The MSU VDL offers mineral and elemental testing for both toxicological and nutritional evaluation. Testing may be done across a broad range of sample types including feed, water, soil, animal tissues, blood, urine and other fluids.

Minerals in Tissue, Fixed Tissue, & Water

Mineral analysis of tissue samples (Minerals, Tissue - 50254) is primarily used to assist the veterinary clinician in the diagnosis of mineral deficiencies or imbalances (cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc) and/or heavy metal exposure (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and thallium). Fresh liver is the preferred specimen for this test; however, other tissues, such as kidney, may also provide valuable information. Samples should be sent to the laboratory overnight in a leakproof container, either frozen or on ice. This test can be done on samples as small as 50 mg (biopsy samples).

Formalin-fixed samples are not recommended, but can be analyzed (Minerals, Fixed Tissue - 50255); the following elements are included: copper, iron, lead, selenium, and zinc. For water samples (Minerals, Water - 70059), reports include: aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, sulfur, thallium, and zinc.

Primary Trace Nutrient Minerals

The Primary Trace Nutrient Panel (50701) is run on serum samples and includes: cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. Samples should be sent in a leakproof tube. Samples should be collected in test tubes designed for trace mineral analysis; see our test catalog for more information or contact laboratory for details. Generally, serum samples may be shipped at ambient temperature, but during hot months we recommend shipping with an ice pack using the MSU VDL Insulated Mailer with UPS overnight delivery.

Mineral Disorders

Mineral deficiencies or imbalances may occur individually or in various combinations. Problems with trace mineral nutrition may lead to: ill thrift and poor growth and development; abortion and retained placenta; fetal abnormalities; reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to disease; infertility; poor skin, hair, fleece, and hoof quality.

For additional information, including prices, collection protocol, shipping requirements and more, please see our catalog of available tests or contact the lab at 517.353.1683.

Are serum or blood sample analyses really good indicators of mineral nutritional status in animals?

The answer here depends on the mineral. Serum selenium concentration is a good measure of selenium status, and whole-blood selenium concentration appears to be even better.

Serum magnesium concentration is a good measure of magnesium nutritional status.

Serum iron concentration can be a good indicator of iron status, but serum iron is subject to metabolic as well as nutritional influences. Evaluation of iron status should include other tests in addition to serum iron concentration.

Serum copper concentration is intermediate among the other minerals in its usefulness for assessing nutritional status. Low serum copper concentration is a meaningful indicator of copper deficiency. However, marginal deficiencies in copper intake may exist even though the serum copper concentration is adequate.

Serum zinc concentrations are fairly insensitive measures of zinc status, but as with serum copper, low serum zinc concentrations are associated with dietary zinc deficiency.

Serum manganese and cobalt concentrations are more difficult to interpret than other minerals, but determination of their serum concentrations may still be useful as screening tools.