Which Omega-3 Sources are Best for My Horse?

Vegetable- and marine-based sources can provide your horse with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Here are some things to consider when choosing an omega-3 supplement for your horse.
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Which Omega-3 Source is Best for My Horse?
Chia seeds have one of the highest omega-3 fatty acid levels, containing 63% omega-3 as a percentage of total fat. | Photo: iStock

They might not be magical cure-alls, but with benefits such as reducing inflammation and skin reactivity to allergens, omega-3 fatty acids could be considered go-to supplements for horse owners wishing to improve their horses’ health and performance.

Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which help provide structure to cell membranes in tissues across the body. Once incorporated into cell membranes, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids can elicit a slew of metabolic effects in tissues, such as helping regulate cell signaling. Omega-3s can also be cleaved from the cell membrane to produce eicosanoids, a type of immune system messenger used to inhibit inflammation.

With horses, specifically, added PUFAs have many benefits, such as improving exercise parameters, lowering heart rate, increasing sperm production in breeding stallions, improving immune response, and potentially improving insulin sensitivity, or the body’s responsiveness to the hormone insulin signaling the removal of glucose from the blood after a meal

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Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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