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Apr 13, 2013

Poor Soil Creates Endemic Selenium Deficiencies in Malawi

A report published in Scientific Reports on 13 March 2013 concludes that the low availability of the micronutrient selenium in the soil is causing malnutrition throughout Malawi.  Selenium is an essential human micronutrient that is used by the body to create selenoproteins, which are key to a healthy immune system.

This report analyzed the occurrence of selenium deficiency in Malawi.  It was found particularly among women and it was linked to bad soil factors such as land degradation and poor farming practices.  All these factors can be mitigated with education and the enrichment of soil with fertilizer containing additional selenium.  One way to do this organically is to use mushrooms.  These can be grown using dead organic material.

The study was headed by academics at the University of Nottingham, and was primarily funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), theDepartment for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) scheme.

Photo: children in village in Malawi. Credit: Globe Hoppers

For more see:



Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi," Rachel Hurst, Edwin W. P. Siyame, Scott D. Young, Allan D. C. Chilimba, Edward J. M. Joy, Colin R. Black, E. Louise Ander, Michael J. Watts, Benson Chilima, Jellita Gondwe, Dalitso Kang'ombe, Alexander J. Stein, Susan J. Fairweather-Tait, Rosalind S. Gibson, Alexander A. Kalimbira and Martin R. Broadley. "Soil-Type Influence Human Selenium Status and Underlies Widespread Selenium Deficiency Risks in Malawi," Scientific Reports, No. 1425, 12 March 2013.


About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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