Several minerals are required for life to exist. In animals, 7 elements (Ca, P, Mg, Na, K, Cl, and S) are required to be present in the diet in fairly large amounts (grams to tens of grams each day for the dairy cow) and are termed macrominerals. Several other elements are termed microminerals or trace minerals because they are required in much smaller amounts (milligrams to micrograms each day). In most cases the mineral in the diet must be absorbed across the gastrointestinal mucosa and enter the blood if it is to be of value to the animal. The bulk of this review discusses the paracellular and transcellular mechanisms used by the gastrointestinal tract to absorb each of the various minerals needed. Unfortunately, particularly in ruminants, interactions between minerals and other substances within the diet can occur within the digestive tract that impair mineral absorption. The attributes of organic or chelated minerals that might permit diet minerals to circumvent factors that inhibit absorption of more traditional inorganic forms of these minerals are discussed. Once absorbed, minerals are used in many ways. One focus of this review is the effect macrominerals have on the acid-base status of the animal. Manipulation of dietary cation and anion content is commonly used as a tool in the dry period and during lactation to improve performance. A section on how the strong ion theory can be used to understand these effects is included. Many microminerals play a role in the body as cofactors of enzymes involved in controlling free radicals within the body and are vital to antioxidant capabilities. Those same minerals, when consumed in excess, can become pro-oxidants in the body, generating destructive free radicals. Complex interactions between minerals can compromise the effectiveness of a diet in promoting health and productivity of the cow. The objective of this review is to provide insight into some of these mechanisms.
Keywords: adipogenesis; fatty acid; lipogenesis; stromal vascular cell.
The Authors. Published by FASS Inc. and Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).