Magnesium, the Mighty Mineral for Horse Health

A healthy, active horse at work.
A healthy, active horse at work. Custom photography

Newsdate: Monday, March 11, 2019, 10:00 pm
Location: TEMPE, Arizona

The importance of magnesium was ignored for many years, but appreciation has grown with our understanding of the vital functions it fulfills. Like calcium and phosphorus in the skeleton, magnesium has an important structural role as a component of bone, cell membranes and chromosomes.

Paint horse in sunny pasture.

Paint horse in sunny pasture

Like calcium and phosphorus in the skeleton, magnesium has an important role as a component of bone, cell membranes and chromosomes in horse health.
© 2016 by Horse Crazy

Minerals as cofactors are associated with enzyme systems, usually at their active centers. Magnesium performs this function for hundreds of different enzymes. It is required for the synthesis of the major energy compound, ATP, and for its stable storage as MgATP.

Magnesium is also essential for the production of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, DNA, RNA and the antioxidant glutathione.

Magnesium exists in the body in two forms - bound and ionized. Bound magnesium is incorporated into bone's structure or affixed to ATP, enzymes or blood proteins like albumin. The ionized form is magnesium in the blood or the tissues as a free magnesium ion, with two positive charges - Mg+2.

Ionized magnesium performs many important functions in the horse by competing with ionized calcium, which also has two positive charges - Ca+2.  Ionized Ca is an excitatory mineral for nerves that release the chemical [neurotransmittor] acetylcholine. When ionized Ca+2 enters the nerve it triggers release of acetylcholine which in turn activates other nerves or causes muscular contraction, both heart and skeletal muscle.  In addition, magnesium in the normal brain blocks access to a receptor called the NMDA receptor which is linked to hyperexcitability.

Magnesium also has important functions in the maintenance of both blood vessels and the lung's bronchi in a normal, open state. If all of this is not enough, research in people and experimental animals has linked normal magnesium status with helping to maintain glucose and insulin homeostasis.

Obviously optimal intake of magnesium is important. Guaranteeing your horse has correct magnesium levels is a little tricky. Blood (serum) levels are OK for seeing the extremes of high intake or severe depletion, but not very sensitive to levels in between which could still be interfering with normal function.

Abnormally low levels can be present inside the cells or the fluid surrounding them when blood levels are normal.

A recent German study (Winter et al 2018) measured the magnesium level inside cells, specifically the lymphocyte white blood cells, which is a much more sensitive test. This work started to establish a normal range for horses, but more work needs to be done before it is available as a commercial test.

The best test of the horse's status to date is called fractional clearance of magnesium. This is determined by an equation after measuring concentrations of creatinine and magnesium in both blood and urine simultaneously.

The tests are easy to run in any laboratory, but obtaining urine is time consuming or invasive and urine obtained after stimulating urination with a diuretic cannot be used.

The best indicator of whether you horse should have supplemental magnesium is a diet analysis, including hay or pasture analysis. The National Research Council has established recommended minimum intakes for all ages and classes/uses. The horse may also benefit from having magnesium intake adjusted to a Ca:Mg ratio of 2:1.

Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya®, offers supplements to that provide magnesium.

Magnesium Oxide 58% is a highly concentrated source of Magnesium promotes healthy sugar metabolism, muscle and heart function, and normal nervous system function.  Magnesium oxide has good bioavailability in horses.  It is the most concentrated magnesium source, meaning you can feed less than with other forms.

Magnesium Carbonate 25% is an essential dietary mineral that is often deficient in the horse's body. It is essential for normal regulation of muscular and nervous system function, insulin sensitivity, energy storage and enzyme activity. It is a low iron form of magnesium that is readily available to the horse, and also helps buffer high acid conditions in the stomach.

Bioplex Magnesium promotes healthy muscles and nervous system function. Involved in over 250 separate body reactions in the horse, magnesium also balances the actions of calcium, which has an excitatory effect on muscle and nervous system tissues.

Glycocemic EQ supports blood sugar levels within normal ranges.  Targeted ingredients also promote balanced immune and thyroid function, normal glucose metabolism, healthy nerve function, and proper insulin sensitivity.  Promotes healthy insulin levels by providing nutrient levels that are compatible with a wide variety of diets and sources of hay.  Available in a palatable powder or pellet.

Seroquine Paste, Powder or Pellet is a palatable herb-free calming supplement to support healthy nervous system function while maintaining alertness. May reduce hyperactivity and promote relaxation for normal emotional balance. With Magnesium to support a healthy stress response and nervous system function.  Also contains the B-vitamins Thiamine and Inositol, and Taurine, which helps modulate the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin.

About Dr. Kellon
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, is an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years, and a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience.  Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.

Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya, is an innovation-driven health company committed to making people and their animals healthier.  On the leading edge of nutritional science and technology for over 50 years, Uckele formulates and manufactures a full spectrum of quality nutritional supplements incorporating the latest nutritional advances.

Press release provided by Susan Libby - Uckele Health and Nutrition

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