First of all, several mineral elements are essential for the growth, reproduction, and health of animals. Those required in larger quantities are called Macrominerals. Within this group, we have Calcium, Phosphorus, Na, K, Cl, Mg, and S. These are important structural components of bone and other tissues and also represent important constituents of body fluids. They play vital roles in maintaining acid-base balance, osmotic pressure, membrane electrical potential, and nerve transmission.
Calcium and Phosphorus
They are the two most important minerals from a structural point of view and for different functions. The other 1% of Ca is distributed in cell fluids, where they are involved in different metabolic and physiological activities. Thus, it acts on blood coagulation, nerve impulse, and maintenance of cell permeability, activation of certain enzymes, muscle contraction, or acting as ion channel activators.
On the other hand, phosphorus found in the body’s soft tissues is involved in important phosphorylation reactions that are part of the cellular oxidative pathways for energy metabolism. For example, phosphorus is a component of the central compound in energy metabolism, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a phosphorylated compound. Likewise, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) contain phosphorylated pentose sugars. In addition, it is also part of the cell membrane phospholipids that are involved in maintaining cell fluidity and transporting nutrients to cells.
Disorders associated with Ca deficiency
When dietary Ca does not meet requirements, it is removed from the bone to maintain normal extracellular calcium concentration. If dietary calcium is severely deficient for an extended period, the animal will develop severe bone damage, such as:
- Rickets: Usually associated with vitamin D or P deficiency, but Ca deficiency can also contribute;
- Osteomalacia and Osteoporosis: Resulting from the removal of Ca from bones to maintain extracellular fluid homeostasis;
- Cage laying fatigue: It is an osteoporosis syndrome;
- Eggs with thin and fragile shells;
- Lactational Osteoporosis: Up to 13% of skeletal Ca may occur.
Disorders associated with P deficiency
First, P is found in relatively large amounts in grains and smaller amounts in forages. Unfortunately, 35-70% of plant-derived P is linked to phytic acid. Therefore, it is almost completely unavailable for monogastric animals.
Therefore, if there is no correct supplementation with inorganic sources, the animal may present:
- Reduction in growth;
- Decrease in fertility rate;
- Rickets, osteomalacia, among others.
Sources of Ca and P
Calcitic limestone, dolomitic limestone, oyster meal, Ca carbonate, and dicalcium phosphate. Dicalcium phosphate has participation between 30 to 50% in supplements with the highest sales volume. Animal sources such as meat and bone meal can only be included in monogastric diets. On the other hand, they are strictly prohibited for ruminants, like any other animal products.
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