Laboratory Testing for Trace Minerals

    An article in a recent issue of a prominent dairy magazine dealt with the problems of trace mineral deficiency diagnosis. One of the problems associated with testing for trace minerals is that some are found in the ‘transport pool’ in the blood and other are in a ‘storage pool” in the liver.   

    Unfortunately, serum concentration of most trace minerals can vary for many reasons, including; pregnancy, lactation, inflammation, weather, etc, etc   Bioavailability can also be affected by the presence of mineral antagonists.

    The author pointed out there are new testing techniques available that are sensitive and accurate. Samples of blood, serum, liver tissue, milk and urine can be tested, but databases of ‘normal’ parameters are lacking.

   With so many variables involved, I am skeptical of blood testing for mineral content.  It may be extremely accurate, but is, at best, only a ‘snapshot’ of what is happening at that particular instant in time.   Hair analysis would provide a broad panorama of mineral metabolism.

    As I read the article, it seemed that laboratory diagnosis of trace mineral imbalances was a daunting task and not all that accurate.  Applying the results of individual or small group testing to large groups negates any allowance for individual variation of mineral needs.  Force feeding a computer-generated mineral ration has a very good chance of adding to the problems rather than reducing them.

    There is, of course, a better way.  Take advantage of the animal’s innate nutritional wisdom, and provide a broad array of individual minerals for their individual evaluation.  It’s the natural way and it works. 


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