In this episode, I explore a widespread nutrient deficiency among horses, focusing on the remarkable benefits of one particular nutrient.  

Magnesium has multifaceted properties, making it as indispensable for horses as it is for us as humans. 

Magnesium deficiency in horses is a common concern. Today, I tackle that problem head-on, sharing the process I use to determine the nutrient that would be most effective for the unique health profile of each horse.

The Prevalence of Magnesium Deficiency in Horses: A Startling Reality

Magnesium is a vital mineral for the wellbeing of all horses. Yet, reports show that approximately twenty percent of horses are deficient in it. While horses can adapt to functioning with less than optimal nutrient levels, about fifty percent of horses suffering from illnesses or health issues have a magnesium deficiency, and there are various ways in which those magnesium deficiencies can show up. 

Common Signs of Magnesium Deficiency in Horses

Common signs of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, nervousness, muscle spasms, tension, muscular pain, stiffness, and sometimes even insulin resistance. Recognizing these symptoms can be a vital step in improving the health of your horse.

The Multifaceted Role of Magnesium in Horse Health

Magnesium plays a multifaceted role in equine health, with its primary functions revolving around bone and muscle function, nervous system support, and sugar metabolism. Magnesium is an essential mineral for healthy bones, as it aids in calcium absorption. It is also crucial for muscle relaxation because it is an effective antispasmodic. Moreover, magnesium supports the nervous system by regulating neurotransmitters, facilitating nerve transmission, and managing the stress response in horses. It also plays a pivotal role in sugar metabolism and energy production, making it especially valuable for horses with insulin resistance. Understanding these roles can go a long way in helping you identify when magnesium supplementation might be beneficial for the needs of your horse.

Causes of Magnesium Deficiency in Horses 

Several factors could lead to magnesium deficiency in horses, making it vital to assess the specific risk potential of your horse. Inadequate magnesium levels in grass and hay are common culprits, as is stress induced by confinement, loneliness, and food restrictions. 

Understanding the Risk Factors

Diarrhea, the use of diuretics, and exposure to toxic heavy metals can all deplete magnesium levels. Medications like proton pump inhibitors could hinder digestion and magnesium absorption, and overtraining- both physically and emotionally, could create stress that depletes magnesium stores. 

Becoming aware of these risk factors can help you identify whether or not your horse might be at risk of magnesium deficiency.

Choosing the Right Form of Magnesium for Your Horse

Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. It is essential to understand the difference between organic and inorganic forms of magnesium because that could impact your horse’s ability to absorb and benefit from it. Organic forms of magnesium, such as citrate, gluconate, and bisglycinate, are more bioavailable because they are attached to carbon-containing molecules, closely resembling natural compounds found in plants. In contrast, inorganic forms, like magnesium oxide and magnesium sulphate, lack carbon in their chemical structure and are less easily recognized and absorbed by a horse’s body. 

Opting for organic magnesium forms could significantly improve the absorption and utilization of this essential mineral in your horse.

The Hidden Challenge of Competition for Mineral Absorption 

Many minerals found in commercial feed programs, including magnesium and calcium, compete for absorption in the body of a horse. When inorganic minerals get broken down into ions, they can interfere with the absorption of other minerals. That highlights the need for a careful approach to mineral supplementation, as horses may only absorb a fraction of what they get.

The Complex Interplay of Minerals

Recognizing the interplay between various minerals and how they get absorbed allows us to understand why some horses continue exhibiting nutrient deficiencies despite regular supplementation. That is why it is essential for you to understand the nuances and familiarize yourself with the specific nutrient profile of your horse if you want to make informed choices around supplementation.