Both products are fatty acid supplements in oil form, therefore both supply added fat to the horse’s diet. Supplemental fat for horses has shown to have many benefits such as improved hoof and coat health, and it provides a safe source of added calories without risk of digestive upset or “hot” behavior. The difference in these two oils lies in the specific fatty acids contained in each one.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
When consumed by the horse, fatty acids are stored in the cell membrane and eventually metabolized into various compounds. Lowering the amount of omega 6 fatty acids and increasing the omega 3 fatty acids is beneficial because omega 6 fatty acids are made into inflammatory compounds and omega 3s are metabolized into anti-inflammatory compounds. Both are essential to the horse, but with the addition of grains such as corn to the equine diet, horses consume much larger amounts of omega 6 fatty acids than what could be considered beneficial for the horse. Replacing omega 6 fatty acids with omega 3s can help to reduce the proportion of inflammatory compounds produced in the event of injury or disease.
There are also different types of omega 3 fatty acids, some being more beneficial to a horse than others. The omega 3 supplied by most vegetable oils is alpha linolenic acid or ALA. Marine sources of omega 3s such as fish oil contain the longer chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. It is believed that any ALA a horse consumes must be first converted into DHA and EPA to have a noticeable beneficial anti–inflammatory effect in the horse. Research has shown the ability of the horse to metabolize ALA into DHA and EPA is quite limited. To achieve a reduction in inflammation it is believed to be much more beneficial to directly feed DHA and EPA as opposed to only ALA. Omega Complete contains fish oil in addition to soybean oil, therefore it provides ALA, DHA and EPA in significant amounts. Platinum Healthy Weight contains only flaxseed oil and therefore no EPA and DHA. In addition, flaxseed oil is known to be less stable than other vegetable oils and will oxidize faster. Therefore depending on how it is stored, and for how long, it may not it contain the listed levels of omega 3 fatty acids originally in the product.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant for horses, neutralizing harmful compounds called free radicals produced during normal cell metabolism. This leads to reduced cell damage and improved cell function. Platinum Healthy Weight provides 400IU in the recommended daily dose of 50 ml, while Equine Omega Complete provides 1297 IU in a 4 ounce daily dose. Research has shown a dose of 800IU of supplemental vitamin E a day is not enough to maintain vitamin E levels in the tissue and blood of horses exercised daily. Therefore the addition of Omega Complete to a balanced diet of pasture, hay and grain is a better choice to maintain levels of vitamin E needed to adequately protect a horse’s cells, especially when exercised.
Equine Omega Complete uses organic, Non-GMO soybean oil, as well as deep water, wild caught, human grade fish oil. Both oils are cold expeller pressed to maintain the high levels of fatty acids and stability. It is unclear if the ingredients in Platinum Healthy Weight are organic or non-GMO, and how the flaxseed oil is processed. If an oil has not been expressed in a temperature-controlled setting (cold pressed) the fatty acids may be unstable or degraded due to the heat that occurs during extraction.
Platinum Performance Healthy Weight can provide a healthy source of fat for weight gain with a high concentration of ALA, and a small amount of vitamin E. However, to achieve the maximum benefit from feeding omega 3 fatty acids, the horse must consume EPA and DHA in addition to that. Equine Omega Complete provides a significant dose of ALA along with EPA and DHA, and larger dose of vitamin E to maintain healthy cell function.
Jennifer Wier, O3 Animal Health