Nutritional Options for Boosting Your Horse’s
Minerals are often coenzymes for immune function. Most horses are deficient in minerals. Selenium, deficient in many soils, is important due to its role in glutathione peroxidase, important for the development and expression of all white blood cells. Supplementation of 2-4 mg is commonly used. Zinc has a long list of important immune system functions and also inhibits the growth of several viruses. Zinc is particularly active in the immune functions of the eye and supplementation at 100mg per day is routinely used.
Natural sources of vitamin E are found in fresh green grass but decreases in stored hay. Its immune functions are well documented, and the doses recognized as beneficial to the equine are being raised. Currently 8000-12000 IU is used. Natural sources (d-tocopherol) have much better absorption than synthetic dl-tocopherol.
The essential fatty acids found in hemp, chia and flax support and regulate the immune system as well as help control weight. In humans, overweight people have presented with reduced immune function. The same is true to some extent with the horse. Any horse exhibiting skin lesions from allergies will improve significantly with fatty acid supplementation. Flax and hemp oil can be supplemented at a rate of 2-4 oz per day, or whole hemp, chia or flax seeds fed.
Vitamin C as ascorbic acid is an inexpensive immune system modulator that is well tolerated by almost all horses. It is usually fed at 4-5 gm per day.
Beta glucans derived from many mushrooms are excellent supporters of the immune system. They tend to be expensive, but some are willing to use mushroom extracts. The dosing is usually two to four times the human dose.