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Short-term effects of selenium supplementation of cows' feed on the content and distribution of selenium, copper and zinc in bovine milk, whey and blood plasma

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2008

Tien Hoac
Biomedical Nutrition, Pure and Applied Biochemistry, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Jan Stagsted
Department of Food Science, Research Centre Foulum, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, Tjele, Denmark
Thomas Lundh
Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
Jacob H Nielsen
Department of Food Science, Research Centre Foulum, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, Tjele, Denmark
Björn Åkesson*
Biomedical Nutrition, Pure and Applied Biochemistry, Lund University, Lund, Sweden Department of Clinical Nutrition, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
*For correspondence; e-mail:


The effect of selenium supplementation of feed on the Se content in bovine milk, whey and plasma, and on the distribution of Se, Zn and Cu in whey and plasma was investigated. In a cross-over study two groups of cows were given a basal feed with 0·16 ppm selenite (approx. 3 mg Se/d) with or without 25 mg yeast Se/d for 2 weeks. In the supplemented group the Se content increased 10-fold in milk, 10-fold in whey and 2-fold in plasma, and after the cessation of the supplementation, selenium in milk decreased with a calculated half-life of 3·5 d. In another experiment, two groups of cows were given either 100 mg yeast Se/d for 1 week or only the basal feed. The increase in Se content in both whole and defatted milk was 40–50-fold, and in whey it was approx. 20-fold. Size-exclusion chromatography of whey using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for detection showed that supplementation increased the proportion of Se in the β-lactoglobulin-α-lactalbumin fraction. Distribution of Cu and Zn was essentially unaffected. In plasma, supplementation increased the Se content in all major Se fractions like selenoprotein P, albumin and low-molecular-weight compounds, but the distribution profiles of Zn and Cu underwent no major changes. The study showed for the first time the rapid kinetics of the Se increase and decrease in milk after the initiation and cessation of supplementation, respectively, and the preferential appearance of Se in the β-lactoglobulin-α-lactalbumin fraction of whey. Milk highly enriched in selenium will be a useful tool for different research purposes.

Research Article
Copyright © Proprietors of Journal of Dairy Research 2008

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