Step 2 of the Uckele horse feeding pyramid is to add basic vitamins and minerals to correct deficiencies and balance the diet. This sounds like common sense but it is also very important to understand why there needs to be a solid base of nutrition before looking to other supplements.
If a person has uncontrolled AIDS, they can easily die of an infection even if the infecting organism is susceptible to an available antibiotic. This is because even powerful drugs cannot adequately fight an infection if the immune system is not functioning correctly.
There are many plant and fruit extracts that have significant antioxidant capacity. They can have powerful effects and are very useful in a variety of conditions but like antibiotics in an AIDS patient they also require that the body is functioning properly.
For example, reserveratrol’s antioxidant effects depend heavily on its ability to stimulate the production of SOD. SOD is superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. This is an enzyme that neutralizes the very active and destructive oxygen free radical called superoxide.
Superoxide dismutase is a widely distributed enzyme manufactured by the body. Resveratrol stimulates genes that control production of SOD. It is found both inside and outside the mitochondria cells as well as in the extra-cellular fluids surrounding cells.
The activity of this enzyme depends on it having an active trace mineral core. The SOD found inside mitochondria requires manganese. The other forms of SOD need zinc or copper. These are two of the most common deficiencies in equine diets.
Resveratrol can also stimulate the production of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the horse’s body. The synthesis of glutathione depends on the availability of the amino acid L-cysteine, which is itself produced from methionine. If the diet does not have adequate methionine to meet high demands, glutathione production will suffer. Selenium is required by enzymes that maintain glutathione in an active form. Selenium is a very common deficiency.
The horse’s body is equipped with a wider array of internal protective mechanisms. Keeping these properly fueled so they can function can only be accomplished through a sound basic diet. Knowing what nutrients do to keep the horse healthy from the inside will make you determined to get it right!
Eleanor M. Kellon, V.M.D.