By Kim Hallin
Stance Equine USA is pleased to announce the availability of a new product called Medicine Bag Complete (MBC) through our web store. MBC is a unique mineral and vitamin supplement that also includes probiotics for optimal gut health. For the month of February only, we are offering a $10 discount on all orders of MBC!
The Importance of Minerals
Equines require a number of minerals to meet the body’s functional needs, including skeletal integrity and cellular communication. There are 14 minerals that are considered essential for horses, and these can be classified as one of two categories: macrominerals and microminerals, or trace minerals. Macrominerals are required in relatively large quantities in the diet and include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chlorine (as chloride), and sulfur. Trace minerals, which are required in much smaller quantities, include iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, cobalt, and selenium.
As explained in a 2014 article published by The Horse:
Without minerals, horses could not metabolize fats, proteins, or carbohydrates; their muscles and nerves would not function normally; and their bones could not support their own weight. Minerals help the blood transport oxygen throughout the body, maintain the body’s acid/base and fluid balances, and are necessary components of virtually every enzyme the horse needs for everyday metabolism. They are integral parts of some vitamins, hormones, and amino acids. Yet they make up only about 4% of the horse’s total body weight (as compared to 30% to 35% fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and about 60% water). In the case of minerals, a little bit means a lot.
Why Is Supplementation Necessary?
When you feed Cool Stance, it is important to remember that copra meal is not a “complete balanced feed”. In other words, while copra meal naturally contains many of the enzymes and minerals horses need, it does not provide them all in the proper and balanced amounts.
You should also understand that even when feeding a “complete feed”, horses often are still not getting (or absorbing) all the nutrients they need in the proper amounts. This is because many natural minerals and enzymes get destroyed during the cooking and pelleting process. Manufacturers must then supplement with synthetic and chemical minerals or vitamins to replace those that were destroyed. Unfortunately, many of these un-natural ingredients are typically absorbed at very low rates. On top of that, if you are not feeding the recommended amount of a “complete feed” product, your horse will still not get the proper amount of nutrients, regardless of bioavailability.
Furthermore, according to The Health Moderator, U.S. agricultural soil has been depleted of 85 percent of its minerals and vitamins during the last 100 years. This means many of the plants, grasses and hays our horses eat are likely mineral-depleted.
The Importance of Getting it Right
There is an optimal range (sometimes wider, sometimes more narrow) for each vitamin and mineral required by the horse’s body. The toxicity that can result from stepping past the upper limit of that range is often no less dangerous to a horse’s health than the deficiency caused by failing to meet the lower threshold. Therefore, it is always recommended to consult a veterinarian or equine nutritionist before supplementing with any vitamin or mineral. Alternatively, you can use a program likeFeedXL to input the details of your horse’s diet and run a report that will highlight any potentially dangerous deficiencies or excesses.
The balance of certain minerals whose specific ratio to one other is required to optimize the horse’s health and well-being is also critical. Calcium and phosphorus are the most widely recognized of these pairs, but sodium and chloride must also be fed in the proper ratios.
Symptoms of Deficiencies
Calcium deficiency (which can be caused by excess phosphorus in the diet) can result in abnormal bone development in young horses, osteomalacia or osteoporosis in older horses, hyperparathyroidism (“big head disease”), loose teeth, and weight loss. These same symptoms may also be caused by phosphorus deficiency.
An insufficient quantity of magnesium in the body is believed to be a possible causal factor in excitability and muscle tremors or cramping. It may also play a role in insulin resistance and equine metabolic syndrome.
Potassium deficiency can result in muscle cramps and/or weakness, fatigue, impaired ability to sweat, and decreased response to thirst.
Copper deficiency in horses is rare, but has been implicated in developmental orthopedic disease in young horses as well as arterial ruptures and chronic anemia. Loss of pigment in the hair coat may also be a sign of a deficiency.
Inadequate amounts of iodine in a horse’s body may result in a goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland) on the underside of the throat along the jaw. Other signs of an iodine imbalance include poor coat and hair loss, lethargy, low body temperature, and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. Iodine-deficient mares also tend to give birth to stillborn or weak foals.
Mild selenium deficiencies can present with subtle signs such as poor coat quality, work intolerance, and reduced immune function. Gross deficiency can result in cardiovascular problems, muscle disorders such as “typing up,” cataracts, and impaired reproductive function.
Zinc deficiency can cause low insulin levels and reduced glucose tolerance leading to increased insulin resistance. Inadequate levels of zinc might also result in poor coat and hoof quality, reduced immune function, and increased likelihood of developmental orthopedic disease in foals.
Additional disorders that can result from nutritional deficiencies include night blindness, tearing of the eyes, bone and muscle growth defects, reproductive problems, thin or shelly hooves, defective calcification of the bones (rickets or osteomalacia), muscle wastage and malformation, and increased susceptibility to disease and infection.
To read more about Medicine Bag Complete, including feeding instructions for healthy and compromised horses, please go to Medicine Bag Complete.