A horse’s prolonged sweating during athletic activity or travel means a need for fluid and electrolyte replacement, and horse owners commonly turn to electrolyte products for this purpose. A team of equine researchers examined one electrolyte supplement’s (ES) effect on fluid replacement and performance, and Michael Lindinger, PhD, associate professor at the University of Guelph, presented the results at the 2011 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 18-22 in San Antonio, Texas,

Dehydration significantly impacts the cardiovascular system, exercise performance, and recovery, as well as affecting thermoregulation (the horse’s ability to cool its body during exercise). Dehydration also affects mental acuity. Thus, effectively replacing fluids lost through sweating is of utmost importance in maintaining peak levels of health and performance. Lindinger pointed out that horse sweat contains significant concentrations of ions, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium and these are sustained during exercise.

Keeping this information in mind, he and colleagues tested an oral electrolyte supplement specifically designed with proportions of electrolyte content to replace ion and fluid losses in sweat ("Most supplements have seemingly random proportions of electrolytes; when this one was developed it was the first to have ‘appropriate’ proportions," Lindinger noted). Electrolytes marked with radioactive labels were administered through a nasogastric tube. In the first phase of the study, Lindinger examined how quickly electrolyte-supplemented resting horses cleared the supplement from the stomach (gastric emptying rate) by measuring disappearance of radioactivity from the abdominal regions using a gamma camera. Radioactivity from the electrolytes gradually diminished such that by the end of two hours, 82% of ES had emptied from the stomach.

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