Novus International via Feedinfo News Service

21 January 2020 – Trace minerals are essential to hundreds of different functions in the body, each of which can have an effect on one another. But the ongoing debates around inclusion limits on trace minerals such as copper, manganese and zinc across global markets, is causing some concerns.

There are many trace mineral products available on the market today, all of which bring different levels of scientific research and knowledge to the table. These varying levels of scientific evidence create confusion and cause misinformation. Moreover, conditions in a research setting can vary greatly from those on-farm.

Also, when looking at trace mineral research from 10-20 years ago, studies were often designed around one mineral: zinc, copper or managanese. Over time, scientists have learned more about how different minerals benefit each other, but also how they hinder each other.

So due to the plethora of information about trace minerals out there, it is very important that producers learn the science behind a product, its mode of action, and how it can react in different species and with other additives in the diet.

Heather Tucker, research scientist at Novus International – the manufacturer of the MINTREX® trace mineral range – sat down with Feedinfo News Service to explain why organic trace minerals play a vital role.

[Feedinfo News Service] With more and more inclusion limits on trace minerals being discussed, what advantages does MINTREX® offer?

Heather Tucker
Research Scientist
Novus International

[Heather Tucker] The goal of these limits is to lower the total inclusion level on trace minerals due to environmental concerns. In order to do that without losing the benefits of said minerals, nutritionists need a product that is going to deliver more mineral to where it needs to be while feeding less overall. This is where MINTREX® chelated trace minerals come in. MINTREX® is the only commercially available bis-chelate on the market for use in animal feed and contains HMTBa as the ligand, providing additional benefit. MINTREX® is the most bioavailable trace mineral option, meaning it delivers the most product to the site of absorption. This allows for those lower inclusion levels to be met without sacrificing performance of the animal.

[Feedinfo News Service] What are the main physical properties and advantages of organic trace minerals compared with inorganic trace minerals? Is the MINTREX® range still confronted with competition from inorganic trace minerals?

[Heather Tucker] The simplest way to explain the differences is by understanding the bonds surrounding the mineral: in the case of inorganic trace minerals (ITMs) it is an ionic bond that creates the mineral salt through opposite charge attraction. In an organic trace mineral (OTM) a much stronger covalent bond is what binds the mineral to a ligand, improving its bond strength through electron sharing. But even within OTMs it is important to understand that there are significant differences. What sets MINTREX® apart is two things: 1) the mineral is chelated, meaning there are four coordinate covalent bonds surrounding each mineral; 2) the ligand is HMTBa, which provides benefits in and of itself once it separates from the mineral in the small intestine and is absorbed. The neutral charge achieved with the structure of the MINTREX® molecule makes it less reactive to antagonisms in the environment, feed and upper GI tract thereby ensuring that the mineral reaches the site of absorption.

We are confronted with competition from inorganic minerals to an extent. We work with customers around the world and they all have different goals and strategies for reaching those goals. We’ve found that when someone doesn’t understand the value of using organic trace minerals, they’ll use an inorganic product. To help our customers understand the true value that can be realised in their operations with MINTREX®, we developed the VERIFY™ profit tool. This is a tool that we use to show customers the projected performance benefits and the subsequent return on investment amongst different trace mineral sources.

[Feedinfo News Service] Can you talk more about the challenges faced with changing pH environments?

[Heather Tucker] People often think that chemical bonds are static; that they don’t change but the truth is that it is a more dynamic process with electrons being shared back and forth between molecules. That electron sharing can be affected by changes in pH, with the biggest changes occuring in an acidic environemnt. In an acidic pH environment, like what is present in the stomach of the animal, more protons are present creating competition between molecules. This competition between molecules can result in disassociation of the desired complex. With organic trace minerals, because the bond is more secure, the changes in pH that occur throughout digestion have less effect on the bond structure, allowing more mineral to reach the site of absorption. What we’ve seen with MINTREX® is that the molecule is able to reach the site of absorption in the small intestine, at which time the transporter can grab the mineral because the affinity of the transporter for the mineral is stronger than the forces holding HMTBa and the mineral together. What is also important to remember is that MINTREX® does not change the pH of the gut. Novus currently markets a line of organic acids that work on the pH of the small intestine to optimize animal performace. Their mode of action is very different than MINTREX® as these organic acids are not a source of trace mineral.

[Feedinfo News Service] Are there other key functions of MINTREX® that will be investigated by Novus scientists in 2020?

[Heather Tucker] Novus’s Research and Development team is always looking at ways to differentiate MINTREX® in the various markets we serve. The zinc oxide ban in Europe, diseases, animal welfare concerns, sustainable production practices; these are global concerns and, most importantly, challenges our customers are facing. We are looking at how MINTREX® combined with Novus solutions, and even other products on the market, can be used to address these concerns.

[Feedinfo News Service] A couple of years ago, Novus CEO François Fraudeau told us that organic trace minerals are ranked second after methionine in the list of core technology platforms that define Novus. Is that the case today?

[Heather Tucker] Minerals are still very much a key focus for Novus as is evidenced by our continued investment in research and commercialisation. We have a history of success with ALIMET®, our HMTBa source of methionine, and that molecule is the foundation for the MINTREX® line of products. The proprietary 2:1 chelated structure utilising HMTBa has shown time and time again to be successful in optimising the trace mineral status of livestock and poultry in both controlled research and commercial settings. We are continuing our investment in MINTREX® chelated trace minerals to expand our comprehension of how the molecule benefits the animal and better define what makes it superior to other organic trace minerals.

Published in association with Novus International