Tuesday, November 23, 2021

History of mineral selenium

Selenium was discovered in 1817 by Jöns Jacob Berzelius and Johan Gottlieb Gahn. Berzelius was working in a chemical factory producing, among others, sulfuric acid and nitric acid. While preparing sulfuric acid Berzelius noticed a residue, which he first thought was tellurium. Realizing it was a new element, he decided to name it selenium.

The name selenium derives from the Greek word for “moon”, selene, in opposition to the Latin word for “earth”, tellus.

Increased interest in the biological role of selenium was observed in the 1950s, when it was discovered that this element exerts toxic effects. Increased accumulation of this element led to dystrophy of cardiac muscle or acute hepatic necrosis.

In 1943, its carcinogenic effect has been described. Some years later, Clayton and Baumann (1949) found out that selenium supplementation decreases the number of tumorous cases. The essential role of selenium was first published in 1957 by Schwartz and Foltz, when rat experiments proved that selenium added to food prevented the necrosis of the liver.

In the 1970s John T. Rotruck and colleagues discovered that the enzyme glutathione peroxidase operating body’s own antioxidant, glutathione system (GSH), has selenium as an indispensable part of its structure.
History of mineral selenium

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