Corn Oil and Inflammation in Horses

Corn Oil and Inflammation in Horses

Why Is Corn Oil Used For Horses? 

Corn oil has long been used as a top dressing for horse feeds. It’s long term popularity has had much to do with its palatability and the fact that it brings horses out in a brilliant shine. Corn oil is also considered to be a ‘cool’ source of energy – particularly useful for horses in endurance events, and it is very cheap.


There’s many benefits of using corn oil, however, corn oil also has a number of drawbacks that should be carefully considered before adding it to your horses diet.  Corn oil in the diet has shown to increase lactic acid production in horses doing intense exercise. Similarly, it has shown a greater increase in heart rate during intense exercise. 


Problems of corn oil for horses 


The most notable drawback of corn oil however, and the one most relevant to a great number of horse owners, is its ability to promote inflammation in body tissue. Corn oil contains a high level of omega 6 fatty acids and low levels of omega 3 fatty acids. 


The Role of Omega Acids In Horses


Omega fatty acids play an important role in the regulation of inflammatory responses in the body. Omega 3s have an anti-inflammatory effect whilst omega 6s have a pro-inflammatory effect. At times of infection, injury or illness, inflammation plays an important role in the immune response and is useful to the horse during recovery. Omega 6s are involved in the body’s role of producing inflammation mediators so that when illness or infection are present, the body can respond appropriately. Omega 3s help to ensure that inflammation responses do not occur when the horse is in good health and there is no need for such a response.


Balancing Different Types of Omega Acids


To ensure that the body is able to maintain appropriate inflammatory responses, it is important that omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the diet are balanced. If the balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids is disrupted, the result will be inappropriate, excessive inflammation and an upset in the normal physiological state of the horse, both of which can be harmful.

Whilst there is not a clearly defined ratio of omegas 3:6 that has been agreed upon and is backed up by research, it is generally believed that an approximate ratio of between 1.5:1 and 3:1 is ideal for horses.

If the level of omega 6s in the diet exceeds the level of omega 3s by more than the above-mentioned ratio, a negative inflammatory response can occur. 


Oils to feed to your horse


Corn oil, with its high levels of omega 6 fatty acids and low levels of omega 3 fatty acids, is a frequent culprit of imbalances in omega levels. There are many other oils that are more suitable for horses that don’t pose this problem such as coconut oil, linseed oil and seabuckthorn oil. 

If you’re feeding corn oil, consider making the switch to a more omega friendly fat source! 

One of Alpha Gold’s primary ingredients is linseed oil, so this is a great oil to add to your horse’s diet to maintain a healthy level of good omegas.  

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