Omega-3 (O3) and Omega-6 (O6) fatty acids are essential polyunsaturated fats, with the term ‘omega’ referring to the chemical structures. O3 fatty acids especially, have been the subject of extensive research, supporting a wide variety of benefits in a range of species.
But does it matter WHICH O3, and WHERE it comes from?
Linseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid ‘alpha-linoleic acid’ (ALA), and is used extensively in feed and supplements;
- However, ALA is a precursor of the longer chain and more bioactive O3’s EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (eicosahexanoic acid), which are typically low in the general diet.
- The efficiency of conversion is very low, estimated to be only 5% in humans.
- This means that when using an ingredient that isn’t concentrated, and predominantly contains ALA, the bioactivity is likely negligible and unable to contribute any significant beneficial effects.
It is also common to feed ingredients that are high in O6 such as preserved forage, plant oils or grain, which results in an antagonistic affect with O3’s EPA and DHA. This is the reason why the proportion of O6 : O3 is so important. If the diet is high in O6 fatty acids, then the level of bioactive O3 fatty acids must be high enough to ‘out-compete’, in order to be stored in significant abundance in cell membranes, where they are particularly involved in supporting and regulating anti-inflammatory processes.
DHA and EPA can be supplemented specifically via marine sources of O3’s to ensure beneficial effects are achieved, but as an ingredient is more expensive than the cheaper and less bioavailable alternatives. When providing DHA and EPA specifically to mammals, beneficial effects are supported by research and can be utilised for supporting a range of health benefits, including:
- Arthritic conditions
- Respiratory disease (such as RAO and IAD)
- Neurological health
- Cardiovascular function
- Health of breeding stock
- Health of high performance horses
- Glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity (such as EMS)
We use marine source EPA and DHA as a concentrated source of bioactive O3 fatty acids in FlexAbility Plus, FlexAbility Professional, RespirAid, and ImmunAid. If your horse could benefit from support for any of the conditions above, get in touch with us for a free consultation.