Oxidation is a natural process that occurs when oxygen is combined with various other elements in the body during metabolism. It happens to humans, and it happens to our horses and other animals, too.
However, the rate of oxidation will depend on the activity of the animal. At rest, the rate is lowest, but during exercise, stress, pregnancy, or lactation, it’s normal for the rate of oxidation to increase.
When rates increase, it’s known as oxidative stress, and when this occurs, the amount of free radicals in the body increases. Free radicals are damaged cells missing a critical molecule that are on a rampage in the body to pair with another molecule.
An overabundance of free radicals will damage healthy cell membranes, leading to decreased immune function, illness, and/or nervous system dysfunction within the animal.
This is where antioxidants--substances such as vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, etc. that slow and prevent free radical damage--come into play. In fact, antioxidants are a crucial part of the horse’s diet.
You might be wondering how you can ensure that your horse is getting plenty of antioxidants, and the good news is that if your horse is kept on green pasture, he is likely getting plenty of these nutrients. However, many horses do not (or cannot) have access to green pasture, and unfortunately, the process of drying and curing hay destroys most of the antioxidants naturally present within plants.
It’s also possible that some horses need more antioxidant support than what green pasture can provide, such as in these cases:
Horses in moderate to heavy work;
Horses with muscle disorders such as tying up or PSSM;
Ill, injured, or immune-compromised horses; and
Horses with allergies.
What is the best equine antioxidant supplement?
Several well-established equine antioxidants include vitamins A, E, and C, as well as the trace minerals zinc, copper, and selenium. However, one particular antioxidant known as astaxanthin, derived from the microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis, has proven to be a game changer when it comes to horse health and performance.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, a special type of antioxidant which gives salmon, lobsters, and even flamingos their red or pinkish hue (because they feed on the microalgae). Astaxanthin also happens to be the main ingredient in Fullbucket’s Medical Muscle, and when this powerful antioxidant is combined with L-carnitine (the other main ingredient in Medical Muscle), studies have shown that it can significantly lower creatine kinase levels, a marker of muscle damage, in exercising horses.
This means that astaxanthin can help to ward off muscle problems in horses, such as instances of tying up. In fact, researchers concluded that both ingredients are helpful for maintaining condition and overall health in exercising horses (1).
Along with helping to support muscles, astaxanthin has shown other health benefits as well, such as lowering oxidative stress in overweight people and smokers. The antioxidant has also shown to have excellent safety and tolerability (2).
If you want to fight oxidative stress and keep your performance horse on the right track, Medical Muscle is most definitely the way to go!