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NRC Essential Nutrients: Microminerals

Estimated reading time: 7 min

Minerals are inorganic substances found within food and are found in macro (large) and micro (small) quantities. The six microminerals include iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and manganese. These minerals cannot be synthesized in quantities sufficient to support normal physiologic function and must be supplied within the diet.

The information provided below is based on a healthy pet and recommended allowances (RA) will vary on physiological state. Requirements for essential microminerals depend on growth, lactation, pregnancy, medical conditions, and nutrient interactions within the diet.

Iron

Iron is present in body tissues as hemoglobin and myoglobin. Iron is present in many enzyme and protein responses necessary for oxygen activation, oxygen transportation, and electron transportation.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides minimum and recommended amounts for iron per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

7.5mg recommended allowance

Puppies

18mg minimum allowance
22mg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

20mg recommended allowance

Kittens

17mg minimum allowance
20mg recommended allowance

Iron is present in all raw meats and bones, but is present in higher concentrations in organ content, particularly spleen, liver, and kidney. Iron can be found in plant ingredients to a lesser extent.

rawbisonspleen

1. Beef Spleen

1oz (28g): 12.6mg

duckliver

2. Duck Liver

1oz (28g): 8.66mg

chickenliver

3. Chicken Liver

1oz (28g): 2.55mg

oysters

4. Canned Oysters

1oz (28g): 1.9mg

bluelippedmussels

5. Blue Lipped Mussels

1oz (28g): 1.9mg

beefliver

6. Beef Liver

1oz (28g): 1.4mg

Absorption rates from non-heme iron (plant-based) are influenced by the bodyโ€™s present iron status, by the presence of tannins and phytates, and the excess of specific minerals.

Recommended iron requirements are easily met in a raw diet inclusive of organs. However, it is important to note the recommended allowances for puppies and cats are more than double than adult dog recommendations. The use of spleen is beneficial in diets in these instances.

Zinc

Zinc plays a major role in multiple physiologic functions such as nucleic acid metabolism, protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, immunocompetence, skin and wound healing, cell replication and differentiation, growth, reproduction, and hormone production.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides minimum and recommended amounts for zinc per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

15mg recommended allowance

Puppies

10mg minimum allowance
25mg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

18.5mg recommended allowance

Kittens

12.5mg minimum allowance
18.5mg recommended allowance

Zinc is present in raw muscle meat, particularly red meat, but is in higher concentrations in a few food sources. However, food options are limited for high zinc concentrations.

oysters

1. Canned Oysters

1oz (28g): 25.77mg

rawbeefcheek

2. Beef

1oz (28g): 1.56mg

rawvenison

3. Venison

1oz (28g): 1.19mg

rawlambmeat

4. Lamb

1oz (28g): 1.0mg

rawturkey

5. Turkey

1oz (28g): 0.36mg

Raw diets with low amounts of red meat benefit from the inclusion of a different food source for zinc. Additionally, the recommended allowances for zinc are dependent on copper levels within the diet as they have a symbiotic relationship in aiding the body to maintain homeostasis.

Copper

Copper is found in all body tissues and its primary functions involve red blood cells production, maintaining nerve cells, and immune function. Copper also plays a role in collagen formation, iron absorption, and energy production.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides recommended amounts for copper per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

1.5mg recommended allowance

Puppies

2.7mg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

1.2mg recommended allowance

Kittens

1.1mg minimum allowance
2.1mg recommended allowance

Meat ingredients, specifically liver from ruminant animals like beef liver or lamb liver, are sources of copper. Additionally, moderate copper levels are provided in seeds, nuts, and leafy greens.

beefliver

1. Beef Liver

1oz (28g): 2.75mg

rawlambliver

2. Lamb Liver

1oz (28g): 1.98mg

oysters

3. Canned Oysters

1oz (28g): 1.26mg

turkeyliver

4. Turkey Liver

1oz (28g): 0.24mg

Liver from monogastric animals (one stomach) has significantly lower levels of copper in comparison to ruminant animals (multiple stomachs). Liver sources such as chicken, turkey, rabbit, and pork provide minimal levels of copper in comparison to livers from beef, lamb, and venison.

Iodine

The primary function of iodine is the main component of all thyroid hormones. The production of thyroid hormones plays an active role in thermoregulation, metabolism, reproduction, growth, development, circulation, and muscle function.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides recommended amounts for iodine per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

220mcg recommended allowance

Puppies

220mcg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

450mcg recommended allowance

Kittens

450mcg recommended allowance

Iodine is found in varying amounts in all foods. The highest concentration of iodine is found in sea vegetables and algae.

kelppowder

1. Kelp Powder

90mg = 450mcg

Under and over supplementing iodine can negatively affect pets. It is important to note that iodine levels are often not tested in nutritional analysis, but is available in trace amounts in most foods. However, the addition of whole food for iodine is beneficial to complete the recommended allowances.

Selenium

Selenium plays a critical role in immune function. Selenium acts as a free radical and helps protect cellular and subcellular membranes from oxidative stress. Additionally, selenium spares the vitamin E by preserving pancreatic integrity by allowing normal fat digestion which supports normal vitamin E absorption, reduces the amount of vitamin E required to maintain lipid integrity, and aids in vitamin E retention in blood plasma.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides minimum and recommended amounts for selenium per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

87.5mcg recommended allowance

Puppies

52.5mcg minimum allowance
87.5mcg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

75mcg recommended allowance

Kittens

30mcg recommended allowance
75mcg recommended allowance

brazilnuts

1. Brazil Nuts

1oz (28g): 543.5mcg

rawlambkidneys

2. Pork Kidney

1oz (28g): 53.8mcg

rawbeefkidney

3. Beef Kidney

1oz (28g): 40mcg

rawlambliver

4. Lamb Liver

1oz (28g): 23.4mcg

chickenliver

5. Chicken Liver

1oz (28g): 15.4mcg

Selenium is found among many food sources and is easily met in raw diets. Raw diets including liver, kidney, and eggs will provide recommended allowances for selenium.

Manganese

Manganese functions as a component in cell enzymes and can be found in the mitochondria of cells. Additionally, manganese plays a vital role in bone and cartilage development where it is necessary for joint health.

The National Research Council (NRC) for dogs and cats provides minimum and recommended amounts for manganese per 1000kcal:

Adult Dogs

1.2mg recommended allowance

Puppies

1.4mg recommended allowance

Adult Cats

1.2mg recommended allowance

Kittens

1.2 mg recommended allowance

bluelippedmussels

1. Blue Lipped Mussels

1oz (28g): 1.93mg

Raw diets with green tripe and/or blue musselsย provide sufficient amount of manganese. Increasing manganese amounts proves beneficial for pets who suffer from joint injuries and osteoarthritis.

CLOSING COMMENTS

Overall, raw diets supply sufficient amounts of microminerals needed to support optimal canine health with exception to a couple of minerals. Iodine and manganese are two microminerals that can be deficient in home-prepared raw diets if the appropriate foods are not fed.

Raw diets without kelp will be severely deficient in iodine. If kelp or kelp powder is not fed, an iodine supplement is necessary to supply essential iodine.

In addition to iodine, raw diets can be lacking in manganese if blue mussels and green tripe. However, a raw diet following BARF guidelines will provide these essential nutrients through whole foods.