MSD Manual

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Micromineral Functions, Deficiency Diseases, and Interrelationships

Micromineral Functions, Deficiency Diseases, and Interrelationships


Requirement (mg/kg dry matter)

Major Biological Function

Deficiency Disease or Clinical Signs

Interrelationships or Toxicity

Cobalt (Co)


Component of vitamin B12 (ruminants only)

Cobalt needs to be supplied to rumen microbes; toxicosis unlikely

Copper (Cu)


Hemoglobin synthesis; bone formation; pigmentation; myelin formation; oxidation-reduction reactions; immune function

Achromotrichia; neonatal ataxia (swayback); infertility; hypochromic-microcytic anemia; profuse diarrhea; immune failure

High iron, zinc, and selenium reduce availability; excess molybdenum and sulfur inhibit utilization and storage in ruminants; toxicity variable in species, results in hemolytic crisis

Iodine (I)


Thyroxine formation

Goiter; stillbirths, infertility; malformations, hairless neonates; immune failure

Dietary goitrogens inhibit function; high intakes reduce uptake efficiency; toxic intake results in goiter, fetal malformations

Iron (Fe)


Cellular respiration, oxygen transport

Hypochromic-microcytic anemia; easily fatigued

High calcium may decrease absorption; copper status influences metabolism; excessive amounts are pro-oxidants; interferes with copper metabolism

Manganese (Mn)


Bone formation; activator of enzymes with carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism

Crooked calf disease; impaired fertility; poor growth; impaired immune function

Excess calcium and phosphorus decrease availability; toxicosis unlikely; may interfere with other minerals

Selenium (Se)


Antioxidant—cellular iodine function, immune function

Sulfate, acid soil conditions interferes with selenium availability; maximum tolerable level 2 mg/g in nonruminants— alkali disease of horses (chronic toxicosis); acute toxicosis from parenteral products— respiratory collapse

Zinc (Zn)


Component of >90 enzymes influencing all aspects of metabolism immune function

Anorexia; parakeratosis; poor skin and hair formation; male infertility; impaired immune function

High calcium, phytates or oxalates bind zinc; high zinc interferes with copper metabolism