Antioxidants – the benefits for equines

MAY 16 Horse Nutrition BR Farm
NEW PRODUCT: A horse on the treadmill at a Kentucky Equine Research facility, where they have recently developed a new antioxidant product after completing some interesting research. (FW20-500NN)

INCREASED oxygen intake drives metabolic processes and helps cells to produce energy to help power your horse during exercise. However, some of these oxygen molecules can be damaging to your horse, hence why antioxidants are commonly found in performance supplements to combat these negative effects.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are oxygen molecules known as reactive oxygen species and can cause damage to cells; they are unstable ions that bounce around the cell membrane trying to accept electrons. As they bounce around, they react and damage DNA strands, proteins and fats in the cell membrane. During exercise, oxidative stress can occur, this is when there is an imbalance between the number of free radicals and antioxidants available to combat them, resulting in fatigue and compromised performance ability. A combination of exercise duration and intensity, as well as diet can result in oxidative stress occurring.

Natural Defence

Cells have a natural defence against these free radicals to help protect them from damage, called natural antioxidants. These can be found within the diet and include Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene), Vitamin C, Vitamin E or Selenium. Spices, such as turmeric, ginger and garlic are also well known for their natural antioxidant properties and are often found in supplements.

– Vitamin E – An abundant source of natural Vitamin E is found in fresh grass, however those horses on restricted grass and spending more time stabled may require extra supplementation. An important nutrient impacting fertility, immunity and as an antioxidant, Vitamin E is often added to commercial horse feed, commonly in synthetic forms. However, recent studies have shown that natural Vitamin E can be six times more bioavailable than synthetic forms. Natural Vitamin E is used within all the Bluegrass Horse Feed products, including the performance range.

– Selenium – Works together with Vitamin E and protects the muscle tissue. Vitamin E reduces the formation of peroxides in the cell membrane and selenium removes the peroxides.

– Vitamin C – Not considered a common antioxidant, it is created in the liver, so there is not a high requirement for additional supplementation.

– Vitamin A – Similar to Vitamin E, a high source of Vitamin A is found in grass, however there can be up to 50% decrease in Vitamin A content when grass is cut and stored (hay or haylage).

New Research from Kentucky Equine Research

The research and nutritionist team at Kentucky Equine Research has recently developed a new antioxidant product after completing some interesting research.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays a key role in the mitochondrial function and is essential for the production of energy. It is also a very powerful antioxidant, which is capable of regenerating other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and E.

Dr Joe Pagan, founder and president of Kentucky Equine Research states: “Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring substance that can be used to enhance both aerobic metabolism and antioxidant activity.”

Issues were arising in Thoroughbred horses associated with high levels of a specific enzyme in the blood called GGT. Preliminary research conducted at the Florida research centre by Kentucky Equine Research suggested that horses with higher serum levels of CoQ10 had lower levels of GGT.

Therefore, supplementation of CoQ10 was found to have beneficial effects, the development of Nano Q10 supplement by Kentucky Equine Research has been seen to have great results for performance horses.

For more information on antioxidants or the Bluegrass Horse Feed product range, contact the dedicated nutritional team at


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