What is Flaxseed?
Flaxseeds are derived from common flax or linseed, a blue-flowering plant grown primarily in cooler climates around the world. Flaxseeds provide the highest percentage of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (an essential Omega-3 fatty acid) of all plant-based sources5. Flax and flaxseeds are typically processed to produce consumable and industrial products such as flaxseed meal, linseed oil, and several different types of linen cloth / fine papers. Canada is the world’s largest producer of flaxseed and represents approximately 40% of global flaxseed production.
Flaxseed enables horses to maintain healthy, hydrated skin and slick, shiny coats.
Flaxseed is a popular source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are commonly given as a nutritional supplements in the equine industry. Recent research shows that these fatty acids “may help manage chronic inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, equine metabolic syndrome, laminitis, and thereby help to improve the longevity of sport horse”2. Additional research shows that flaxseed “was able to reduce the lesional area of the skin test response of atopic horses, alter the fatty acid profile of the hair, reduce inflammation, and did not elicit any negative side-effects in the experimental horses.”1. Together, these benefits can help your horse maintain healthy, hydrated skin and slick, shiny coats.
Plant-based Omega-3s are superior to supplements derived from fish oil.
Not all Omega-3 fatty acids are created equal – fish oil is the second most common source of Omega-3 fatty acids in equine nutritional supplements available on the market today. Although generally regarded as safe, horses are natural herbivores and marine-derived products are not part of a horse’s natural diet. In addition, fish oil is susceptible to waterway contamination and may include trace amounts of PCBs, heavy metals such as mercury, and other pollutants.
Horses that have high-grain diets may benefit from flaxseed supplementation.
High-grain diets and products, such as corn/sunflower oil, significantly increase the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in your horse’s diet. Equine nutritionists have stated that “too many Omega-6s and not enough Omega-3s can result in excessive inflammation in the body. Therefore, having adequate amounts of Omega-3s in the diet to moderate the pro-inflammatory response of the Omega-6s is desirable.”4.
1: O’Neill, Mckee, and Clarke, Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, Oct 2002
2: Hess, Ross-Jones, Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, Dec 2014
3: Richards, FeedXL: Omega 3 For Horses: What, Why, How?, Sep 2012
4: Crandell, KER Equinews, Oct 2015
5: Rodriguez-Leyva, Bassett, McCullough, Pierce, Canadian Journal of Cardiology, Nov 2010