Supplements What about Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

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1 PRO University Module 3 Lesson 2 Supplements What about Omega 3 Fatty Acids? Q&A with Dr. Bill Vandergrift

2 Essential Fatty Acids Horses have two dietary essential fatty acids, meaning they have to be in the horses diet and they are required for normal health of the horse. Omega-6 (linoleic acid) Omega-3 (linolenic acid) can be converted by the body into EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) although this process is not entirely efficient.

3 What are the Top Three Benefits of Omega-3 s For Performance Horses? When omega-3 fatty acids are included in the diet of a performance horse, they help that horse maintain normal immune function and inflammatory reactions, even during periods of increased exposure to stress. These functions in turn allow that horse to: Exhibit increased disease resistance Maintain normal joint health and flexibility Increase Stamina

4 What are the best sources of omega-3 s for horses? In the horse s natural environment fresh green pasture grass is the normal source of omega-3 fatty acids. Horses without access to fresh pasture grass will need alternative dietary sources to obtain omega-3 fatty acids.

5 Best Plant Sources of omega-3 fatty acids Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds Excellent sources of the dietary essential fatty acid, linolenic acid Fish oil and algae are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but it should be kept in mind that they supply non-dietary essential fatty acids EPA and/or DHA

6 Fish or Flax? Which is better? Supplying EPA and DHA from fish oil has proven to be beneficial to performance horses due to their inability to reduce inflammatory reactions during exercise. Under normal circumstances the horse would be able to convert linolenic acid in to EPA and DHA, but a small increase in stress renders this conversion ineffective. Therefore..The most effective omega-3 supplementation protocol for performance horses is to supply linolenic acid from either flax or chia seeds and ALSO supply EPA and DHA from fish oil.

7 What properties make a good omega- 3 supplement? Palatable Easy to Feed A reasonable shelf life under horse barn conditions Also the supplement must provide the dietary essential omega-3 fatty acid, linolenic acid, as well as functional omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA

8 The challenge with many fish oil supplements.. 1. They do not provide a source of linolenic acid 2. They tend to be low on the palatablity score 3. They can be difficult to feed or dose The problem with feeding JUST flax or chia is that they do not provide a source of the functional omega-3 fatty acids which limits their effectiveness

9 What is the target ratio for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids? Research with various animal species, including humans and horses indicates that An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio less than 10:1 will provide effective utilization of omega-3 fatty acids. Currently there is NO demonstrable difference in an omega- 6 and omega-3 ratio of 1:1 compared to 9:1 Omega-6 to omega-3 ratios greater than 20:1 DO reduce omega-3 utilization significantly There is NO bulls-eye ratio that would make a supplement superior to another, as long as both products have a ratio less than 10:1.

10 Omega-3s in Hay? Curing grass to make hay takes away some beneficial nutrients. Two of the most important nutrients found in ample quantities in fresh pasture, but not in hay, include vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Horses with limited access to pasture grass should receive omega-3 fatty acids in their diet from their grain ration or from additional supplementation.

11 Which product is better for performance? Product A: Omega-3 minimum = 19.0% Omega-6 minimum = 10.0% Guarantees EPA and DHA Product B: Omega-3 minimum = 18.75% Omega-6 minimum = 6.0% No guarantee for EPA and DHA Product A is superior for a performance horse because of the inclusion of guaranteed levels of EPA and DHA. Research has demonstrated that horses under stress are very poor converters of linolenic acid to EPA and therefore benefit from EPA supplementation. In addition, research has also shown that the inclusion of EPA in the diets of performance horses can reduce joint inflammation and increase stamina an effect not achieved from omega-3 supplementation without EPA and DHA inclusion.

12 RESOURCES Thank you to Dr. Bill Vandergrift of EquiVision, Inc.

13 CONGRATULATIONS! YOU VE COMPLETED PRO UNIVERSITY MODULE 3

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