Yes, we know that getting enough omega-3 is essential for optimal cell functioning. But how does omega-3 impact specific equine health issues, like arthritis pain and stiffness, respiratory issues, laminitis and more? We delve into the research:
Many clinical studies show incorporation of EPA and DHA into the joint cartilage cell membrane (called chondrocytes) by dietary supplementation results in a dose-dependent reduction in the activity of cartilage damaging enzymes as well as a decreased expression of inflammatory mediators. Other researchers have investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acid intake on NSAIDs (non-steroids anti-inflammatory drugs) requirements in horses with arthritis.
Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
As a conscientious horse owner you would never intentionally set your horse up for ulcers but today's diet, training schedules and eating behavior have been shown to increase your horse's susceptibility to Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS).
Of all the hoof problems a horse can suffer from, laminitis is the most worrisome. The passive vascular congestion seen during laminitis in horses is thought to be mediated by chemicals produced from the cell membrane in response to either metabolic or physical irritation. This painful condition causes the separation of the sensitive lamellae serving as a bridge between the pedal bone to the inner hoof wall.
It is a well established fact the nutrition status of your horse influences the immune response, allergic reactions and infectious diseases. The fatty acids balance between omega-3 and omega-6 plays a major role in regulating the inflammatory response. Mischief-making mediators released from omega-6 derivates stimulate the mucus secretion and cause smooth muscle to contract. This leads to narrowing of the airways.
Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH)
A study from the University of Kentucky showed that horses supplemented with fish oil had a lower heart rate during exercise, which may be significant in correcting the EIPH pathogenesis. Another study from the University of Texas showed that horses supplemented with omega-3 had lower cortisol levels under exercise, making the horses less stressed and maybe also having lower blood pressure.