Additional information: minerals
Minerals are of essential importance for the health of the horse.
They play an important role in all physical functions such as growth, maintenance of general health, recovery and good condition of tissues and bones.
The body does not produce minerals and they will only be provided through food and nutritional supplements. With reference to the body's quantitative needs for minerals and the quantity present in the diet, we can distinguish: macro-minerals and trace elements. The average concentration of trace elements, both in food and in the body, is lower than that of macro-minerals. We speak in milligrams for trace elements and in grams for macro-minerals. The need for trace elements increases with stress.
Macro-minerals generally contribute to the structure and construction of body tissues, while trace elements contribute to good metabolism and proper functioning of enzymes.
Each mineral has its own role. When a particular mineral is lacking, symptoms of disease can potentially result. By filling this gap, the symptoms disappear. A continued lack of certain minerals can permanently damage the body.
For example, in young animals this damage can result in deformities of the limbs (lack of calcium/phosphorus) or deterioration of the heart muscle (lack of magnesium).
Alongside deficiencies due to insufficient intake, minerals can also be lacking due to excess intake. For example, too much calcium disrupts the use of phosphorus and too much potassium disrupts the use of magnesium.
It is not difficult to analyze the composition of the grass that the horse grazes or that from which hay is made. Depending on the quality of the soil, grass treated with nitrogen fertilizers will see its sodium, calcium and magnesium levels decrease, but its potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and copper levels increase.
A horse that presents vague symptoms such as a lack of appetite, poor physical condition, fatigue, a dull coat, less resistance, in short, when it does not feel good about itself, this horse can suffer from a lack of one or more minerals.
The minerals are: calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, chlorine and sulfur.
Trace elements are: iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iodine, chromium and cobalt.
Important for bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, heart function, muscle contraction, cell membrane integrity, thermoregulation, transmission of nerve impulses; cofactor of many enzymes.
Deficiency causes rickets (in young animals), osteoporosis (in old animals) and muscle cramps.
For good calcium absorption, vitamin D and magnesium are very important.
Constituent part of bones and teeth, important for acid-base balance, cofactor of several hormones and B vitamins. It has a function in the transport of fats, cell division and in energy regulation.
A deficiency causes rickets (for young animals), limb deformities and reduced forage absorption.
The optimal calcium/phosphorus balance is 1.6:1. Above all, remember that cereals contain a lot of phosphorus and little calcium, resulting in a poor balance.
Important for the formation of bones and teeth, for the transmission of nerve impulses, for energy metabolism, for the synthesis of hormones and DNA, for the stimulation of enzymes, contraction of muscles; cofactor for vitamins B and C.
A deficiency causes nervousness, cramps and excessive sweating.
Good grass contains sufficient calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Nursing mares provide a lot of magnesium through milk, so watch for deficiencies.
Important for acid-base balance, for hydro-electrolyte regulation, for muscle contraction, for heart rate and for the nervous system.
Important for acid-base balance, distribution of hormones, for cellular metabolism, neutrophils and for the elimination of carbon dioxide.
A lack of sodium, potassium and chlorine leads to poor forage absorption, reduced physical strength, weight loss, pica and flabby skin.
Essential for sulfur-containing proteins, such as biotin, heparin, thiamine and insulin.
Important for protein metabolism, for the functioning of hemoglobin, myoglobin and for energy production.
A deficiency causes anemia.
Antioxidant; important for the formation of hemoglobin (activates iron), for the formation of connective tissues, for the work of the central nervous system and for protein metabolism.
A deficiency causes anemia and a change in hair color.
Important for the immune system, DNA synthesis, the formation of several hormones like insulin, for metabolism, for energy production and wound healing; antioxidant.
A deficiency causes stunted growth, fatigue, poor appetite and hoof problems.
Important for muscle metabolism (interaction with vitamin E); antioxidant.
A deficiency leads to muscle weakness, difficult movements, and breathing and heart difficulties.
Essential for the functioning of the thyroid glands, carbohydrate metabolism and the maintenance of healthy skin and hair.
A lack causes difficult moulting, stunted growth and weak foals.
Antioxidant; has a function in the formation of bones, cartilage, fatty acids, hormones and energy production.
A defect causes damage to the cartilage and deformities of the limbs.
Is necessary for the formation of vitamin B12, a lack explains reduced performance.
Important for the immune system and for energy production by regulating blood glucose levels.