Magnesium, Chromium and Vanadium: Supporting the Insulin Resistant Horse

The role of minerals in your horse’s body is an important and sometimes overlooked one as they make up such a small portion of his diet. We rely on forages and hay to get the necessary minerals, however they are only as good as the soil they are grown in. If the soil lacks minerals then the forages and hay grown in it also lacks those minerals.

Each farm’s soil is different and each horse’s nutritional needs are unique. Selecting a complete supplement with organically sourced minerals is necessary to meet your horse’s nutritional needs while enhancing performance and supporting healthy functions of the body. When feeding an insulin resistant horse, choosing the best and most complete supplement is especially important. Chromium, magnesium and vanadium are 3 specific minerals that can support glucose metabolism, especially in insulin resistant horses and ponies.

Chromium is part of the biochemical responsible for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism and aids in the clearance of blood glucose. Chromium is also involved in the formation of glucose tolerance factor by the horse. Glucose tolerance factor has shown the potential to reduce blood glucose and free fatty acid concentrations in subjects with diabetes. It is important in combating insulin resistance and the many biochemical reactions which lead to laminitis.

Magnesium is often the most neglected mineral in horse feeds. It regulates over 325 enzymes in the body including those necessary for metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids which lead to the synthesis of proteins. Magnesium also promotes oxygen delivery to muscle tissue, promotes muscle strength, endurance and muscle relaxation. Calcium requires magnesium, while calcium is responsible for contracting the muscle, magnesium pushes the calcium out allowing the muscle to relax and release the contraction. Magnesium is excreted through urine and during times of stress, it is excreted at a much faster rate. If the body requires magnesium due to a deficiency, it will borrow it from bones, including hooves and soft tissue. A magnesium deficiency can cause an increase in calcium which may result in adrenaline release. This can be mistaken for poor behavior, causing the rider to over exercise the horse, increasing stress and the negative cycle repeats. Working horses require 10-30% more magnesium for even light to moderate exercise. Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance which are commonly associated with laminitis.

While there have not been many studies on the benefit of vanadium for the equine, those that have been conducted indicate that it has effects much like insulin on glucose metabolism. Vanadium helps transport glucose into cells that are involved in the metabolism of sugar. According to EquiLife Ltd., the distribution arm of the Laminitis Clinic, “Vanadium is vital for insulin intracellular signaling and thus important in cases of insulin resistance and diabetes.”
Vanadium stimulates glucose clearance and regulates the processes allowing cells to have a steady supply of fuel. More research is being done on vanadium as it has been a micronutrient being discussed more and more for insulin resistant equines.

When selecting a supplement, specifically for the insulin resistant and/or laminitic horse, the Laminitis Trust recommends:
Feed Supplements for Laminitis

Formula 4 Feet is the most comprehensive feed balancer and general supplement on the market, boasting over 65 micronutrients. The next leading supplement only contains 20, none of which are chromium, vanadium or magnesium.

Formula 4 Feet contains 2.5% magnesium, 4 ppm chromium and 2 ppm vanadium. Both the vanadium and chromium are sourced from natural plants making them more bioavailable to your horse’s body. Formula 4 Feet is the first non GMO hoof and founder supplement to be made worldwide and is approved by the Vegetarian Society. It supports healthy glucose/insulin levels and provides metabolic support while also supporting healthy hooves and providing unique benefits for horses with poor horn quality, weak heels and cracked hooves.

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