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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2008 Apr;92(2):173-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2007.00724.x.

Mineral balance in horses fed two supplemental silicon sources.

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Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Numerous studies suggest that silicon (Si) supplementation is beneficial for mineral metabolism and bone health. Mineral balance studies have not been performed in horses to determine how these supplements affect absorption of other minerals. The purpose of these studies was to investigate the effects of two different Si supplements on mineral absorption and retention in horses. Eight geldings were randomly placed in one of two groups: control (CO) or supplemental Si, which was provided by one of two supplements. The first, sodium aluminium silicate (SA), contains a bioavailable form of Si and is high in aluminium (Al). The second supplement contains oligomeric orthosilicic acid (OSA). All horses received textured feed and ad libitum access to hay. Supplemented horses received either 200 g of SA or 28.6 ml of OSA per day. Following a 10-day adaptation period, the horses underwent a 3-day total collection. Blood samples were taken on days 0 and 13. The two balance studies were conducted 4 months apart to reduce carryover effects. Intakes of Al and Si were greater with SA supplementation (p < 0.05). Sodium aluminium silicate increased faecal and urinary Si excretion (p < 0.05). Calcium retention and apparent digestion were increased by SA (p < 0.05). It also maintained plasma Si compared with the CO which tended to have a decrease in plasma Si (p = 0.08). Supplemental OSA increased retention of Ca and B (p < 0.05) and apparent digestion of B (p < 0.01). Orthosilicic acid tended to increase Si retention (p = 0.054), apparent digestion (p < 0.065), and also increased plasma Si. Both supplements were able to alter Ca retention and B metabolism, however, only OSA was able to alter Si retention, digestibility and plasma concentration. Orthosilicic acid, an Si supplement without substantial Al, appears to be a viable option for Si supplementation as it increased Si retention and digestibility.

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