Tara A. Hembrooke, PhD, MS 2013-02-25 06:34:42
FROM OUR CORPORAT E PARTNERS Joint Health for Performance Horses Joint disorders are the number one contributor to lameness in the horse, and lameness is the main reason for decreased athletic performance and quality of life. So, it is no wonder that horse owners are continuously looking for ways to keep their horse's joints healthy. Nutritional supplements offer a non-invasive, cost-effective approach to equine joint support. But the overwhelming number of options can be confusing. This is a review of the primary ingredients found in many joint supplements to help horse owners make informed decisions on how best to treat their horse. Because there are multiple contributors to joint disease, a combination of nutrients may be the best option. HOW VARIOUS NUTRIENTS PROVIDE JOINT SUPPORT: Glucosamine is one of the most commonly-used joint supplements for both humans and animals. It is a sugar-like compound (hence the name "glucose"amine) that is a major component of joint cartilage and connective tissue. More specifically, glucosamine is part of glycosaminoglycans (often just referred to as GAGs), which are cartilage components able to attract and hold water. This is partly what gives cartilage its ability to resist compression. So glucosamine is a building block for cartilage. In addition, though, glucosamine appears to have biological activities outside of just being a structural component of the joint. Decreases in cartilage breakdown and increases in cartilage protein synthesis have been reported following glucosamine supplementation. Glucosamine has been reported to slow the progression of joint disease and can even reduce the reliance on anti-inflammatory medications. Some horse owners worry about providing glucosamine to their horses with metabolic syndrome because it is a "sugar-like" compound, but little evidence suggests glucosamine supplementation actually will raise blood sugar levels and lead to poor glucose control. Hyaluronic Acid is a key component of synovial fluid, which nourishes, lubricates, and protects the joint, and is also a building block for cartilage extracellular matrix. Although commonly provided as an intra-articular injection, orally-administered hyaluronic acid has been shown to be bio-available and effective in reducing post-operative joint inflammation in horses. Omega-3 fatty acids have become more and more recognized for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Since inflammation plays a major role in joint disease, many horse owners are turning to Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as a way to maintain joint health and help treat existing joint problems. In fact, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help protect joint components against strong inflammatory and joint-degrading compounds. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids have analgesic benefits that could reduce the need for certain pain medication. The derivative of an Omega-5 fatty acid, cetyl myristoleate, has also been capitalized on for its anti-inflammatory effects. Initially identified and isolated from a specific mouse strain immune to induced arthritis, cetyl myristoleate has since demonstrated joint protective benefits in lab animals and humans. Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) refers to a tiny portion of avocado and soybean oil that has demonstrated an ability to both increase the production and decrease the breakdown of the joint cartilage structure called aggrecan. Aggrecan is the conglomeration of glycosaminoglycans (such as chondroitin sulfate) and what makes up a predominant noncellular part of cartilage (also referred to as the extra-cellular matrix). Maintaining optimal levels of aggrecan is critical for healthy joint function. Supplementation with ASU has resulted in benefits regarding joint health. MSM stands for methylsulfonylmethane, a sulfur-containing compound that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits. MSM is a metabolite of DMSO, meaning DMSO gets broken down into MSM. But MSM does not result in the formation of DMSO. One of the primary benefits of MSM is its sulfur content. Sulfur is a major component of cartilage and is often drastically reduced when osteoarthritis is present. Sulfur is also an important component of the major antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase, which makes it no surprise that antioxidant benefits of MSM have been reported in the literature. Oxidative damage results when the production of reactive oxygen species (molecules with an unpaired electron in their outer orbital) outweighs the body's natural oxidative defense system, which is made up of antioxidant enzymes and micronutrients. Since oxidative damage has been linked to the breakdown of various kinds of tissue– including various joint components–having a strong oxidative defense system can be critical for joint health. Antioxidants include vitamins such as C and E. They can be minerals like zinc and iron as well as other compounds like glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid. Silicon is a mineral that is very important for healthy connective tissue, like cartilage and bone. Without adequate silicon in the diet, animals develop deformities that are indicative of poor-quality connective tissue. When silicon is provided as a supplement, improvements have been seen in calcium update (very important for bone/joint health) and even exercise performance. Silicon may also have antioxidant benefits, which is important for joint health. SUPPLEMENTING YOUR HORSE What level of support does your horse need? Horses that have sustained a joint injury, senior horses, and horses that are in training can require a substantial amount of support to keep them feeling and performing their best. A daily regimen of several joint-supporting nutrients should be considered to help offset the effects of the various factors that can contribute to joint disease. A less active horse that has no known joint health issues can be maintained on a less comprehensive supplementation program. What is the single most beneficial nutrient that I can supplement with? Providing a daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial to the whole horse, not just the joints. The anti-inflammatory effect of a diet with a high Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio can be beneficial in the hoof, the coat, and the digestive system as well as the joint. When should you start giving joint supplements to your horse? As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." If you ride your horse regularly or have your horse in training, it should be receiving supplemental joint support. For less active horses, you may be able to wait until the horse is older to begin a supplementation program. For more information about how supplements can support Joint Health, call 1-800-553-2400 to speak to a Platinum Advisor at Platinum Performance®, the Official Oral Joint Supplement of the NRHA. Dr. Tara Hembrooke is a research scientist with Platinum Performance, and oversees the clinical nutrition laboratory located at the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center. FIVE MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF JOINT PROBLEMS AND SUPPLEMENT SUGGESTIONS FOR HORSE OWNERS: There are at least five contributors to the development of equine joint disease. Fortunately with nutrition, we can influence and slow down each of these five contributors. JOINT PROBLEMS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION Inflammation is a necessary response for healing and survival. However, continual exposure to the inflammatory response is a primary cause of joint disease. FREE RADICAL DAMAGE Free radicals can degrade the hyaluronic acid in synovial fluid, which results in loss of viscosity and can impair the joint's ability to move smoothly without friction. DEGRADATIVE ENZYME ACTIVITY The hallmark of osteoarthritis is deterioration of articular cartilage, generally by enzymatic degradation of type II collagen and aggrecan by enzymes known as aggrecanase enzymes. TRAUMATIC INJURY OR OVERUSE Although exercise is important for the growth and maintenance of healthy joints, overuse and exercise-related injuries are often contributors to the development of joint disease. NATURAL AGING PROCESS Everyday activity and exercise contributes to normal wear and tear on the joints. Chronic exposure to free radicals and inflammation also speeds the aging process. SUPPLEMENT SUGGESTIONS ■Omega-3 fatty acids ■Glucosamine ■Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) ■Cetyl-Myristoleate ■Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E ■Botanical compounds such as boswellia serratta and turmeric ■Antioxidants ■Hyaluronic acid ■Omega-3 fatty acids ■Omega-3 fatty acids ■Antioxidants ■Silicon ■ASU ■MSM ■Omega-3 fatty acids ■Antioxidants Selected References 1. Fenton, J., et al., Effect of glucosamine on interleukin-1-conditioned articular cartilage. Equine Vet J, 2002(34): p. 219-23. 2. Piperno, M., et al., Glucosamine sulfate modulates dysregulated activities of human osteoarthritic chondrocytes in vitro. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 2000. 8(3): p. 207-212. 3. Hesslink, R.J., et al., Cetylated fatty acids improve knee function in patients with osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol, 2002. 29: p. 1708-1712. 4. Usha, P. and M. Naidu, Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest, 2004. 24(6): p. 353-63. 5. Kim, L.S., et al., Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 2006. 14(3): p. 286-294. 6. Kawcak, C.E., et al., Evaluation of avocado and soybean unsaponifiable extracts for treatment of horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis. AJVR, 2007. 68(6): p. 598-604. 7. Lequesne, M., et al., Structural effect of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on joint space loss in osteoarthritis of the hip. Arthritis Rheum, 2002. 47(1): p. 50-8. 8. McAlindon, T., et al., Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum, 1996. 39(4): p. 648-56. 9. Blankenhorn, G., Clinical effectiveness of Spondyvit (vitamin E) in activated arthroses. A multicenter placebo-controlled double-blind study [Abstract only. Article in German]. Z Orthop Ihre Grenzgeb, 1986. 124(3): p. 340-3. 10. Carlisle, E., Silicon as an essential trace element in animal nutrition. Ciba Found Symp, 1986. 121: p. 123-39. 11. Carlisle, E. A relationship between silicon and calcium in bone formation. in Federation Proc 29. 1970. 12. Curtis, C.L., et al., n-3 fatty acids specifically modulate catabolic factors involved in articular cartilage degradation. J Biol Chem, 2000. 275(2): p. 721 - 4. 13. Maroon, J.C. and J.W. Bost, [omega]-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology, 2006. 65(4): p. 326-331. 14. Balogh, L., et al., Absorption, Uptake and Tissue Affinity of High-Molecular-Weight Hyaluronan after Oral Administration in Rats and Dogs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2008. 56(22): p. 10582-10593. 15. Bergin, B., et al., Oral hyaluronan gel reduces post operative tarsocrural effusion in the yearling Thoroughbred. Equine Vet J, 2006. 38(4): p. 375-8.
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