Selenium and Health: An Update on the Situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
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Selenium (Se) is an important trace element that should be present in the diet of all age groups to provide an adequate intake. Se is incorporated in 25 known selenoproteins, which mediate the biological effects of Se including, immune response regulation, maintenance of thyroid function, antioxidant defense, and anti-inflammatory actions. A balanced intake of Se is critical to achieve health benefits because depending on its status, Se has been found to play physiological roles or contribute to the pathophysiology of various diseases including, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disorders. Se status and intake are very important to be known for a specific population as the levels of Se are highly variable among different populations and regions. In the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, very little is known about the status of Se. Studies available show that Se status is widely variable with some countries being deficient, some over sufficient, and some sufficient. This variability was apparent even within the same country between regions. In this review, we summarized the key roles of Se in health and disease and discussed the available data on Se status and intake among countries of the MENA region.