There is always an improvement in coat quality when horses were supplemented with biotin.
Researchers have discovered that nutrients such as the B vitamin biotin benefit human hair and skin. In horses, studies on biotin have only been performed with regard to the hoof, says Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research, in Versailles, Kentucky.
“One of those studies, however, anecdotally mentioned an improvement in coat quality when horses were supplemented with biotin,” she says.
The “tried and true” coat supplement over the centuries has been flax (linseed), says Crandell. The oil in flaxseed contains plenty of the “good” omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), as well as the more inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, but in a lesser quantity. The body can convert ALA into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are found in fish oil—hence, why many owners use this as a supplement for their horses’ skin and coat.
“Although there are no published research studies in horses on the impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on skin and coat quality, fish oil has been found to be particularly helpful for the treatment of skin conditions,” says Crandell. “Practically speaking, few owners and trainers would (say) that a horse’s coat does not improve with fat supplementation, be it corn oil, fish oil, flaxseed, or other ingredients with relatively high amounts of fat, such as full-fat soy that, according to studies involving subjective outcomes, improves coat quality. In the case of full-fat soy, it is probably the fat for the skin and the methionine for the hair in the soy that elicits the beneficial effects.”
Crandell cautions owners to add fat/oil to equine diets slowly and to not exceed 1 g per kilogram of body weight or the level that has a negative impact on the horse’s feed consumption.
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