Researchers Study Trace Minerals in Equine Enteroliths

Researchers know diet, breed, high colonic pH levels, and water supply mineral content can impact enterolith formation, but how trace minerals affect the process is less well-understood.
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Researchers Study Trace Minerals in Equine Enteroliths
Researchers know diet, breed, high colonic pH levels, and water supply mineral content can impact enterolith formation, but how trace minerals affect the process is less well-understood. | Photo: iStock

If you’re a horse owner living in the Western U.S., you might be familiar with enteroliths, struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) stones that can grow to the point they become lodged within a horse’s colon. And while enteroliths are more common in states such as California, they can affect horses living in anywhere in the world.

Researchers have found that diet (especially ones high in magnesium, nitrogen, and phosphorus), breed, high pH levels in the colon, and water supply mineral content play major roles in enterolith formation, but how trace minerals affect this process is relatively unknown. To gain more information, a group of researchers recently evaluated the trace element composition and crystallization process of several small enteroliths passed by a senior Arabian horse living in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Trace elements, like zinc and copper, occur in very small amounts in diet but are vitally important in many biological processes,” noted George Lager, PhD, professor emeritus of geosciences at the University of Louisville. “It so happens that these elements are associated with struvite, the mineral that makes up the stones

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Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as a certified equine acupressure practitioner. She also hosts a blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. Once an avid barrel racer, she now enjoys giving back to the horses who have given her so much.

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