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TRAACS® stands for The Real Amino Acid Chelate System and is Albion® Human Nutrition’s branded trade name for a range of its exclusive patented products. The TRAACS name is reflective of a patented method for testing, which is detailed below.

Over the years, the industry has come to look to Albion for all things relating to mineral amino acid chelate technology such as manufacturing, R&D, clinical research, and patents (use, process and composition), as well as laboratory testing. The number of patents and published clinical studies related to Albion mineral amino chelates are well into the hundreds. No other chelate manufacturer can make this claim. In fact, no other mineral amino acid chelate producer has validated their product, and they have never published a clinical study on their “chelates.”  
Albion Human Nutrition has made technical breakthroughs in the validation technique for the identification and measurement of the degree of chelation of a mineral amino acid chelate. Prior to this, validation required several tests and needed much more time. This new testing method has been put through the AOAC’s single laboratory validation and was presented at their annual meeting. This method uses fast-fourier transforming infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). In short, FT-IR measures the amount of infrared light that a compound absorbs at different wave lengths. Different bonds in a compound will absorb infrared light at different wavelengths of this light.
A mineral amino acid chelate is composed of an amino acid that has two or more donor groups combined with the mineral so that one or more rings are formed, with the mineral being the closing component of this heterocyclic ring. Chelate structures contain covalent bonds, which give these chelates properties that are much different than ionically bonded mineral salt forms. Mineral amino acid chelates are bidentate (the mineral is attached at two ends of the amino acid ligand) and have a ring in their structure, while mineral complexes are unidentate (mineral is attached at one end of its ligand) with no ring structure. It has been shown that a bidentate (chelated) glycino group absorbs at the IR wavelength of 1643 cm-1, an ionized unidentate at 1610 cm-1, and a unionized unidentate at 1710 cm-1. In addition, it has been shown that the carboxyl group in the amino acid glycine absorbs at the band of infra-red light of 504 cm-1. The degree of absorption at this band segment has been shown to diminish as the amount of bound glycine increases in a sample. This is demonstrated in Figure 1, where it can be seen that as the absorbance at 504 cm-1 goes down, the ratio of bound copper bisglycinate to free glycine goes up.
Absorbance graph.

As can be seen in Table 1 below, there are other band segments of the IR spectra that can be used in the identification of bisglycinate amino acid chelates. The band segments of greatest interest for the identification of a mineral amino acid chelate relate to the bonds from the mineral to the amino and carboxyl portions of the amino acid. Table 1 tells the differences found in the spectra of glycine and identified zinc bisglycinate chelate.

 Zinc Bisglycinate Crystals IR Spectra.

The differences in the spectra of absorption between the glycine and the zinc bisglycinate chelate indicate the bonding to the mineral in the chelate structure at the amino (NH) and the carboxyl (COOH) ends. As listed in the above table and shown in Figure 2 (representing the entire IR spectra for a zinc bisglycinate chelate) the peak absorption for the zinc bisglycinate chelate at 1643 cm-1 is evidence of the ring formation seen in a true mineral amino acid chelate.

 FTIR Spectra graph.

The Patented TRAACS® Test

The testing method that Albion Human Nutrition has developed for the TRAACS identification process has been issued a US patent (#7,144,737, Process for determining percent chelation in a dry mixture). However, we will not use this patent to prevent anyone from using this breakthrough method. Albion would like this method to become commonplace in the industry. Our key technical personnel will be able to provide guidance in using this new testing technique.

Albion has been using this testing method to validate its mineral amino acid chelates. With the introduction of TRAACS, Albion has also introduced an advanced certificate of analysis (COA) to further underscore the validity of the Albion produced mineral amino acid chelates. This advanced COA features the FT-IR tracing for the TRAAC product range. This will give our customers a valid method for the identification of the amino acid chelates in question. To date, Albion is the only chelate manufacturer that is providing identification and identification methods for its chelates.

It is our hope that over time, dietary supplement, pharmaceutical, and food companies will begin to use this test as a matter of routine when doing their QC on incoming mineral amino acid chelate materials. By doing so, these companies will be certain that they are supplying their customers with a validated mineral amino acid chelate, and the consumer can buy from them with confidence that they are getting what they paid for.

Testing Mineral Amino Acid Chelates

Albion Human Nutrition has often been approached to test mineral amino chelates that have been produced by other mineral suppliers. In truth, we have not found that any of our competitors have produced a mineral amino acid chelate that meets the definition of a reacted mineral amino acid chelate as defined by the NNFA (see in table 2).


Metal Amino Acid Chelate is the product resulting from the reaction of a metal ion from a soluble metal salt with amino acids with a mole ratio of one mole of metal to one to three (preferably two) moles of amino acids to form coordinate covalent bonds. The average molecular weight of the hydrolyzed amino acids must be about 150 AMU (Atomic Mass Units) and the resulting chelate must not exceed 800 AMU. The minimum elemental metal content must be declared. It will be declared as a METAL amino acid chelate; e.g. Copper Amino Acid Chelate. 

Adopted by the NNFA Board of Directors July 1996 


With the advent of this new AAOC approved test method, Albion has used this test on some of the competitions’ chelates, along with some additional tests that we know give further evidence of an ingredient being a reacted mineral amino acid chelate. In Figure 3, the FT-IR test was applied to Albion's branded ferrous bisglycinate chelate (Ferrochel®) and a sample of another manufacturer's “equivalent” iron amino acid chelate. As demonstrated in the results, it is evident the competition's “chelate” is not a chelate, and thus not equivalent to Albion's Ferrochel.

Figure 3. Ferrochel graph.

To further demonstrate the difference between Albion's Ferrochel® and the other company's “chelated” iron product, Albion did additional tests related to the parameters of a true mineral amino acid chelate. Figure 4 gives a summary of these test findings.

Chemical comparison of Ferrochel.

As stated in Figure 4, the ligand:metal ratio (L:M ratios) for Ferrochel® is 2:1, while Company F's iron amino acid “chelate” product has a L:M of 0.7:1. This is a very critical point. A mineral amino acid chelate can exist at a molar ratio (L:M) of 1:1 to 3: 1, and the preference for minerals of +2 valence is a 2:1 molar ratio, which gives a +2 mineral the optimum chemical attributes to provide the highest level of mineral amino acid chelate advantages. In a case where the mineral is a +3 valence, the optimum molar ratio is 3: 1. Company F's 0.7:1 molar ratio tells us that there is 0.7 moles of the amino acid ligand for every 1.0 moles of the mineral iron. This would mean that we do not have a true mineral amino acid chelate. To further show that Company F's product is not a mineral amino acid chelate; the ingredients were put into water and then passed through a filter. In the case of Albion's Ferrochel, the L:M ratio of the filtrate and the precipitate gathered in the filter was the same, which tells you that none of the iron separated from the ligand, which is an attribute of a mineral amino acid chelate. In the case of company F, the molar ratios of the iron and the ligand, which were already too low to be a chelate, were different for the filtrate and the precipitate. In addition, ferrous sulfate crystals were recovered from the liquid. Conclusion, Company F's iron amino acid “chelate” is not a chelate, and it is not to be considered an equivalent to Albion's Ferrochel.


The new testing method can be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the mineral amino acid chelate field of technology. It will allow the producers of real amino acid chelates to be separated from the adulterated product that has been sold as their equivalents for many years. Albion Human Nutrition stands ready to back its TRAACS range of mineral amino acid chelates with this proven method for validating its chelates.

For a complete listing of all of the Albion Human Nutrition TRAACS minerals, contact Albion at (800) 222-0733.

No one can follow in Albion's TRAACS!

Balchem acquired Albion.