Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is naturally found in mitochondria–the energy-producing structures inside cells. . Research in horses shows it has the ability to reduce oxidative stress. Because it also stimulates the movement of blood sugar across membranes and into cells, it helps increase insulin sensitivity and lower high blood sugar.
Apple Cider Vinegar is rich in potassium and contains all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients of the original apple. It is reported to act as a system detoxifier, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-catarrhal (helps remove excess mucus), a digestive aid and a bitter (helps stimulate the flow of digestive juices, improve the appetite and support the liver).
Arginine is an essential amino acid in horses. It is required for the removal of ammonia (a toxic by-product) from the body and the release of certain hormones, and plays a role in wound healing and immune function. It is a precursor to many other compounds such as creatine, which is important in muscle, and nitric oxide, which is important in blood vessels. Specifically, nitric oxide signals the smooth muscle of blood vessels to relax, resulting in increased blood flow to certain areas.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Limited research in horses suggests these specific amino acids are mobilized during exercise and used by the body for energy. This preserves muscle glycogen and other, structural amino acids. BCAAs are therefore believed to delay the onset of fatigue and prevent muscle breakdown especially during aerobic exercise, particularly endurance events.
Betaine is a product of choline, a Vitamin B-like substance. People take Betaine to prevent heart disease because it lowers the levels of the toxic compound homocysteine. In horses, it has been shown to reduce lactic acid build-up following exercise in untrained animals. Betaine is also recognized as an “osmolyte,” or, a substance which protects cells against osmotic stress. This type of stress occurs when the concentration of molecules outside the cell is greater than that inside the cell and water flows out, causing the cell to shrink and possibly die.
Whey is the product obtained by separating milk solids (curds) from milk liquids (whey). In addition to being high-quality, easily digestible protein which supplies essential amino acids to the body,it support the body’s immune system and natural antioxidants.
Biotin is a member of the B-vitamin family and, like some other vitamins, is a co-enzyme for several metabolic pathways It is vital to the growth of strong, healthy hooves due to its role in collagen formation A number of research studies show that long-term, daily supplementation of Biotin improves the growth rate and hardness of hooves, especially in horses with less than optimum quality hoof horn (soft, brittle, chipped) In addition, because it is a component of the enzyme responsible for the utilization of glucose by the liver, it may support proper insulin and glucose levels.
Calcium (Ca) is a macromineral found in highest amounts in bone and teeth. It also has important roles in muscle contraction, cell membranes, blood clotting, enzyme regulation and hormone release. Absorption of Calcium from the small intestine is controlled by Vitamin D but can be reduced if there is too much Phosphorus in the diet.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid that transports fat into mitochondria for aerobic oxidation and energy generation By enhancing the body’s use of fat for energy and therefore sparing muscle glycogen, Carnitine may provide benefits during aerobic exercise, particularly endurance events.
Chloride (Cl) is a macromineral commonly referred to as an electrolyte because it helps maintain the body’s acid/base balance and hydration status. It is also commonly referred to as “salt” when combined with its partner Sodium. Chloride is an essential component of two intestinal secretions necessary for digestion and absorption of nutrients: bile and hydrochloric acid (HCL), better known as “stomach acid.” When the horse’s Sodium needs are met, its Chloride needs are usually also met.
Choline is an essential nutrient that is a precursor of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter). Has indications for concentration, memory and muscle performance and prevents fat build-up in the liver.
Chondroitin Sulfate is not only the building block of the much larger molecules hyaluronic acid (HA) and proteoglycan (PG) it also inhibits the effects of various enzymes that degrade cartilage Research has shown that chondroitin sulfate is bioavailable in the horse and that it appears to work synergistically with glucosamine to stimulate new cartilage production and inhibit cartilage breakdown.
Chromium (Cr) is a trace mineral which works with insulin to regulate blood sugar. By helping insulin work properly, it may be useful in managing the insulin resistance seen with Equine Metabolic Syndrome and in managing excitable horses on high grain diets that “tie up” due to stress. However, because PSSM horses display abnormal insulin sensitivity, chromium may not be recommended for horses with this particular muscle disorder.
Copper (Cu) is a micromineral required for production of normal connective tissues including tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone As a component of many enzyme systems, it is also involved in making Iron available to the body for blood, in producing skin and coat pigments, in proper nerve signaling and in repairing antioxidants Low Copper levels in mares and foals have been implicated in developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) including osteochrondrosis (OCD).
DHA is a specific kind of omega-3 fatty acid that is only found in marine-based sources such as fish oil and algae. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and retina, and studies in humans and dogs have shown improvement in brain function when supplemented with DHA. Studies in horses have shown that stallions with fertility issues benefited significantly when supplemented with DHA.
EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) is a specific kind of omega-3 fatty acid that is only found in marine-based sources such as fish oil and algae. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) lists a large number of conditions in humans in which EPA and other omega-3s are thought to be effective, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, asthma and others. EPA is believed to work by suppressing production of inflammatory agents in the body such as cyclooxygenase.
Fish Oil is an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In particular it contains two Omega 3s-eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA)-with proven health benefits. In humans, EPA has been shown to improve a number of conditions including heart disease, arthritis and kidney disease. Studies in animals have demonstrated that DHA specifically improves brain function in growing puppies and senior dogs as well as reproductive ability in stallions.
Flax Seed is a rich source of the essential fatty acids (EFAs) alpha-linolenic acid, an Omega 3, and linoleic acid, an Omega 6, in an ideal ratio of 4:1. In fact, Flax is one of the greatest plant sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Besides its 40% fat make-up, Flax also contains protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and offers the benefits of lignans, antioxidants with estrogen-like activity.
Glucosamine is the building block of chondroitin sulfate, a specific type of polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG). Current research suggests glucosamine has two beneficial actions in joints. Not only does it increase the production of new GAGs and therefore new cartilage, glucosamine has also been shown to inhibit the free radicals and enzymes that break down cartilage. This small but complex molecule has an important role in both the production and protection of joints.
L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, especially in muscle tissue. Although it is not an essential amino acid, there is such great demand for its use in the body that production may not be able to keep up with consumption, so supplementing may be necessary. Glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid, including building muscle, repairing intestinal tissue and enhancing the immune system.
Glycine is one of the simplest amino acids and is classified as nonessential because it does not need to be supplied in the diet. However, this compact substance plays many essential roles in the body. Best known as a neurotransmitter, Glycine makes up 35% of the protein collagen, is a key component in many metabolic reactions, and has anti-inflammatory as well as immune-modulating properties. Recently, it has been shown to inhibit gastric secretions and protect gastric mucosa against chemical and stress-induced ulcers.
Honey is both a food and a medicine. That is, it is a source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients but also possesses beneficial properties to the body. For example, there are many bacteria that cannot live in honey. In people it is commonly used in cough syrups for sore throats and inflammation of the respiratory tract as well as mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar for rheumatism and arthritis.
Hyaluronic Acid ,or HA, is an integral component of joint cartilage and joint fluid, providing both lubrication and shock absorption Hyaluronic acid is what makes joint fluid “sticky.” Because it blocks inflammatory reactions, protecting cells in the joint, HA is especially useful in acute situations as well as flare-ups of chronic joint conditions.
Inositol is closely related to the B-vitamin family and is found in nearly every cell in the body. Because of its location within the cell membrane, it plays two major roles: transporting fats and assisting in nerve transmission. By participating in the action of serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose brain levels are known to be a factor in anxiety, inositol may be helpful in nervous horses.
Inulin – see Prebiotics
Iron (Fe) is a micromineral found in the hemoglobin of red blood cells (RBCs), the myoglobin of muscle cells, and various enzyme systems Many horsemen supplement Iron to enhance energy levels and performance, but Iron deficiency in horses is rare and increasing Iron in the body has not been shown to improve RBCs or athletic ability Because horses usually receive plenty of Iron in their diets, and because excess Iron in the body can cause deficiencies of other microminerals, it should only be supplemented when anemia due to Iron deficiency has been verified by a veterinarian through blood work.
Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus) is one of the richest sources of minerals in the plant world. Also known as “Bladderwrack,” it supports the body’s hormonal system, particularly the thyroid gland. It should be used with caution in the case of an overactive thyroid. Due to its mucilage content Kelp can also be used as a gentle bulk laxative, and is beneficial to both male and female reproductive systems as well as the liver and pancreas.
Lactobacillus acidophilus see Probiotic
Lactobacillus casei see Probiotic
Lactobacillus plantarum see Probiotic
Lactococcus lactis see Probiotic
Lecithin Lecithin is a naturally occurring fatty substance or phospholipid. Found in both plant and animal tissue, soybeans are the most widely recognized source of Lecithin. It has been shown to protect gastric tissue in several animal species, including horses, by supporting the stomach’s natural anti-ulcer defense systems in two ways. First, it forms a barrier between stomach contents and epithelial cells and second, it helps with cell membrane turnover and wound resealing. An integral component of all cell membranes, Lecithin is also important for strong connective tissue and hoof structure as well as a supple and shiny hair coat.
Lysine is an amino acid and the only one for which a requirement in the horse has been established by the NRC. It is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be provided in the diet since the body cannot create enough of its own. Lysine is also a limiting amino acid. This means if it is not present in adequate amounts it limits the body’s ability to make protein. Lysine is required for all ages and uses of horses, but it is especially important in pregnant and lactating mares, young growing horses, and senior horses.
Magnesium (Mg) is a macromineral that serves as an electrolyte in the blood, as an activator of hundreds of enzymes, and as a participant in muscle contractions A normal diet can meet the Magnesium requirements of most adult horses in maintenance However, pregnant and lactating mares, young growing horses, and especially horses in moderate to heavy work have additional requirements for Magnesium Because one of the clinical signs of Magnesium deficiency is nervousness, it is added to many calming supplements.
Manganese (Mn) is a micromineral crucial for proper formation of chondroitin sulfate and therefore healthy bones and joints It is also essential in carbohydrate and fat metabolism Supplementation should be considered because not all diets provide the same levels of Manganese, it is among the least toxic of the trace minerals, and it plays an important role in young growing horses as well as active performance horses.
Methionine is an amino acid that contains sulfur. It is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be provided in the diet since the body cannot create enough of its own. It may be the second limiting amino acid, after lysine. This means if it is not present in adequate amounts it limits the body’s ability to make protein. Methionine can be converted by the body into another sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine. Because the concentration of both these amino acids is highest in hoof and hair, methionine especially is often included in hoof supplements.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a source of organic sulfur which is required for a number of functions in the body. Sulfur plays critical roles in the formation of protein, connective tissue, immunoglobulins and enzymes. MSM is a safe and inexpensive compound that may support healthy joints; a strong immune system; and resilient skin, coat and hooves.
Niacinamide is a form of niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, nicotinic acid, or nicotinamide. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences in the activity of the different forms. Niacin is used in a wide range of conditions in people based on its cell-protecting effects especially in blood vessels, nerve tissue, the digestive system and skin. The Niacin family also plays an important role in energy production and in the synthesis of many important compounds including proteins, fats and DNA.
Octacosanol is a compound primarily found in wheat germ that is used by people to improve their physical fitness. While some studies do show improvement in athletic performance, other research explores the compound’s ability to improve cholesterol metabolism and protect the liver from oxidative stress.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are named for their chemical structure but are valued for their health benefits In order for the body to function well, there must be a balance between the omega-3s (generally considered anti-inflammatory) and the omega-6s (generally considered pro-inflammatory) Unfortunately, horses that do not have access to grass may be getting too many omega-6 fatty acids from their fortified grain To bring the ratio back into balance, many people feed flax seed to their horses, the greatest plant source of omega-3s Flax seed is 40% oil, and nearly 60% of that oil is alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 that can be converted by the body into DHA and EPA, which have additional benefits.
Phosphorus (P) is a macromineral that, like Calcium, is found in highest amounts in bone It is also required for energy production and the synthesis of many vital compounds such as DNA Because Phosphorus is present in high amounts in cereal grains, especially wheat bran, some horses receive too much Phosphorus and not enough Calcium then develop problems To avoid this, first make sure the horse’s diet meets at least the minimum recommended NRC levels of both Calcium and Phosphorus, then make sure the ratio between the two is somewhere in the 1:1 to 2:1 range
Potassium (K) is a macromineral commonly referred to as an electrolyte because it helps maintain the body’s acid/base balance and hydration status Since it is the main electrolyte involved in muscle contraction, the highest amounts of Potassium in the body are found in muscle tissue, including the heart Fortunately, most horses receive all the Potassium they need from their forage, and only need to be supplemented during hot weather or heavy exercise, to replace sweat losses The amount of Potassium in the diet of HYPP horses must be closely monitored Consult your veterinarian for feed and supplement recommendations.
Prebiotics are sources of non-digestible, soluble fiber that serve as food for the probiotics or “good” bugs in the large intestine, keeping them healthy. Examples of prebiotics are: arabinogalactan, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, mannanoligosaccharides (MOS), pectin and psyllium.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) fed to promote healthy digestive and immune function. When these “good” bugs break down food ingredients that the body normally can’t, they produce energy and vitamins for the body, food for cells in the cecum and colon, and byproducts that keep the “bad” bugs from growing. Research suggests probiotics are useful in repopulating the intestine with “good” bugs after antibiotic use and may benefit certain horses with diarrhea.
Psyllium is a plant whose seed husk is made of soluble fiber which is fed to horses for several reasons. First, it has been shown to increase fecal sand output and may aid in the prevention of colic, impaction, diarrhea and other problems associated with a build-up of sand in the colon. Second, it falls in the category of “prebiotic,” meaning it serves as a source of food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the colon.
Riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, is required for aerobic energy production in the body and other chemical processes Usually horses can meet the NRC dietary requirement of Riboflavin from a combination of fresh grass or alfalfa hay plus microbial production of the vitamin in the intestine However, stabled horses with little access to pasture or heavily exercised horses may require supplementation Because the family of B-vitamins works closely together within the cells of the body, if you supplement one you should supplement the others.
Rice Bran is the outer layer or husk of a grain of rice. It is rich in fat, protein and fiber, as well as Vitamin E, the B-vitamins, certain minerals, and the hormone-like substance Gamma Oryzanol. A tasty, convenient way to add calories to the diet of a horse that needs to gain weight, Rice Bran must be both stabilized to protect its fat content and fortified with Calcium to offset its naturally high Phosphorus levels.
Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) is a plant harvested from the ocean that is a natural source of many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and micronutrients. Dried, it is widely used in animal feed and supplements. Seaweed has many of the properties of kelp, including all the same health benefits.
Selenium is a trace mineral that partners with Vitamin E in the body’s antioxidant defense system to trap free radicals produced by exercise, illness and certain medical conditions. While some parts of the country have high levels of Selenium in their soil and therefore the plants that grow there, Selenium deficiency has been reported in 46 states. Therefore, most horses will need supplementation to meet the NRC requirement of 1 mg/day for maintenance. For optimum immune function and exercise recovery, 2 to 3 mg/day is recommended, which is still well below 50 mg/day which may be the upper safe limit. Selenium Yeast, the organic form of the mineral, is better absorbed than inorganic Selenium Selenate or Selenite.
Silica is the second-most plentiful element on earth, yet horses may not receive adequate levels from their diets because not all forms of silica are bioavailable and it is easily destroyed in processing Research over the last 30 years has shown that silica increases bone growth and density while decreasing bone loss and thinning, maintains the strength of connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments, has a positive effect on wound healing, is required in cartilage formation and improves the quality and appearance of skin, hair and hooves
Sodium is critical for normal nerve and muscle function, as well as transport of many substances (such as glucose) across cell membranes There is very little Sodium in forages and grains, so it must be supplied separately Because horses may not consume enough salt from a regular livestock block to meet their needs–especially in hot weather or during heavy exercise–it may need to be top-dressed on feed.
Sulfur (S) is a macromineral found in certain amino acids (methionine and cysteine), certain B-vitamins (thiamine and biotin), as well as heparin, insulin and chondroitin sulfate. Therefore Sulfur serves major structure and function roles in the body It is a component of proteins such as enzymes and of connective tissue such as hooves, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments Sulfur is also involved in carbohydrate metabolism, blood clotting and joint health Horses meet their Sulfur requirements from their diet and only one incidence of toxicity due to excess has ever been reported.
Taurine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in electrically active tissues such as the brain, heart, retina and muscle. It stabilizes membranes and assists in the movement of electrolytes in and out of cells, which is critical for proper nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Taurine also acts as a detoxifier, is necessary for the absorption of fats and vitamins, and influences proper insulin and glucose levels. It can be found in supplements for growing horses, nervous horses and horses with metabolic issues.
Threonine is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be provided in the diet since the body cannot create enough of its own. It may be the second limiting amino acid after Lysine. That is, if not present in adequate amounts it limits the body’s ability to make protein. Research shows improved muscle mass in older horses that may have trouble maintaining weight and in young, growing horses when Threonine is supplemented. In addition, it supports the production of mucin in the GI tract, a necessary component of the mucus that lubricates and protects the digestive tract.
Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is important in carbohydrate metabolism and in the transmission of impulses along nerves (for this reason it is often used in calming supplements) The NRC has set a daily dietary requirement for Thiamine because, unlike most of the other B-vitamins, microorganisms in the intestine do not make enough Thiamine to meet the horse’s needs Fortunately fresh forage and cereal grains are good sources of this vitamin However, horses that are exercising or do not have access to pasture or fortified grains may need additional supplementation.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is most known as the major ingredient in curry powder, but it is also believed to possess medicinal qualities. The main active substance curcumin has effects throughout the body, but primarily on the liver (relieves jaundice) and circulatory system (dissolves clots). Turmeric is often combined with other herbs to help them function better.
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is converted by the body into serotonin, melatonin and other hormones that transmit nerve signals in the brain. The effect of serotonin is to increase the feelings of well-being and contentment, to calm and to soothe.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that can be supplied by the diet or made from another amino acid, phenylalanine. It is the building block of many important brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Not only is Tyrosine important to proper function of the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands, its relationship with dopamine has led to its use in horses with anhidrosis (non-sweaters), Cushing’s Disease and narcolepsy.
Vitamin A is well-known for its role in maintaining healthy vision, especially night vision However, it is also needed for reproduction, immunity, and normal skeletal development in young growing horses and exercising horses that are remodeling bone Horses must satisfy their Vitamin A requirement from their diet, but only horses on fresh green pasture or high-quality alfalfa are likely to meet that requirement Horses on grass hay, horses with no access to pasture, or horses that are exercising or breeding probably need supplementation.
The Vitamin B family is made up of several compounds that serve many important roles in the body: protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism; energy production; proper nerve cell transmission; and cell reproduction and division (especially rapidly dividing ones such as red blood cells) B-vitamins include Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Folic Acid (B9), and Cyanocobalamin (B12) Choline, Biotin, Inositol and others are sometimes referred to as B-vitamins For most of the B-vitamins, microorganisms in the large intestine make all the horse needs Only Thiamine and Riboflavin have NRC dietary requirements However, research suggests B-vitamin supplementation may be beneficial to stabled horses with little access to fresh pasture, heavily exercising horses, pregnant and lactating mares, horses with GI conditions that may interfere with normal gut flora, and any periods of stress (injury, illness, shipping, old age, etc.)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid, Ester C) is an antioxidant that works with Vitamin A and Vitamin E to protect the tissues of the body, especially those of the respiratory system It is also important in the production of connective tissues like tendons and ligaments, skin and hooves, bones and teeth Under normal circumstances, horses make their own Vitamin C in the liver from glucose However, disease, transport, “heaves,” old age and endurance exercise have all been shown to decrease blood levels of Vitamin C, indicating horses undergoing these particular stresses may benefit from dietary supplementation.
Vitamin D (Calciferol) plays an indirect role in bone growth and maintenance by managing the levels of Calcium (Ca) in the body It controls the absorption of Ca from the intestine, the movement of Ca into and out of bone, and the amount of Ca excreted by the kidneys While a minimum requirement has been set by the NRC, it is assumed that horses make all the Vitamin D they need simply by exposure to sunlight, which converts precursors of Vitamin D in the skin to the active form of the vitamin However, horses kept indoors for prolonged periods, horses fed poor quality hay, very young foals or exercising horses that are remodeling bone may need supplementation.
Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is most recognized as an antioxidant that works closely with its partners Selenium and Vitamin C to protect the body from the oxidative stress of exercise, illness and certain medical conditions. Found in high amounts in fresh pasture, levels begin to decay the moment pasture is cut for hay. That is why any horse that does not have access to grass– regardless of its activity level or health–should receive Vitamin E supplementation. Although synthetic Vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol) is bioavailable to the horse, natural Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is better absorbed.
Vitamin K (Menadione) is necessary for the activation of proteins which play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism and vascular health The combination of Vitamin K from pasture or hay and that produced by bacteria in the large intestine is considered adequate for the normal healthy horse’s needs Horses that may need Vitamin K supplementation include those with anticoagulants (dicumarol, coumarin, warfarin) in their system, whether accidentally or as part of medical therapy, with chronic liver conditions, or with disturbances of the GI microorganisms such as colic, diarrhea or antibiotic treatment.
Yeast: (See Prebiotics and Probiotics)
Zinc (Zn) is a micromineral involved in over 100 enzyme systems ranging from connective tissue formation and antioxidant protection to carbohydrate metabolism and immune system function It is most recognized for its role in healthy skin and hooves and supplementation should be considered because amounts in normal feedstuffs may not meet requirements and toxicity has not been reported