium Selenite Glutathione Peroxidase Activity Selenium Deficiency Blood Selenium 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond J. Shamberger
    • 1
  1. 1.The Cleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

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