Today’s pets are a part of the family and have longer lifespans, thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, animal welfare and nutrition.
Important elements, literally, of premium nutrition are trace minerals.
What are trace minerals?
Trace minerals refer to elements such as zinc, selenium, copper, iron and manganese. These minerals have a range of health benefits, including supporting your cat or dog’s immune system.
In pet diets, there are two important considerations when it comes to trace minerals:
- Optimum form (inorganic versus organic)
- Amount of trace mineral provided
Both of these factors will significantly influence bioavailability, or the impact trace mineral supplementation has on your pet.
What happens if my pet’s diet includes inorganic minerals?
Inorganic sources of trace minerals have variable absorption rates due to their structure. Absorption rate is a measurement of how the minerals are “taken up” by the digestive system and recruited into areas of need, such as immune response and tissue repair. If inorganic trace minerals are included in pet diets, the amount that your pet consumes would not reflect the amount of trace minerals they actually absorb.
After you feed your pet, food is broken down by the digestive system to make its nutrients available for absorption and use. The structure of an inorganic mineral causes it to interact with other components during this process. This results in the inorganic mineral forming an indigestible complex that ultimately ends up on the lawn or in the litterbox.
We describe this as poor bioavailability because, even though you are providing your pet with trace minerals in their food, those minerals are not able to be properly put to use and benefit your pet. To counteract this problem, it is common to add higher-than-recommended levels of trace minerals, yet this is disguising one issue with another.
Why organic trace minerals are superior
An organic trace mineral is made differently. Its ring structure gives it protection to successfully pass through the digestive system. From there, it can go through the gut wall and into the bloodstream to do its work. This is where inorganic trace minerals get left behind because they stick to the gut instead of passing through it. Think of the gut as a gate; it either allows nutrients through or it doesn’t.
Inorganic forms of trace minerals are still used in pet food, but we are beginning to see more pet food manufacturers moving to better mineral nutrition with Bioplex® organic trace minerals. The improved bioavailability of organic trace minerals can help our furry family members live long, healthy lives.