In August, Wellpride was thrilled to be a sponsor of the Certified Horsemanship Association’s Radio Show on the Horse Radio Network’s “Horses in the Morning.” Wellpride’s co-founder, Anne-Marie Chalmers, MD, was interviewed by CHA’s CEO Christy Landwehr and by Horse Radio Network founder Glenn the Geek. Dr. Chalmers discussed the benefits of supplementing horses with omega-3s using Wellpride fish oil.
The segment aired live on Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Those who want to listen to the recorded interview with Dr. Chalmers can check it out here (segment with Dr. Chalmers starts at 14:52):
You can also read a summary of the interview below:
Meet the Doctor
Dr. Chalmers graduated from Brown University and completed her medical training at the University of Oslo in Norway. In Norway, Dr. Chalmers practiced Emergency Family and Preventative Medicine before turning her attention to working with omega-3. Together with her husband and fellow omega-3 expert, Bo Martinsen, MD, Dr. Chalmers co-founded Wellpride in 2003. In 2006, the doctors added on Omega3 Innovations, which features a product line of fresh omega-3 fish oil for people.
How Did Wellpride Get Started?
Wellpride got its start when Drs. Chalmers and Martinsen teamed up with a group of equine veterinary specialists who helped them conduct pilot studies using racehorses and performance horses. During Wellpride’s research, they found very low levels of beneficial omega-3s along with an abundance of inflammatory omega-6s dominating the fatty acid profiles of the horses they tested. After they supplemented with fish oil, the team measured the effects on the horses by performing endoscopic examinations of the lungs and the GI tract, radiographing joints, measuring blood absorption rates, studying sperm counts, and analyzing hooves.
They then determined that fish oil would be an effective and cost efficient way of balancing a horse’s immune system and helping inflammatory reactions in performance horses.
Why Do Horses Need Omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids make up the cell membrane for horses, humans, cats, dogs, birds, and other organisms. Without a well-functioning fluid cell membrane, there will be a poor exchange of nutrients across the cell membrane, chronic inflammation, and poor signaling between cells. If the brain is lacking in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), this can cause the synapses in the brain to fire improperly, resulting in moodiness, unmanageability, and lack of focus.
Because omega-3s are crucial for every cell in the body, supplementing horses with omega-3s can make a difference for a variety of issues. Omega-3s can help horses with skin problems, such as summer itch. In addition, research clearly indicates that joints hold up much better if you provide a source of omega-3s with EPA and DHA. Many vets now recommend fish oil to wean horses off of bute due to its pain relieving effects.
In regards to stallion fertility, omega-3s have been found to increase sperm motility (not surprising, considering that the sperm is made of 60% DHA fatty acids). Meanwhile, mares produce better focused and coordinated offspring when supplemented with omega-3s.
Omega-3s may also help prevent ulcers and colic.
Common Misconceptions Horse People Have about Omega-3s
Many people believe omega-3s are all one molecule. In actuality, there are different types of omega-3s, and each type has its own job within the body. EPA puts a damper on inflammation, and DHA is important for signaling in the brain.
The omega-3s from flax sources only have alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which must be converted to EPA and DHA to be useful. If there are too many omega-6s in the diet, the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA gets blocked.
Dr. Chalmers used an analogy of a football game between a team of 20 omega-6 players versus a team of two omega-3 players fighting for the “ball,” which is the enzyme that makes the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA. Of course, the bigger football team of omega-6s win in this scenario. However, when you use fish oil, you get ready-made EPA and DHA, and the conversion becomes less of a fight. She added that you have to use one to two cups of flaxseed versus one teaspoon of fish oil to get the same amount of omega-3s.
Many horse owners question feeding fish oil to horses since they are herbivores. However, Dr. Chalmers said we give horses a lot of things that are not part of their regular diet: corn oil, glucosamine coming from shrimp and antibiotics, to name just a few items.
Normally fresh pasture, depending on the type of grass, will meet a horse’s needs for omega-3s. However, in performance horses, broodmares, or for horses with an inflammatory condition (arthritis, ulcers, etc.), additional omega-3s can be beneficial.
“By feeding a high-quality fish oil, you can provide good energy without needing to drastically increase the feed volume,” said Chalmers. “It’s just going to be much more effective in terms of putting a damper on inflammation and giving good-quality energy to the horse.”
Why It’s Important to Pay Attention to Quality
Many horse owners are not aware that fish oil (as well as flaxseed oils) can go rancid fairly easily. When it does, it breaks down into toxic byproducts that people should not put in their body or feed to their horses. Many human fish oil products that are in capsule form may be rancid, and the best way to tell is to cut the capsule open.
“Not only will it smell bad, it will be bad for you,” says Chalmers. “You really need to open up your capsule and taste and smell what you are putting in your body.
Wellpride, and Omega3 Innovations, provides the freshest fish oil to its customers. To prevent spoiling, Wellpride comes in a specially designed 30-ounce bottle that allows owners to measure the right dose while preventing air from getting into the bottle. This helps owners to keep their Wellpride fresh for 6 – 8 weeks from the date they open it. Other fish oil products on the market may use a pump that the owner uses to get the oil out. However, a pump will just pump oxygen right into the fish oil and cause it to quickly become rancid.
Dr. Chalmers ended the show by saying, “By using the Wellpride omega-3 fish oil, it’s a little bit like exercise…when you do it consistently every day at the right dose, you’re going to see results.”