Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unraveling the Supplement Mystery

Cal and Shelley Nyuli, and their horses.
I just returned from a weekend in the Pureform Equine Health booth at the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, CA.  I had always been suspect about supplements, never having experienced measurable positive effects. Being a businesswoman, I refuse to use something expensive that I couldn’t be certain was helping, so for many years I was supplement free. After being convinced by a trainer/friend I respect to try Pureform, I have been on the team for just about a year with fantastic results. After traveling for the weekend with Shelley Nyuli, owner of Pureform, my eyes were opened to a number of things that I never considered.  Mainly, all supplements are not created equal.  It then occurred to me that if with my experience and education I didn’t really understand supplements, it was likely many people are operating on myth. Shelley was kind enough to help unravel the mystery.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement: It is known that the equine needs certain vitamins and minerals to operate properly both physically and mentally, no different than a human. Similar to our human natural foods that are grown in nutritionally degraded soils, so too is our horse’s forage. There are many well informed hay farmers who produce a product that is naturally fertilized at optimum levels and have proper nutritional ratios; however, 70-80% of the growers do not fall into that category. 
The only way to know exactly what supplement is needed, is to have a protein and macro-mineral analysis done on the hay. This will cost between $20 and $40. In knowing a hay’s weakness, you can find a quality, full spectrum vitamin and trace mineral with the proper calcium/phosphorus ratio needed to support the forage.
Salt: No matter what discipline, even a pasture pony needs access to good ol’ iodized salt. If a horse doesn't go to the salt blocks then it is best to add 1-2 tablespoons of loose salt to the grain, pellet or mash ration. 

Joint Support: There has been a surge in the past 10 years to have horses on some joint supplement, whether they are an athlete, or an aging companion. Unlike the easily defined vitamin requirements, joint health is not quite as easily affected. Not all joint supplements are created equal.

In 2006 a study was published in the Equine Veterinary Journal entitled “Evaluation of Glucosamine Levels in Commercial Equine Oral Supplements for Joints.” In this study, 23 random joint supplement products containing glucosamine were purchased from various stores and internet sites. The result was that only 14 of the products labels matched the actual formula and only 2 of the 23 products recommended the accurate dosage of 10,000 mg of glucosamine needed to see a positive result in the reduction of pain due to osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine works synergistically with MSM 10,000 mg, vitamin C 3000 mg and magnesium 600 mg as they become an increased bioavailable team. These ingredients will be in 80% of the joint aid supplements on the market today.  A common myth is: A good joint supplement includes Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Glucosamine does not need Chondroitin to be effective as a joint supplement. Glucosamine’s biological pathway, once orally ingested and enters the bloodstream, will aid in the production of Chondroitin and is a precursor to Hyaluronic Acid production of synovial fluid within the joint cavity.

Flax:  Stable Milled Flax is a cost-effective, convenient and worry-free method of incorporating highly beneficial alpha-linolenic acid into a horse's diet.

Biotin: A common misunderstanding is: Biotin makes healthier hooves. Biotin alone does not make a healthy hoof. Biotin will encourage growth but not always thickness. Methionine and Lysine are key for producing a healthy hoof wall and sole.  

A good All-In-One Supplement, full spectrum vitamin with proteinate or ascorbate trace minerals and joint support, is the most cost effective way to address the needs of most horses. There are many All-In-One Supplements that are also formulated for everything from the performance horse to miniature horses.

Remember: If a supplement doesn't give you the result you desire within 7-30 days, it may not be the one you should continue with either because of the product, or because it needs to be fed in a different dosage to be effective. Contact the manufacturer for further discussion on what changes you would like to see in your horse that you are not seeing.

Bio: Pureform Equine Health is a western based manufacturer dedicated to setting new standards in the development of safe, alternative nutraceuticals since 1998. Their products are producing results by offering fundamental nutritional supplements along with advanced pharmaceutical grade nutraceuticals.  Learn more about Pureform at

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