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Supporting Joint Health with Supplements by Clare MacLeod MSc RNutr

It’s not surprising that supplements for joint support are the most common type of supplements bought by horse owners. Horses are generally kept for their athletic abilities and therefore they often need musculoskeletal support. It’s not just dysfunctional joints that can benefit from supplementation – hard working healthy joints can benefit as well.

Joint Health

Joints – the junction where two bones meet – are well designed for their purpose of allowing movement. Most joints have ends covered in smooth cartilage, allowing gliding movement of the bones. Compared with bones, however, they are a weak point which can be prone to damage. Damage can be repetitive low level over long periods, and/or sudden injury from a twist or overextension. Cartilage is a highly effective tissue when it’s working well, but it has a poor blood supply and doesn’t repair well during healing. On top of that, if it doesn’t form well in the young animal, it is more prone to damage later on. 

The most important factor for good joint health is to be very respectful of the horse’s fitness and strength, never overtraining, incorporating enough rest into training schedules, getting the horse conditioned enough for events, taking care with surfaces, and keeping the horse’s musculature and ligaments strong and conditioned and working as efficiently as possible. No amount of good feeding and joint supplementation can take the place of these key factors. 

What’s the point of supplementing for joints?

Poor feeding can increase the risk of joint damage, however, so a well-balanced diet and good hydration are both essential for optimal joint health. On top of that, specific supplementation can support the joint tissue and aid natural healing after damage. Joint supplement ingredients work by a combination of dampening inflammatory processes, providing building blocks for repair and maintenance of joint tissues and having supportive effects via joint tissue metabolism.

ReadySupp offer two choices for joint support: Joint Care and Performance Joint. ReadySupp Joint Care helps support supple, healthy joints and provides the building blocks for healthy cartilage, healthy joint metabolism and optimum joint function. ReadySupp Performance Joint is a powerful supplement that provides all of the essential ingredients of ReadySupp’s Joint Care, with the added benefits of green-lipped mussel extract, boswellia, omega-3s and hyaluronic acid. This hard working formulation helps support mobility and flexibility and optimal joint tissue metabolism and function in hard working horses and ponies, and those with a history of joint injury or stiffness.

Key joint supplement ingredients 

Glucosamine promotes cartilage metabolism, supporting the natural restorative processes in the joints. Chondroitinreplaces proteoglycans in articular cartilage, inhibiting the enzymes involved in cartilage breakdown. Laboratory research trials show that both glucosamine and chondroitin protect against cartilage breakdown and inhibit inflammatory mediators. The glucosamine and chondroitin used in ReadySupp Joint Care and Performance Joint are bioavailable sources. 

MSM (methyl sulphonyl methane) is an antioxidant that supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes. A study of sports horses jumping by researchers in Spain showed a reduction in oxidative damage in horses supplemented with MSM. The effect was enhanced by Vitamin C, which is a key component of connective tissue, and a powerful antioxidant. Ascorbyl monophosphate is used as the source of vitamin C in ReadySupp Joint Care and Performance Joint because it has a higher bioavailability than ascorbic acid. 

Green lipped mussel extract (GLME) is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has a soothing effect on the joints.  A high quality research study published in the Equine Veterinary Journal showed that GLME alleviated lameness and joint pain and improved joint function in a group of horses with osteoarthritis of the fetlock when compared to a placebo. 

Boswellia, also known as frankincense, is an anti-inflammatory tree resin which research has shown to have beneficial effects on the natural pain mechanism of joints and on joint function. It contains a substance that inhibits an enzyme that is involved in joint inflammation and it has the extra benefit of not degrading cartilage or irritating the stomach as do some commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Rosehip powder is rich in antioxidants and research has shown supplementation to have beneficial effects on the natural anti-inflammatory processes in joints. Supplementation inhibits the cell damage caused by inflammation in the joint, increases comfort and improves joint flexion.

Hyaluronic acid is a component of joint fluid that lubricates the joint capsule and helps trap fluid in the cartilage, keeping it flexible and resilient to excess compression. Researchers have shown that supplementation to horses has beneficial effects on the natural anti-inflammatory processes in inflamed joints. 

Essential omega-3 fatty acids (FA) have a modulating effect on inflammation in the body and research has shown a reduction in joint inflammation with supplementation. Omega-3 FA from fish oil – EPA and DHA – are more readily available in the body than the precursors from plant sources of omega-3 FA. They need to be fed long term i.e. for at least several weeks for best effect. 

When you choose ReadySupp Joint Care or Performance Joint you can be sure your horse is getting a high quality supplement containing valuable ingredients in effective daily serving rates, meaning you are giving your horse the best joint support you possibly can. 

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