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The Importance of Zinc for Animals

by Tom Cameron, DVM

(The Best Years in Life) Recently, the European Union lowered the zinc requirement in animal feeds (livestock and smaller animals), not for nutritional reasons, but because of the dangerous accumulation of zinc in the soil and water. Zinc is a heavy metal, and too much can have devastating effects on plant life, as well as human and animal health.

How is this happening? Why is zinc passing through these animals and contaminating the environment? Unfortunately, this is an example of how isolate nutrients can create toxic effects, both in the animal and the environment.

Zinc is never found by itself in nature, it is always combined with other minerals. In its elemental form (inorganic - as in rocks), zinc is not an element that humans or animals can absorb efficiently. Isolated zinc is not absorbed well by mammals. To remedy this problem, current science takes inorganic zinc and ‘chelates’ it with organic and amino acids, trying to improve its absorption.

There are 7 types of zinc supplements:

Chelated zinc (Zinc proteinate)
Zinc orotate
Zinc picolinate
Zinc acetate
Zinc gluconate
Zinc oxid
Zinc sulfate

In each form, inorganic zinc is chemically or electrically combined with other ingredients so that more zinc is absorbed. The industry readily admits that these zinc supplements are not well absorbed, yet they continue to be fed as healthy sources of zinc. This practice has resulted in animals shedding excess amounts of zinc in their stool and urine, causing toxic levels to build up in water and soil. Excess zinc in the soil binds iron, blocking the plant’s ability to make chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is critical for photosynthesis and many other metabolic processes in plants. Zinc from foods does not cause these problems.

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EU officials are measuring the increase in zinc levels in water and soil. They feel that, unless something is done, zinc levels in soil will be toxic within a generation or two. Some estimate that it could take 80 years for the soil to recover.

In nature, inorganic zinc is taken up by plants. Those plants are then eaten by animals and humans. Foods are the most bioavailable and bioactive sources of zinc. Food sources of zinc include: oysters, red meats, poultry, cheese, and shellfish. Plant sources (less easily absorbed) include beans, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, cooked greens, mushrooms, green beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. You will notice that Nature’s Logic uses many of these foods in their pet products, providing multiple sources of zinc. Food trial results show Nature’s Logic foods exceed minimum requirements for zinc, using only food sources.

Remember the concept that food is made up of hundreds (if not thousands) of nutrients that are in complimentary combinations. These combinations allow food to be taken in, with nutrients digested and absorbed. Other food ingredients provide for safe excretion of waste products, preventing the toxic build-up of any one nutrient. This complexity ensures safe and efficient nutrition without toxicity to the individual or environment.

Modern science continues to look at isolated ingredients, taken out of the complex food structure, as providing the same health benefits as foods. This current zinc situation is a serious exposure of how wrong they are. Nature’s Logic continues to be a source of quality nutrition, in food forms animals have always relied on to stay healthy.

This article/blog originally appeared at NaturesLogic.com under the title "Zinc".

See also:

The Best Years in Life Pets and Animals Page

The Importance of Moisture in Our Pet’s Diet!

Is Grain-Free Really Better for Dogs and Cats?

Choosing the Best Pet Food

Berkey Water

About the author:

Dr. Tom Cameron received his DVM from Michigan State University in 1982. He began practice in Waunakee, WI, concentrating on both dairy and small animal medicine. In 1994, he assumed ownership of the DeForest Veterinary Clinic, in DeForest, WI, an exclusively small animal practice, offering a combination of traditional and holistic treatment modalities.

Dr. Cameron’s primary interests include clinical nutrition, nutritional therapy, homeopathy, Bach Flower therapy and soft tissue surgery. Dr. Cameron sold his clinic in 2006, but still sees patients on a part-time basis.

 

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