Equine Health: Understanding Essential Nutrients
Landmark hosted an equine education meeting in early April and Landmark was fortunate to have great speakers and topics. In this second edition of the equine meeting recap, Amino Acids and Omega Amino Acids are covered by Dr. Amy Gill of Kalambach Feeds- Tribute Equine. (Part 2 of 3)
What are Amino Acids? Amino acids are building blocks from which proteins are constructed. When they are put together in a short chain they form a peptide. A peptide is proteins used by the horse. There are ten essential amino acids – essential meaning the body doesn’t create its own and requires supplement from the diet. Horses have an essential amino acid requirement: Lysine, Threonine and Methionine. All amino acids must be available at the same time in order to form the needed proteins.
- Protein quality – refers to how well the protein matches the needs of the horse.
- Higher digestibility – higher absorption of amino acids to help form needed proteins.
*Soybean meal has the most complimentary amino acid profile to the needs of the horse.
Protein Deficiency can:
- Decrease growth despite adequate energy
- Lead to weight loss in older horses
- Fetal loss in pregnant mares
- Decrease milk production
- Loss of muscle in exercising horses
Indicators of Deficiency:
- Reduced feed intake
- Poor hair growth
- Developmental disorders
Proteins are however NOT an energy source. Excess protein in the diet increases urination due to increased water consumption to rid the body of urea (aka that strong ammonia odor you smell from time to time). High ammonia concentrations can cause respiratory problems.
Omega Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 can be converted by the horse’s body into a usable form that can be more readily absorbed.
- Reduce inflammation in the body by helping the body to produce compounds called prostaglandins.
- Help create a more permeable cell membrane – brings healthy nutrients in – sends waste products out.
Omega 6 are oils such as corn, canola, soybean and rice– not all oils are created equal!
- Make pro inflammatory mediators for the immune system.
- Doesn’t cause inflammation, rather they provide the substrate needed to mount an inflammatory response if and when needed. Inflammation is an important process, the body uses it to fight infection and mediate tissue repair.
Roles of Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids:
- Immune system regulation
- Cell membrane stability
- Development and maintenance of central nervous system
- Modulate inflammation
- Hormone regulation
Feeding Omega 3 & 6 have shown to help:
- Improve skin and coat quality
- Decrease joint pain in arthritic individuals
- Improve bone formation
- Reproductive benefits
- Prevention of gastric ulcers
- Alleviate allergic hyperactivity
- Supports horses in heavy work
- Reduces exercise induced bronchial constriction
- Accelerate recovery from exercise
- Increase affinity of oxygen to the red blood cells
Next month we will look at the dental health of horses with Dr. Travis Henry.