Frequently asked questions about Myo-Guard™
Oxidation is a normal metabolic process in which fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are converted into energy to fuel body functions. Without oxidation, horses couldn’t work or play. An unavoidable side effect of oxidation, however, is the production of free radicals: molecules capable of destroying cellular structure and tissues.
As the body uses more and more oxygen to drive athletic effort, free radical production increases. This hyperproduction of free radicals may provoke significant tissue damage.
Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), are unstable atoms with unpaired numbers of electrons that are formed when oxygen interacts with other molecules in all cells. Once formed, these reactive radicals can initiate chain reactions resulting in a cascading negative effect on many other molecules within cells and cell walls, which in turn causes oxidative stress within the animal. Free radicals are commonly produced as part of normal cell metabolism, but also can become excessive following intense exercise, injury, or disease. Left uncontrolled, free radicals can cause considerable irreparable damage to cells and cell membranes. They can alter the structure of cell membranes, and create havoc to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), proteins, and DNA within cells. The more active the cell, the greater the potential risk of cellular damage. Excessive free radical production or oxidative stress results when the formation of free radicals overwhelms the body’s ability to break the chain reactions that take place and an imbalance between production and removal of free radicals occurs.
Antioxidants are dietary compounds that inactivate free radicals and block oxidative reactions. Free radicals produced as a result of infrequent, low-intensity exercise can usually be neutralized by natural antioxidant defense systems. However, excessive production of free radicals, which often occurs with intense exercise, may overwhelm normal antioxidant mechanisms and ultimately damage cells and tissue. Supplementation with a powerful medley of antioxidants may be necessary for horses training for or competing in demanding sports.
Vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin C are present in the bodies of horses. Vitamin E is the most widely known and effective antioxidant. Natural vitamin E is a highly potent form of vitamin E that protects the stability of the cellular membranes and provides a defense against oxidative stress. Unlike synthetic vitamin E, natural vitamin E is preferentially absorbed and transported throughout the body. It is also retained in tissues for longer periods of time.
Selenium acts in concert with vitamin E to prevent oxidative insult to cells and tissues. Vitamin C, on the other hand, safeguards structures within the cell. In addition, vitamin C has been found to aid in the regeneration of vitamin E in the body. Once vitamin E inactivates free radicals, it is usually no longer useful to the body. In the presence of vitamin C, however, the antioxidant properties of vitamin E can be restored. A balanced mix of antioxidants provides comprehensive cellular protection, which leads to healthier muscles that recover more quickly from exhaustive exercise.
- Reduced tolerance for work due to fatigued muscles
- Muscle soreness and delayed recovery from work
- Episodes of sporadic or chronic tying-up (exertional rhabdomyolysis)
Increased oxidative stress has been measured in horses performing high-intensity, short-duration exercise and low-intensity, long-duration exercise. Therefore, additional antioxidants would be appropriate for any horse that participates in regular, demanding exercise, regardless of discipline.
Can antioxidants benefit my horse after a stressful performance or if muscle damage has already occurred?
Yes. It is recommended that antioxidants be administered following hard work when signs of muscle fatigue and damage are evident. Antioxidants will help horses recover from work sooner and return to feed more quickly, eliminating downtime between performances and training periods.
Forages and most fortified concentrates contain vitamin E and selenium in amounts that meet the nutrient requirements for mature horses at maintenance. The amount of these two nutrients found in the average daily horse ration is not, however, enough to meet the demands of horses undergoing strenuous training and competition, and will not provide enough to help horses recover from hard work, especially if they have gone off feed.
Yes. Myo-Guard should be fed daily when horses are in training or competing. Nutritionists have found that most performance horses require supplementation to meet the additional antioxidant usage resulting from consistent, demanding muscle activity. Providing antioxidants on a routine basis will help maintain adequate antioxidant levels in the body’s tissues so horses have access to them they need them.