Copper Chromium & Selenium
Trace elements are essential for normal body function. They are involved in the enzyme systems that control the many biochemical reactions that take place within the cells.
Three trace elements that are particularly important to the performance horse are Copper, Chromium and Selenium.
Copper has many functions. It is essential for bone, cartilage and tendon formulation, the utilization of iron in the formation of haemoglobin and in the formation of melanin, the black pigment in hair.
Also a high concentration of iron in the diet can interfere with both zinc and copper absorption, making already low levels of these minerals even less available to your horse. Check that you are not feeding no more than 8 times more iron than zinc.For example the most common mineral imbalance found in hay is too much iron combined with low zinc and copper levels.
Chromium exists in two forms, the inorganic metallic form (Cr6) which is toxic to animals, and the organic form (Cr3) which is non-toxic and therefore is able to be fed as a supplement.
Chromium is a constituent of a biochemical involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
The benefits of chromium as an essential nutrient have been recognized by human athletes for years. Studies have shown how daily supplementation increases muscle gain and reduces body fat when combined with a physical training programme.
It is only since 1992 that equine researchers have clearly defined chromium’s role in improving health and performance in horses. Studies showed that horses on diets supplemented with 5mg of organic chromium per day had significant lower blood lactic acid levels after exercise when compared with control horses. Lactic acid is a by-product of energy metabolism. During intense exercise it accumulates in muscles and causes muscle fatigue. By supplementing with organic chromium, the length of time a horse can sustain a maximum effort during exercise is increased. Another benefit of chromium supplementation is the reduction in blood cortisol levels. Cortisol is commonly termed the “stress hormone” –
Levels increase during stressful periods. Increased cortisol levels lead to a reduction in energy utilization and protein synthesis, important factors in the athletic horse.
Selenium’s most important function in the body is as a component of an enzyme called Glutathione Peroxidase – a powerful antioxidant.