Looking for a supplement to feed your horse that can tackle numerous problems at the same time? Maybe you should consider flax seed! It packs quite a nutritional punch for very little money, making it one of the most cost effective feed supplements on the market. Flax seed is best known for delivering high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which make up the molecular structure and activity of the membranes of all cells throughout the body. What you might not know about flax is the numerous benefits it comes with these omega-3s. Let’s look at a few of them.
Flax seeds supply an omega-3 fatty acid to the body called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the horse's body converts to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Scientific research points to ALA helping to significantly reduce the risk of strokes. Research is also showing that ALA can protect the heart against arrhythmia.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation in the tissues of horses. Many things can cause inflammation in a horse’s body: too much strenuous work, illness or fast growth in young horses. Typically inflammation is most commonly seen in horses undergoing strenuous training and exercise on a regular basis. This kind of physically demanding work will most often result in some level of inflammation, particularly in the legs. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flax can fight this by helping the body to produce compounds called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins play a key role in the generation of the inflammatory response and are responsible for functions such as decreasing inflammation, constricting or dilating blood vessels, transporting oxygen from red blood cells to tissues, maintaining the fluidity of cellular membranes, and pain reduction.
Of course, the most visible added benefit from flax seed is a shiny, healthy coat. This is because the fatty acids in the seed combat skin problems which can lead to a dull coat. Issues such as dry skin, sweet itch, and other allergy conditions in the skin will diminish or even go away completely when feeding flax seed as a part of your horse’s daily feed regimen.
There has been lots of controversy over whether flax seed should be fed ground or whole. There are benefits to both ways but neither one is the right and only way. If you decide to feed it whole, don’t be fooled by the sight of a few seeds in your horse’s manure. The majority of the whole seeds are used completely in the digestive tract and research done with various kinds of seeds in horse diets have shown that the nutrients is still extracted from the seed hulls even if some seeds appear whole in the manure.
In conclusion, using flax seed to increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your horse’s diet has many benefits your horse will receive no matter what his age or purpose. Remember, when it comes to changing your horse’s diet, always do your own research and consult your veterinarian. Every horse is different and what’s good for one might not be good for another.
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