Selenium in soil–plant–food systems

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Humans and animals require a multitude of nutrients in order to have a properly functioning body for purposes of growth, development and metabolism. Plant-based foods have represented one of the most important nutrient sources in human diet since the beginning of mankind. But nowadays the amount of arable land is being reduced and much of the natural resources already in use show signs of degradation. Also, staple crops (i.e. plants that constitute the main food in the diets of people in developing countries, e.g. wheat, rice, maize, and cassava) regrettably contain low amounts of micronutrients, making them insufficient to meet the minimum daily requirements. Shortages in mineral micronutrients, including iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), and iodine (I), are affecting more than half of the world’s population. In this case, it is fundamental to improve strategies that let us make plant foods more efficient and with higher micronutrient amounts and bioavailability concerning their edible textures. In this regard, in this review paper, we tried to summarize selenium availability and its application in the soil, plant and food systems to understand the place of selenium in plant-based foods.

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