The Science of Bioavailability:  Why Salt Licks Matter

The Science of Bioavailability: Why Salt Licks Matter


1960 marked the beginning of the era of Industrialized Agriculture.

The earth’s population crossed 3 billion people.  We improved farm yields using fertilizers and pesticides to mass produce cheap wheat, corn and soybeans. 

We confined chickens, fish, cows and pigs into feed lots and feed them diets that rely on cheap corn and soybeans.

Pharmaceutical companies developed antibiotics and vaccines to keep animals healthy at high densities until time to slaughter.

But even in cattle feed lots you typically find salt licks in the pen. 

Wild animals figured this out millions of years ago seeking out salt deposits to complement their intake of plants.   Salt tastes good but salt deposits are loaded with impurities such as iron, zinc and magnesium, minerals essential for health and the immune system.

Salt Licks & Iron

1 in 20 Americans suffer from iron deficiency (anemia).

We all know iron is critical to the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout our body. 

There are three ways to get iron into our bloodstream.

-  Eat meat.  Animals are loaded with the “heme” form of iron. Heme iron is readily absorbed into our bodies.

- Eat plants.  Lentils, pumpkin seeds, kale and chickpeas are loaded with “non heme” iron.  This form of iron is not easily absorbed by humans and requires careful dietary planning to get your daily dose of iron intake.

- Take iron supplements.  The most common iron supplement is ferrous sulfate. 

Also known as an iron rich salt lick.

Salt licks & Zinc

Zinc is used by animals to make DNA and as an anti-inflammatory agent in our immune system.   The primary source of zinc for humans is shellfish (oysters!), red meat and poultry.

Shitake mushrooms, lima beans, asparagus, broccoli, green peas and spinach absorb zinc from the soil and are marketed as sources of dietary zinc. These plants, however,  also make phytic acids that bind to zinc preventing zinc from being absorbed by our bodies. 

Zinc forms a variety of compounds including zinc gluconate (a common over the counter supplement and used in cold remedies)  zinc orotate, and zinc citrate but the bioavailability of each form is not well known. 

Salt licks contain zinc without phytic acids.

You knew that already.

Salt licks  & Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is nature’s most powerful antioxidant protecting  iron, zinc and many other minerals and enzymes from being oxidized.   We need those minerals and enzymes to make energy and boost our immune system.

Unlike iron, zinc and magnesium,   astaxanthin is not found in salt deposits so needs to come from somewhere else.  

Wild goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, deer, seafood and buffalo are all fantastic sources of astaxanthin.  Like humans, none of these animals make astaxanthin so they need to find sources of astaxanthin in their diet and the only source is for these animals to eat meat.    Did you know deer are omnivores?   Tiny animals such as copepods, krill and anthropoids act as the factory making “heme” astaxanthin to power up the rest of the animal kingdom with this powerful antioxidant. The rest of us need to eat copepods or eat animals that do. 

Plants don’t make astaxanthin with one exception.  Haematococcus pluvialis (Hp) is a fresh water algae found in northern rivers. During the onset of winter,  Hp hibernates by making a cyst or protective shield around the algae cell.  Astaxanthin protects the algae from UV damage, freezing, desiccation (loss of water) & oxidation. The cyst also protects the algae  (and the astaxanthin) from being digested by any hungry fish that wanders by.

Brilliant but not bioavailable to humans. 

If you are vegan,  the only way to get astaxanthin is by taking astaxanthin supplements.

The levels of astaxanthin in krill or copepods makes it uneconomical for supplement providers to extract astaxanthin from these animals and sell as a supplement.  The industry turned to extracting astaxanthin from Hp biomass using a process called Super Critical Carbon Dioxide Extraction.  That process uses carbon dioxide, heat and pressure to extract astaxanthin from the Hp cyst.  Unfortunately this process results in very poor bioavailability as the resulting product is too big to pass easily through the digestive tract and blood stream.    That does not stop the astaxanthin supplement industry from selling you a story.

Our immune booster supplement from Adjuvia uses mechanical and chemical energy to pulverize Hp and other yeasts and algae into a nano-emulsified oil containing  astaxanthin and 7 other minerals and vitamins in forms that are highly bioavailable to humans.   

All of the minerals found in a salt lick without the salt.   Plus astaxanthin to protect those minerals from being oxidized prior to use.   Imagine what these nutrients can do to boost your immune system performance.