Minerals matter: Pet nutrition for healthy coats, skin and joints

  • Essential trace minerals in a biocomplexed organic form support the health of skin, joints and the overall musculoskeletal system of our companion animals.
Dr. Flávia Maria de Oliveira Borges Saad, professor at the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Minas Gerais, Brazil
For most dogs and cats, daily nutrition consists of a single “complete and balanced” meal (i.e., dry or moist commercial pet food). As there are no large variations in the ingredients, unlike a typical human diet, prolonged feeding of the same diet may result in serious physiological and metabolic problems if it is not nutritionally balanced.

Are your pets receiving the right amount of minerals in their diets?

Keeping the nutritional balance of minerals even can become rather complicated because inorganic sources of trace minerals, such as zinc, selenium, copper, iron and manganese, have variable absorption rates, and their bioavailability may be influenced by factors such as other dietary nutrients and the physiological condition of the animal, to mention a few. To counteract poor bioavailability, it is a common practice to add higher-than-recommended levels of trace minerals to commercial foods.
One also needs to keep in mind that trace minerals come from mined sources. Safety and traceability must be part of the quality assurance process to avoid the presence of heavy metals that, if present in a diet, can be deleterious to the long-term health of dogs and cats, especially as their lifespan has increased.
An alternative to the use of inorganic mined mineral sources, biocomplexed organic minerals provide a number of benefits, from improved bioavailability to the support of proper metabolic and physiological processes, which may not be carried out at full capacity when the trace mineral elements are not adequately supplied.

Organic zinc for healthy bones, skin and coat

For example, zinc is directly utilized for  the hair and skin, favoring processes of cellular integrity. Studies in dogs’ hair found that at least a two-fold concentration of zinc was achieved when biocomplexed organic zinc was in the diet compared to inorganic zinc. Zinc-deficient animals may suffer various abnormalities, including dysfunction of epithelial tissue, dermatological conditions, coat problems and gastrointestinal tract injuries (damage to microvilli). Zinc has a stimulatory effect on osteoblast formation of bone and mineralization as well as in the stimulation of cellular protein synthesis. Zinc is also known to stimulate gene expression of transcriptional factors related to differentiation within osteoblastic cells as well as inhibiting osteoclastic bone resorption. Recent studies have shown that biocomplexed organic zinc stimulates gene expression of metallothionein and zinc transporter proteins when compared to inorganic zinc. Metallothioneins and zinc transporters are proteins primarily involved in zinc metabolism and homeostasis, and their malfunction may be implicated in a number of dermatitis conditions.

Organic minerals for healthy bones, joints, liver and muscle

In addition, essential trace minerals like copper and manganese are directly deposited in bones, joints, liver and muscle, and they have great importance in the formation and homeostasis of the bone structure. Copper is a cofactor of the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which is necessary for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin during cartilage synthesis. Iron is a cofactor of the enzymes prolyl and lysyl hydroxylases, which are important in the synthesis of collagen in steps that precede the cross-linking performed by lysyl oxidase. Manganese is a cofactor of glycosyltransferases, enzymes important in the formation and elongation of the glycosaminoglycan chain, which forms the basal substance of the cartilage model.
As we learn more about mineral forms and how they impact animals physiologically, we can see why essential trace minerals in a biocomplexed organic form are more bioavailable and support the health of skin, joints and the musculoskeletal system as well as the overall well-being of our companion animals.