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Supplementing Trace Minerals Safely–
and Organically
The death of 21 polo horses in 2009 is a clear example of how inorganic and
excessive selenium supplementation can result in tragedy. Consider these points
when choosing your trace mineral supplements.
by Steve Elliott
icrominerals such as copper, or chelated, with amino acids protect
US as potential sources of pollution.
zinc, manganese, iron, selenium
Ensuring that your horse is fed organic
the mineral through the challenges of
and chromium are active
trace minerals will alleviate much of the
the digestive tract, resulting in increased
components in many cellular functions.
negative environmental impacts from
absorption and an increase in trace
Although they are required in relatively
horse excretions.
mineral status.
small amounts compared to the major
nutrient sources in the diet, their intricate
Can I assure that the mineral
source I am feeding is safe and
involvement in a large number of
Is the form of the mineral that
I am using readily absorbed by
metabolic processes, ranging from energy
my horse?
make certain that the selenium and other
generation to antioxidant support, makes
If your horse does not absorb nutrients
micromineral supplementation you are
their dietary contribution essential.
from the feed you provide, it does not
feeding your horse is a non-toxic, organic
matter how much mineral is initially
source that has been researched and
How environmentally friendly
ingested. The extent of the uptake of
proven safe. The USDA National Organic
are the mineral supplements I’m
trace minerals from the digestive tract
Program regulates organic standards and
feeding my horse?
depends on their ability to maintain their
oversees local certifying agencies.
because inorganic trace minerals are
solubility until they reach their site of
poorly absorbed by the horse, traditional
absorption and then on the efficiency contamination with heavy metals such
practice has involved over-supplementing as lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium
these in feed formulations. The excess
Organic minerals are better
is also a huge concern in micromineral
minerals not absorbed are then excreted supplementation. The minerals you feed
to find their way into soil and waterways,
utilized by the horse than
your horse should come from suppliers
contaminating both surface and ground
inorganic minerals and are much
who have implemented quality programs
water. high levels of minerals excreted in that test both raw materials and the final
feces can also have a detrimental effect on
better for the environment due to
product for contaminants.
soil microorganisms, which are essential
the reduced mineral excretion.
to maintaining soil structure and quality.
Proper trace mineral supplementation
of uptake into the blood. Due to their
Research shows that organic minerals
for your horses depends on the amount
similar atomic structures, different trace
demonstrate improved absorption, and
of trace mineral provided and the form
minerals have a natural interaction that
do not need to be supplemented in excess
in which it is fed. Providing minerals in
leads to decreased absorption. Also, the
of recommended daily allowances. The
organic form:
phytic acid that is present in forages and
horse will therefore not excrete as much
• offers improved digestibility and uptake
grains may bind metals like copper, zinc
unabsorbed mineral, which is kinder
• reduces interactions with other minerals
and iron into indigestible compounds
to the environment. Although horse
within the gut
that preclude absorption. Some sugar
manure may be a lesser environmental
• lessens the impact on the environment
compounds and natural polyphenols
issue compared to intensively farmed
Organic mineral supplementation will
are also known to complex with
animals, horse farms have recently
ensure your horse is achieving optimal
microminerals and inhibit absorption.
come to the notice of the EPA in the
mineral status and therefore performing
Organic minerals that have been bound,
at his full genetic potential.
Trace minerals are typically supplemented in equine diets due to the inadequate
Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky with
amounts in forages and grains. Traditionally, supplement and feed formulations
Bioscience Centres in the US, Ireland and Thailand,
have been from inorganic sources of trace minerals such as carbonates, chlorides,
and offices and distributors in 120 countries, Alltech
sulphates and phosphate salts. However, naturally occurring trace minerals, such
is a leader in the animal health and nutrition
as those found in forages, have been shown recently to be better absorbed and
industry. Steve Elliott is Alltech’s Global Director
thus more bioavailable to the horse. This has led to the development of minerals
for Bioplex® and Sel-Plex® mineral ranges. The
chelated or complexed with amino acids to form what is termed a proteinate. This
company is the title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World
mineral form makes them similar to the forms found in animal and plant material.
Equestrian Games 2010 to be held in Lexington.
Find more information at
| holistic horse™ • February/march 2010 • Vol.16, Issue 65
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