Your Guide to Equine Health Care

DHA Level Effect on Inflammation in Exercising Horses

Researchers evaluated how different doses of this omega-3 fatty acid affect exercise-induced inflammation.

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DHA Level Effect on Inflammation in Exercising Horses
Supplementing exercising horses’ diets with 20 or 50 grams of DHA does not alter exercise-induced inflammatory markers, Hess’s team concluded. | Photo: iStock

Some degree of exercise-induced inflammation is necessary during training for tissue repair and to help horses adapt to exercise. Too much, however, can cause inflammatory-related muscle damage and hinder performance ability.

Previous study results have shown that dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), might reduce inflammation in conjunction with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); however, the ideal dose in the diet has yet to be determined. In a recent study, Tanja Hess, DVM, PhD, and colleagues from Colorado State University aimed find out the ideal dose of DHA to reduce inflammation in exercising horses.

Hess and her team tested three doses of a DHA supplement on post-exercise inflammatory responses in 20 trained and conditioned polo ponies. They first assessed body condition score and body weight, then sorted each horse into one of four groups that

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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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