Calcium (Ca) is one of the most well known minerals in the equine diet. It is closely associated with its interaction with phosphorus in the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio and the impact that ratio can have on growing horses. The bones of the horse contain about 35% calcium. Calcium is also involved in muscle contraction and in regulating many of the enzymes in the body.
Calcium depletion through a diet that is low in calcium is likely to cause weakening of bone in adult horses and can cause major problems in growing horses resulting in deformed bones and other problems.
Phosphorus (P) is an extremely important mineral that is essential to your horse's health. It is also found in the bones like calcium approximately 14%. Its main function is in the production Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which supply the majority of energy to all the cells.
A deficiency of Phosphorous will cause bone problems such as rickets and also have a major effect on the horse’s performance.
Chloride works as the major anion in the horse’s body. It helps to regulate the fluid outside cells. It is also essential for the production of bile which helps the digestion of fats in the large intestine and it helps to produce hydrochloric acid, an important part of the digestive process.
Signs of a deficiency of chloride would include decreased feed intake, muscle weakness, decreased milk production in the lactating mare, possible weight loss, and dehydration.
Magnesium (Mg) is another very important mineral particularly for muscle function. Magnesium attaches to Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP so that the ATP can be used by the muscle cells. If the magnesium is not available in sufficient quantities, the ATP cannot be used, and the muscle cannot generate enough energy to carry out any functions. Magnesium involved in blood function and is a co-factor for many enzymes.
A deficiency of magnesium can cause nervousness, muscle tremors and Ataxia.
Potassium plays a huge role in maintaining acid-base balance and is also crucial in maintaining osmotic balance which is the amount of water that is inside cells. Its most important function is regulating skeletal muscle function.
Deficiency of potassium will normally only occur in hot weather or through strenuous extended exercise when the horse loses potassium in the sweat and can cause muscle tremors, cardiac arrhythmias, and weakness.
Sodium is perhaps the most important mineral it is involved in the function of the nervous system, it transports many key components like amino acids and glucose across membranes throughout the body and like potassium is hugely important in the osmotic regulation of your horse's body fluids. The more Sodium there is in an area, the more water will be drawn to that area.
Sodium deficiency includes poor skin quality, abnormal licking of objects as they search for salt, decreased water intake, slow eating, and eventually loss of appetite and an unsteady gait.
Sulfur is found in many of the agents that are crucial to your horse’s health. It is found in Biotin, Chondroitin Sulfate, Insulin, Methionine and many other elements, there are so many key nutrients in the horse that contain sulfur that an adult horse contains about 1.5 pounds of sulfur. It is a key element in most of the enzymes in the body.
A sulfur deficiency has never been recorded in horses.
Copper (Cu) is important for the maintenance of connective tissue and other structures. It is especially key in growing horses, as bone collagen relies on the presence of (Cu) to develop correctly. It also helps to move iron in the body and it is crucial to the creation of red blood cells.
A deficiency of Copper will be associated with problems with the bones and connective tissues.
Manganese (Mn) is important in the correct formation of bones and cartilage tissues because it is a part of chondroitin sulfate. It is also key to the function of a number of important enzymes, and must be present in the digestion of carbohydrates.
While deficiencies in manganese are uncommon they will show as bone abnormalities, since chondroitin sulfate cannot be properly created in the absence of the mineral.
Zinc (Zn) is crucial for the function of many of the enzymes in your horse's body; most notably, enzymes that are responsible for blood clotting, insulin production and wound healing along with many other functions.
A zinc deficiency would include hair loss, slow wound healing, reduction in enzyme production and a poor appetite.
Iron (Fe) is essential for your horse to be able to transport oxygen throughout his blood. It makes up the center of hemoglobin, which is the oxygen transport molecule in blood. It is also present in myoglobin, which helps get oxygen into your horse's muscles.
60-80% of the minerals in your horse's body are found in hemoglobin and myoglobin. Another 20% is stored in the liver, spleen, and other tissues, and the rest is distributed throughout the body in various places.