Linseed and its unique health benefits
I have fed micronised linseed to my horses for many years and its increasing popularity seemed a good enough reason to write a blog on it.
Linseed is the richest vegetable source of Omega 3 fatty acids
Linseed is nutritionally unique and offers health benefits that can just about help every horse in one way or another. It’s benefits stem from the high fat content and the type of fatty acids that make up that fat, as well as the high soluble fibre content.
Linseed contains high levels of mucilage, soluble fibre that is available to the gut micro-flora but cannot be digested by enzymes in the small intestine. Large amounts of water are absorbed by this fibre, which appears to have a beneficial effect on the gut lining.
Micronised linseed also contains an abundance of other nutrients in addition to omega 3’s and fibre, which include Vitamin B1, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc and Selenium, to name but a few. All nutrients required for a healthy immune system, good metabolism, and improved joint health.
I believe that micronised linseed can be overlooked as an important dietary addition particularly for a stabled horse or a horse with high grain diet. The majority of a horses' omega 3 consumed will be through the grass that they eat. A stabled horse or a horse on reduced grazing over winter will therefore have a significant reduction in omega 3 intake. In addition to this, a grain fed horse will have a much higher intake of omega 6 in their diet. If the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 becomes unbalanced and weighted heavily towards higher omega 6 levels, this will promote inflammatory responses in the body, aggravating joint stiffness, skin conditions and existing allergies.
Micronised linseed also contains an abundance of other nutrients in addition to omega 3’s and fibre
The biggest concern most people have with feeding linseed seems to be its calorific value. However, it only requires a small amount of feeding, 150-200g per day, to obtain significant benefits from the nutrients, fibre and omega 3’s that it provides.
Its versatility is also an advantage. Because it holds many benefits, mainly its anti inflammatory properties, it can be teamed with targeted supplements such as MSM which would help with skin conditions, or inflammatory joint issues, or with a Glucosamine based supplement such as Complete HA. Combining supplements in this manner helps to provide a targeted response to issues that your horse may have.
I have yet to find a reason not to believe that every horse would benefit from the addition of what is a relatively cost effective feed. I have been using it for 8 years now and have no plans to stop feeding it anytime soon!
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