Key trace minerals for horses

Sep 28, 2020


Written by Dr. Dana Tomlinson with Zinpro Corporation
 
As horses encounter greater physical activity and their workload and energy demands increase, their need for key trace minerals increases. Zinc, manganese, copper, and selenium are the primary minerals needed for production of strong muscles with high cellular integrity.
 
Here are the roles of a few key trace minerals:
 
  • Zinc is especially important as it plays a role with calcium enzymes in muscle contraction and nervous function. But more importantly, zinc is a key component in over 3,000 proteins and 300 enzyme systems in the body. So, zinc is foundational to many basic cellular functions involved in muscle production and function, immune response, and especially in the recovery process. 
  • Manganese is important for the formation, maintenance and repair of joints, while copper is key to the formation of connective tissue (tendons and ligaments), bones, and cartilage lining joints.
  • Selenium and vitamin E play important roles as antioxidants, helping animals keep free radicals from oxidative stress in check. Oxidative stress is caused by overworking muscles and not allowing sufficient time for repair and recovery.
  • Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are major players in maintaining muscle and nervous tissue communication and function.
  • Fats are a key energy source in horses. Fats provide a slower, more energy-dense burn for greater endurance or sustained activity.
  • Protein is needed to build and rebuild damaged muscle or hoof tissue. When considering protein needs in a horse nutrition plan, it’s important to provide an adequate supply of essential amino acids. Most equine nutritionists will first focus on the balance of lysine, methionine, and threonine, as these amino acids are often the most limited in the equine diet. Just note you’ll want to avoid over-feeding protein, as an excess can reduce muscle glycogen (energy) supplies and increase diet cost.
 
Overall, trace minerals help slow muscle damage and enhance the recovery process. While required in small amounts, equine trace minerals are involved in many enzyme systems key to muscle repair and reduction of oxidative stress.
 
Have questions about trace minerals or anything equine related stop by your local Co-op today!

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