Selenium and aflatoxin levels in raw Brazil nuts from the Amazon basin

J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Dec 26;55(26):11087-92. doi: 10.1021/jf072434k. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


Whereas selenium (Se) is an important antioxidant in human metabolism to prevent cancer, aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic. Brazil nuts from Eastern and Western Amazon regions were evaluated to find any relationship between Se and aflatoxins levels. A total of 80 (in-shell and shelled) nuts samples were collected directly from different forest sites and analyzed for Se by atomic emission spectrometry and aflatoxins by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. The limit of quantitation (LOQ) for Se was 2.0 mg/kg, and LOQ for total aflatoxins was 0.390 microg/kg. Nut Se levels from the Eastern region were higher than the Western, in addition to the aflatoxins. The moisture content (mc) and water activity (aw) of the raw nuts from the two regions did not present a significant difference, for either in-shell or shelled. The mc was 24.5% (minimum of 20.1% and maximum of 30.4%) and 22.1% (minimum of 14.6% and maximum of 28.9%) and a w of 0.85 for both regions. Further studies need to be carried out to discover the role of Se on fungi growth stress and aflatoxin production mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / analysis*
  • Bertholletia / chemistry*
  • Brazil
  • Rivers
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Selenium / analysis*
  • Selenium / toxicity
  • Soil / analysis


  • Aflatoxins
  • Soil
  • Selenium