Selenium: Relation to Decreased Toxicity of Methylmercury Added to Diets Containing Tuna

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Science  10 Mar 1972:
Vol. 175, Issue 4026, pp. 1122-1124
DOI: 10.1126/science.175.4026.1122


Japanese quail given 20 parts per million of mercury as methylmercury in diets containing 17 percent (by weight) tuna survived longer than quail given this concentration of methylmercury in a corn-soya diet. Tuna has a relatively high content of selenium and tends to accumulate additional selenium when mercury is present. A content of selenium in the diet comparable to that supplied by tuna decreased methylmercury toxicity in rats. Selenium in tuna, far from being a hazard in itself, may lessen the danger to man of mercury in tuna.

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