When we introduced Optimum EQ in 2007, it was revolutionary: not only for the ingredients in this multivitamin/mineral supplement, but also for what was not included. We formulated Optimum EQ with nutrients from mostly organic, non-GMO, whole foods based on our knowledge that whole food is the best source of nutrition in its most bioavailable form. We refused to add vitamins that were made from by-products of the petroleum industry. Natural and artificial flavorings, preservatives, and inorganic minerals such as carbonates, oxides, and sulfates did not meet our standards and therefore did not make the ingredient list.
At the time, Optimum EQ from BioStar was the only option for whole food multivitamin/mineral supplementation for horses. However, new companies with whole food or semi-whole food supplements are springing up, offering customers many more choices.
As we continue to study nutrition for horses, we have discovered mineral deficits, specific mineral excesses, and protein requirements that have inspired us to update our Optimum EQ formulas. These new formulas are unlike anything else currently on the market.
What do minerals do?
Minerals are essential for a variety of functions. Minerals assist with formation of bone and teeth. They are constituents of body fluids and tissues, components of enzyme systems and are involved in nerve functions. Specific minerals are used to make hormones and maintain a normal heartbeat. Several micro minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc are important for an adequate functioning immune system. Calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium play essential roles in muscle contraction and muscle relaxation.
Mineral deficiencies and excesses revealed:
Horse owners, nutritionists, and veterinarians are increasingly aware of nutritional deficiencies as more and more hay and pasture soil analyses are conducted. The number of horses with metabolic imbalances is increasing as well as the number of overweight horses across the U.S. More allergy panels are being pulled to identify food and environmental allergens in individual horses.
A common deficiency we see in hay analyses involve minerals. Sometimes the deficits are in ratios: low calcium and high phosphorus or high calcium and low phosphorus. There are some hays with very low magnesium levels. Other deficits include copper, zinc, and selenium, also known as the micro or trace minerals.
Conversely there can also be high iron content in hays and forage. It is common for iron to be high in soils therefore forages and hays can also have an excess of iron. Some nutritionists say high iron content can cause an iron overload in horses. This excess in iron can lead to metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. Potassium can also be high in hay and forages and generally does not need additional supplementation except in electrolyte formulas.
We are also seeing lower protein content in some hays depending on where and how they are grown. This lower protein percentage correlates with the higher NSC (sugar and starch) in various hay and forage analysis.
Mineral deficits are one of the nutritional challenges faced by horse owners and their horses. Commercial feed companies recognize this and in response have fortified their feeds with minerals to reduce mineral deficits. Unfortunately, the form of the minerals that are commonly used are predominantly ground up rock. These “rocks” are known as inorganic minerals because they lack a carbon bond. Inorganic minerals have low bioavailability at 0-10% for minerals such as calcium carbonate, and magnesium oxide.
Why do feed and many supplement companies use inorganic minerals? They are considerably less expensive than the organic or chelated forms of minerals which contain at least one carbon bond and provide a higher bioavailability.
At a minimum, horses need 10% protein. Performance horses, brood mares and growing young need higher amounts at 14-15% crude protein. Senior horses can lose their toplines and muscles if fed inadequate amounts of protein.
Hays such as alfalfa have higher percentage levels of protein than many grass hays. Some alfalfa hay tests at 26% protein.
It was not so long ago that feeding guidelines recommended hay be fed at 1% of the horse’s body weight. However with some hays providing less than 10% crude protein, your horse may need 2% of his/her body weight fed in hay. This can be problematic at some boarding facilities where hay is rationed to a few flakes a day. It also can be challenging when hay changes from month to month depending on what the dealer delivers.
What is New in the upgraded Optimum EQ:
The new Optimum EQ will contain a custom blend of chelated minerals, known as proteinates. When horses eat grass and hay they are ingesting minerals have already been chelated by the plant. Plants, just like horses, cannot use inorganic minerals. The plant chelates, or binds, the inorganic minerals absorbed from its roots by attaching free amino acids to the mineral. Now the mineral is organic, having at least one carbon bond. This is called an amino acid chelate.
Why is this important?
Inorganic minerals (ground up rocks) cannot pass through the intestinal wall readily. This is why bioavailability of these inorganic minerals is so low. However, amino acid-chelated minerals can pass through the intestinal wall thereby providing higher bioavailability.
BioStar’s custom mineral proteinates are not made from soy as is common in mineral proteinates in the equine industry. Ours are made from rice and include the full spectrum of amino acids that form a cage around the mineral with 8 bonding sites. This means the minerals are sequestered in these chains of amino acids, increasing the body’s own uptake mechanism.
• Added protein:
We added undenatured whey protein to our new Optimum EQ to augment the protein provided by spirulina and pumpkin seed meal. Undenatured whey protein provides all 18 amino acids, including the branch chained amino acids (BCAAs), which are essential for muscle building and maintenance.
• Peat for GI Support:
For gastrointestinal (GI) support, we added reed sedge peat, sourced from the USA. Reed sedge peat is similar to shilajit. It provides fulvic and humic acids that support beneficial microorganism colonies in the GI tract. It also provides support for a healthy immune system and inflammatory response.
Love the old Optimum?
We are keeping Optimum EQ bars and Optimum HW the same, so if you love the old Optimum EQ and HW formulas, you still have that option. Optimum EQ powder, Optimum JS, Optimum Senior and Optimum Senior JS will upgrade to the new Optimum EQ formula.
Coming in September and October 2019
Look for new Optimum EQ (powder) and new Optimum Senior EQ in September! Optimum JS and Optimum Senior JS for joint support will follow in October.