The value of this oilseed lies within its unique fatty acid composition. Fatty Acids are the nutritional components of oils and fats. There are two types of fatty acids that are labelled “essential” because they must be acquired through the diet. Neither humans or animals can synthesize them on their own. These two essential fatty acids (EFAs) are linoleic acid (LA which is synthesized into Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA which is synthesized into Omega-3).
Omega-3 Supplementation in Equines
The balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a horse's diet is very important. Both nutrients have important functions within the body, and balancing the two is imperative in order for them to function appropriately. Because horses are herbivores and grazers, their bodies are naturally inclined to having a higher level of Omega-3 compared to Omega-6. Their Omega-3 intake comes from the small quantities of fat in their forage and their Omega-6 comes from the fats found in the oil of their grain rations.
To date, there has not been a recommended ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 that has been documented for horses. It is believed, however, that a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 5:1 Omega-3 to Omega-6 is optimal for a horse's health.
Omega-3 supplementation in a horse's diet has been shown to:
Improve the quality of their skin and hair coat
Decrease joint pain in horses that suffer from arthritis