By: Dr. Kate Jackson and Dr. Fred Madsen
How much confidence do you have that a “well-balanced” formula will meet the nutritional needs of the animal? Does this confidence level change during periods of stress, clinical and subclinical disease, growth spurts, or toxicity?
Animal nutritionists and formulators have a variety of ingredients, nutrients and additives to help meet the nutritional needs of modern livestock and companion animals. Great strides have been made in recent years in increasing the accuracy of meeting the nutrient needs of animals and reducing excretion of harmful materials into the environment. However, limited progress has been made in understanding and meeting the needs of animals during stress and disease.
Animals are systems which regulate in various ways the amount and form of the nutrients and metabolites they absorb and utilize. Animal nutritionists have discovered that the more accurately they supply the needs of the animal in terms of diet and environment the more efficiently the animals perform and the friendlier they are with the environment. Widespread use of ideal protein, protein modeling and various methods for estimating energy needs has resulted in improved animal performance, less medication and reduced over-formulation.
However, with all this improvement, limited progress has been made in meeting or providing the needs of the animal during periods of varying growth, stress, tissue repair, chronic subclinical disease and toxicities. One possible answer to the problem is to develop diets or feeding methods that cooperate with the animal’s variable needs. To begin the process nutritionists need to identify components of the diet which allow them to improve the opportunity to cooperate with the dynamic needs of the animal.
For successful and efficient absorption, a mineral should go into solution (dissolve), but it should not totally dissociate (completely separate into its component parts). Oxide forms of trace minerals dissolve very slowly and therefore the trace elements have low probabilities of being absorbed. In contrast, sulfate forms of trace minerals dissociate very quickly, potentially increasing the probabilities of being absorbed. However, with these inorganic minerals the dissociated ion (zinc, copper or iron) is generally left “naked” & unprotected early in the digestive process. The “naked” ion can be grabbed by compounds in the diet, including digesta components that won’t turn it loose, and the resulting complex may become insoluble and inaccessible to the animal. Also the mineral should be in a form that will allow the metal to “dissociate” and be absorbed when needed. Mother Nature developed a way to make such minerals and we have mimicked this process.
The ProMins™ manufacturing process mimics Mother Nature. ProMin organic minerals are made the same way that the animal does when it eats and digests its feed. The animal gets some organically complexed minerals in the food they eat but most are broken down by enzymes and pH during digestion. The animal then rebuilds the minerals into organic forms so that the minerals will remain soluble and be able to easily move to the sites of absorption as digestion proceeds. The animal’s system is designed to appropriately handle minerals in this manner. Adding minerals to the diet of deficient animals in a form that are already prepared for transportation to the site of absorption improves the probability that the animal can get the necessary minerals when they need them.
Trace minerals need to remain soluble and not react with something that can make it insoluble. If it is insoluble, it precipitates (becomes a solid particle) or moves with the solid phase instead of the liquid phase, reducing its probability of being absorbed. If it stays in one place, it will reduce the probability of being absorbed.
Remember trace minerals are potentially toxic to all life, but absolutely necessary as well. Too much can kill and too little can also kill. The absorption architecture in animals must work very, very well and respond rapidly to changing supply and demand. The trace mineral absorption/repulsion activity in the body is typically going in waves in order to deliver just what the animal needs, when it needs it. The animal will turn on gene expression for absorption and change the associated absorption architecture when it needs trace minerals (trace minerals and major minerals). When the animal has enough minerals to meet the demand, it turns off (or at least turns down) those absorption genes. When too much mineral hits the site of absorption, passive absorption becomes more important (such as when a boat gets swamped with a huge wave) with more total metal being absorbed than the animal really needs. This may or may not be a problem for the animal depending on how full their storage organ sites are and how well they are able to dispose of the excess.
Trace mineral absorption architecture and transportation depends more on active absorption than passive diffusion when animals are fed normal levels of copper. Some species are more sensitive to toxicities than others, just as some species require more of some trace elements than others. Sheep are very sensitive to excess copper. In the case of copper poisoning of sheep, too much copper is absorbed for the liver to store and excrete safely, resulting in copper spilling in large quantities from the liver, damaging the kidneys and thus the sheep. For copper, ruminants generally have a higher requirement and are more sensitive to excess than non-ruminants. What makes ProMins unique is that it can be over-fed to a copper sensitive species like sheep without immediately harming or possibly killing them. The dietary copper requirement for sheep is approximately 8 ppm and the toxicity level for sheep is considered to be approximately 25 ppm copper.
This slide shows the liver copper in the Texas A&M research study (Eckert et al 1999, JAS 77:244-249) where ewes were being fed 10, 20 or 30 ppm copper from either copper sulfate or ProMins for 74 days. For a point of reference, Dr. Robert Puls (Mineral Levels in Animals Health, 1994) considers adequate sheep liver copper levels to be 85-338 ppm on a dry matter basis (copper toxicity starts about 850 ppm in dry sheep liver).
The results are pretty amazing. The ewes on ProMins did not accumulate copper in their liver like the ewes on copper sulfate did when excessive copper was fed. Eckert et. al., commented: “These data suggest that copper proteinate maintains higher liver copper when fed at normal levels and when fed in excess amounts will result in less liver copper accumulation than copper from copper sulfate.” This demonstrates that the up & down regulation of absorption works very well with ProMins.
ProMins didn’t “swamp the boat”.