Trace minerals are a small component of your horse’s overall dietary intake, but they play essential roles in equine well-being and health.

These minerals can be provided in your horse’s diet in either an organic or inorganic form. Not to be confused with organically-grown foods, organic minerals are bonded to organic compounds in their molecular structure.

This structural difference impacts mineral absorption in the gastrointestinal tract: organic minerals are easier to absorb for your horse’s body than inorganic minerals.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between organic and inorganic minerals, the benefits of feeding organic minerals, and how to tell which forms of minerals are used in horse feeds and supplements.

Organic Vs Inorganic Trace Minerals

What are organic trace minerals?

Organic compounds are substances, “relating to, or derived from, living matter.”

All living matter contains the element carbon in its molecular structure. Organic minerals must have a carbon-containing molecule in their molecular structure.

For example, zinc proteinates are a form of the mineral zinc bounded to amino acids.

These amino acids contain carbon in their molecular structure, making the zinc proteinate an organic trace mineral. In the image below, the carbon atoms are represented by green C’s.

What are inorganic trace minerals?

Inorganic minerals are bound to compounds that do not contain carbon, such as sulphates or oxides. They have been traditionally used in feeds since inorganic minerals are cheaper and easier to produce.

For example, zinc sulphate is zinc bounded to a sulfur molecule. This molecule has no carbon in its structure, so would be considered an inorganic mineral.

In the image below, note that there are no green C’s representing carbon atoms in the molecular structure for zinc sulphate.

Are Organic Minerals Better than Inorganic Minerals?

Organic trace minerals are considered superior to inorganic minerals because of improved outcomes seen in feeding trials.

When animals are fed organic trace minerals, researchers observe improved mineral absorption and increased production responses. [1][2][3][4][5][6]

These improvements are attributed to a higher bioavailability of organic minerals. Bioavailability reflects how easily the mineral is absorbed and utilized in the body. Improved absorption of organic minerals is shown by increased mineral levels in tissues and decreased fecal excretion. [1][3][4][5]

These research studies are mostly performed on agricultural animal species. However, recent research on horses also shows several benefits of feeding organic trace minerals.

To ensure your horse is getting the appropriate mineral source to meet their needs, submit your horse’s diet online and receive a complementary evaluation from our equine nutritionists.

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Top 3 Benefits of Organic Minerals

1) Improved Mineral Absoprtion

Inorganic minerals can interfere with the absorption of other minerals or compounds in the digestive tract. For example,