The study of the importance of trace elements in animal nutrition has been ongoing for nearly a century. Early on it was discovered that commercially available diets were often deficient in several of the nutritionally important trace elements. Initially it was found that the addition of trace elements in the form of minerals (generally from mining or other industries) was sufficient to meet the animal’s biological needs. A lot of research was conducted on the solubility and nutritional availability of these “mineral” sources and it was found that some mineral sources were more nutritionally available than others.
This research was used to formulate diets with the most appropriate sources of added minerals. More available forms of trace elements were needed for improved reproduction and overall health. Today it is generally accepted that animal performance can be improved by judicious use of organic forms of essential elements (especially transition metals and selenium). However, there is much debate concerning which organic forms are best utilized by the animal.
By Lindsay Beaton
As work continues on creating a new nutrition label that focuses on simplifying information for consumers, challenges remain.
By Tang Yu