Fats and Oils in the Diet of Horses
Fats are an essential part of the nutrition of horses that have been pretty much ignored until recently. Fats consist of chains of carbon atoms strung together in various ways with two oxygen atom's at one end forming an organic acid, therefore these are called fatty acids. Fatty acids are produced by both plants and animals and they come in a number of configurations that effects the appearance, chemical properties, and nutritional value of the fat.
Depending on the length of these chains, how they are put together, the other atoms present, and most importantly the length of the chain they can be either liquids or solids at room temperature. Often the liquid form of fat is called "oils" and both belong to the larger family of chemicals called "lipids". We will use the term fat in this article to refer to all forms of dietary fatty acids.
Fats have 3 essential functions in the diet or metabolism of equines:
- Aid in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) from the gut.
- Essential fatty acids, the omega-3 and omega-6's, are required for the synthesis of some chemicals that the body needs for normal function.
- A concentrated source of energy.
Surprisingly fat supplemented diets are also beneficial in several equine disease conditions and well tolerated in relatively high concentrations in the diet. This is surprising because horses have evolved as a grazing animal whose natural foodstuffs are very low in fats. This article discusses fat as a nutrient in the horses diet, diseases that may benefit from fat supplementation, and how to go about buying and supplementing the horses diet with fats.
~Word Count: 3290 words (The average magazine page contains about 600 words);
~Last Updated: April 17, 2011;
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Discussions on Fats and Oils in the Diet of Horses
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