Take this 14-ques­tion quiz to make sure your sup­ple­ment shop­ping ef­forts are guided by a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of this some­times over­whelm­ing topic.

EQUUS - - Eq Conversati­ons -

1. Which of the fol­low­ing in­gre­di­ents is most likely to be in­cluded in a sup­ple­ment in­tended to pro­mote a healthy, shiny coat? a. vi­ta­min C b. grape seed ex­tract c. beta carotene d. pyri­dox­ine (vi­ta­min B6)

d. Pyri­dox­ine, also known as vi­ta­min B6, is of­ten found in coat sup­ple­ments. It is es­sen­tial for the for­ma­tion of amino acids that pro­mote hair growth, and de­fi­cien­cies have been linked to skin in­flam­ma­tion and eczema in peo­ple. Other com­mon in­gre­di­ents in coat sup­ple­ments in­clude flaxseed, bi­otin, ri­boflavin, ly­sine and zinc.

2. True or False: The only safe method of pro­vid­ing ex­tra calo­ries to a horse’s diet is with the ad­di­tion of vegetable or corn oil.

le A num­ber of sup ple­ments can help put weight on a horse with­out the risk of a car­bo­hy­drate over­load or the has­sle and mess of oil. These prod­ucts gen­er­ally con­tain high-fat in­gre­di­ents such as rice bran and flaxseed, along with sources of pro­tein to sup­port mus­cle­build­ing and pro­bi­otics to help with over­all di­ges­tive health. They are usu­ally avail­able in pow­der or pel­let form.

3. Which of the fol­low­ing horses could ben­e­fit from an elec­trolyte sup­ple­ment? a. an even­ter com­pet­ing on a warm fall day b. a con­va­lesc­ing horse on stall rest c. a horse rid­ing in a trailer on a hot sum­mer day d. an en­durance horse pre­par­ing for a ride the fol­low­ing week

a. and c. Elec­trolytes re­place es­sen­tial min­er­als that horses lose via sweat. These min­er­als, which in­clude sodium, potas­sium, chlo­ride, cal­cium and mag­ne­sium, play a key role in main­tain­ing fluid bal­ances be­tween cells and car­ry­ing elec­tri­cal im­pulses. Giv­ing an elec­trolyte sup­ple­ment to a sweaty horse---even if he worked up a lather just rid­ing in a trailer---can help him re­cover more quickly. These nu­tri­ents are not stored by the body, how­ever, so pro­vid­ing them prior to sweat­ing isn’t par­tic­u­larly help­ful. Be sure to read and fol­low the la­bel di­rec­tions care­fully and re­mem­ber that elec­trolytes do not re­hy­drate a horse, so you will still need to pro­vide plenty of fresh water.

4. True or False: Hyaluro­nan and hyaluronic acid (HA) are the same thing.

True. Both of these terms---which you’re likely to see on the in­gre­di­ents list for sup­ple­ments de­signed to sup­port joint health--de­scribe the or­ganic mol­e­cule sodium hyaluronat­e, a key struc­ture in the syn­ovial fluid that lubri­cates joints. Hyaluro­nan also helps form the ma­trix of ar­tic­u­lar car­ti­lage, which cov­ers the ends of long bones. Once only avail­able as an in­jectable, HA is now a com­mon in­gre­di­ent in oral joint sup­ple­ment prod­ucts.

5. Which pro­duce-aisle item might you also find listed on the la­bel of a joint sup­ple­ment? a. avo­cado b. ba­nana c. kale d. sweet potato

a. Sev­eral sup­ple­ments for­mu­lated to sup­port joint health in­clude avo­cado/soy­bean un­saponifi­ables (ASUs). These are ex­tracts from soy­beans and av­o­ca­dos that pre­vent de­struc­tion of ex­ist­ing car­ti­lage while stim­u­lat­ing tis­sue re­pair. Re­cent studies in France show that ASUs are ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing the sever­ity of arthri­tis signs, and these sub­stances are avail­able by pre­scrip­tion there for that pur­pose.

6. True or False: If you miss a dose of a sup­ple­ment, it’s smart to dou­ble the next dose to catch up.

False. Sup­ple­ment doses are gen­er­ally cal­i­brated for max­i­mum ben­e­fit and safety. De­vi­at­ing from the pre­scribed pro­to­col, even in an ef­fort to make up for a missed dose, is un­wise. At best, giv­ing a dou­ble-dose will be a waste of money if your horse is un­able to ab­sorb more than a sin­gle dose of in­gre­di­ents. At worst, it could lead to a dan­ger­ous over­dose. Some sup­ple­ments call for a “load­ing” dose dur­ing their ini­tial use, which may be higher than the rou­tine dose, but oth­er­wise dou­bling up on any prod­uct is a bad idea.

7. True or False: Herb-based calm­ing sup­ple­ments are ap­proved for com­pe­ti­tion be­cause the in­gre­di­ents are nat­u­ral.

False. Leav­ing aside the fact that the def­i­ni­tion of “nat­u­ral” is open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, just be­cause a prod­uct is nat­u­ral doesn’t mean it’s le­gal. In fact, many or­ga­ni­za­tions, in ad­di­tion to ban­ning spe­cific med­i­ca­tions and sup­ple­ments, in­clude a clause pro­hibit­ing any sub­stance that could po­ten­tially al­ter a horse’s de­meanor. Fur­ther, some in­gre­di­ents in an herbal calm­ing sub­stance may be on a banned list, even if the prod­uct isn’t, re­sult­ing in a pos­i­tive test. Of course, each com­pe­ti­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion has its own rules gov­ern­ing the use of spe­cific sup­ple­ments. Con­sult your rule­book, speak with a vet­eri­nar­ian fa­mil­iar with the sport and call the or­ga­ni­za­tion di­rectly to en­sure what you are giv­ing your horse won’t dis­qual­ify him from events.

8. Which of the fol­low­ing in­gre­di­ents is not likely to be found in a sup­ple­ment for­mu­lated to pro­mote healthy hoof growth? a. bi­otin b. yeast cul­ture c. me­thio­n­ine d. cop­per

b. While yeast cul­tures are com­monly found in di­ges­tive sup­ple­ments, they are rarely used in those in­tended to pro­mote healthy hoof growth. In con­trast, bi­otin is the ba­sis of many such prod­ucts. This or­ganic com­pound plays an im­por­tant role in the pro­duc­tion of ker­atin, one of the com­po­nents of hoof horn, as does the amino acid me­thio­n­ine. Cop­per is crit­i­cal to bone and hoof for­ma­tion, so is also likely found in hoof sup­ple­ments.

9. How much does the stan­dard sup­ple­ment scoop hold? a. one ta­ble­spoon b. two ta­ble­spoons c. 1/8 of a cup d. none of these

d. There is no stan­dard sup­ple­ment scoop size. This makes it crit­i­cal to use the scoop that comes with each spe­cific sup­ple­ment and con­tact the man­u­fac­turer if you need a re­place­ment. The com­pany can send you a new one or give you the ex­act mea­sure­ment so you can break out the kitchen mea­sur­ing tools to con­tinue giv­ing the cor­rect dose.

10. Which of the fol­low­ing agen­cies is in charge of test­ing sup­ple­ments for safety and ef­fi­cacy? a. the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) b. the United States De­part­ment of Agricultur­e (USDA) c. the Na­tional An­i­mal Sup­ple­ment Coun­cil (NASC) d. none of these A

d. Sup­ple­ments are reg­u­lated by the FDA, but the agency rarely tests nor does it ap­prove prod­ucts. Like­wise, the USDA has no role in sup­ple­ment test­ing or ap­proval. How­ever, one agency on the list can of­fer con­sumers some guid­ance and peace of mind: The Na­tional An­i­mal Sup­ple­ment Coun­cil (NASC) is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion of self-reg­u­lat­ing sup­ple­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers. NASC con­ducts ran­dom prod­uct test­ing mul­ti­ple times per year to help en­sure its mem­bers’ prod­ucts meet la­bel claim. Man­u­fac­tur­ers may dis­play the NASC Qual­ity Seal on prod­uct la­bels only if cer­tain re­quire­ments are met. Among these re­quire­ments are a list of in­gre­di­ents, in­de­pen­dent qual­ity au­dits and an ad­verse-event re­port­ing sys­tem.

11. Which of the fol­low­ing plant­based in­gre­di­ents might you find in a sup­ple­ment de­signed to calm a frac­tious horse? a. rasp­berry leaves b. chamomile c. va­le­rian d. wil­low bark

a., b. and c. Typ­i­cally found in ex­tract form, chamomile and va­le­rian are two herbal in­gre­di­ents found most of­ten in equine calm­ing sup­ple­ments. Both have long been used in hu­man herbal medicine to treat in­som­nia and rest­less­ness. Tea from rasp­berry leaves is tra­di­tion­ally used to ease dis­com­fort of uter­ine cramps in women, and the dried leaves are of­ten the ba­sis of sup­ple­ments in­tended to set­tle frac­tious mares.

12. Vi­ta­min C is of­ten found on the in­gre­di­ents list of an­tiox­i­dant and im­mune­boost­ing prod­ucts, but this nu­tri­ent is also fre­quently added to an­other type of equine sup­ple­ment. You are likely to find vi­ta­min C in sup­ple­ments de­signed for which of the fol­low­ing pur­poses? a. calm­ing b. skin and coat c. di­ges­tive sup­port d. joint health

d. Also called ascor­bic acid, vi­ta­min C is re­quired for the syn­the­sis of col­la­gen and con­nec­tive tis­sue, so it’s not un­usual to see it listed among the in­gre­di­ents of sup­ple­ments for­mu­lated to sup­port joint health.

13. Which of the fol­low­ing sit­u­a­tions might call for the ad­di­tion of a gen­eral vi­ta­min and min­eral sup­ple­ment to the horse’s diet? a. an elite show horse headed into a chal­leng­ing com­pe­ti­tion sched­ule b. a fast-grow­ing wean­ling c. an over­weight pony on an all-hay diet d. an el­derly horse with den­tal trou­bles

c. The nutri­tional value of for­age can fluc­tu­ate from cut­ting to cut­ting and even bale to bale. To en­sure a horse on a hay-only diet is get­ting all his di­etary needs met, con­sult with your vet­eri­nar­ian about adding a vi­ta­min and min­eral sup­ple­ment, some­times called a “bal­ancer,” to his diet. These can pro­vide needed nu­tri­ents with­out ex­cess calo­ries. The show horse, wean­ling and el­derly horse in our ex­am­ple are prob­a­bly best served by com­mer­cial feeds for­mu­lated to meet the nutri­tional re­quire­ments for dif­fer­ent life stages or ac­tiv­ity lev­els. Adding nu­tri­ents to spe­cially for­mu­lated com­mer­cial feeds can lead to dan­ger­ous im­bal­ances.

14.( Bonus short es­say ques­tion) What is the pri­mary dif­fer­ence be­tween pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics? Pro­bi­otics are live micro­organ­isms, of­ten mix­tures of bac­te­ria and yeasts such as Lac­to­bacil­lus aci­dophilus and En­te­ro­coc­cus fae­cium, that are in­tended to pop­u­late the gut with or­gan­isms needed for di­ges­tion. Pre­bi­otics are sug­ars and nu­tri­ents that pro­vide nutri­tional sup­port for gut bac­te­ria. Pre- and pro­bi­otics can be help­ful for horses who have on­go­ing di­ges­tive issues, are re­cov­er­ing from ill­ness or are hav­ing trou­ble hold­ing their weight.

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