Bioavailability – The Most Important Factor in Choosing a Supplement

Bioavailability – The Most Important Factor in Choosing a Supplement

By Sara Perkins, DVM

When choosing a supplement most of us study the label to check out the ingredients. Whether we are simply trying to provide daily requirements or attempting to improve a health issue, we look to see that the nutrients of interest are there and we might also be interested in the amounts. Unfortunately, the most important factor is not indicated on the label.

BIOAVAILABILITY is what it is all about. If an ingredient is listed on a label, it does not guarantee that it will be absorbed by the horse through the gut and go into the bloodstream to have an effect on the body. Consumers are largely on their own when it comes to sorting this out and deciding which products to trust. Frankly, it is a fairly complicated subject as many factors can determine how well a nutrient in a supplement is absorbed. To name a few:

• The exact chemical form of the ingredient (nutrients often come in various forms, some more easily absorbed than others)
• Ingredient quality
• Balance of ingredients (nutrients interact and can block or encourage the absorption of other nutrients, the recipe must account for these factors)
• Method of processing (some nutrients can be damaged, chemically altered, or lost when processing involves things like heat, pressing, or oxygen exposure)
• Final form of product (for example, some nutrients are better provided in a liquid form than a solid)
• Enhancers (some products contain yeast which assists the digestion of some nutrients)
• Absorption capacity of each nutrient (some are innately more easily taken in by horses than others)
• pH

Therefore, we must carefully determine how much of what is on the label actually gets to our horses. It is not spelled out for us. It is a matter of quality, care, integrity, and scientific development.

Way Station Wellness & Equina: Traditional Veterinary Medicine Meets European Nutrition

Way Station Wellness & Equina: Traditional Veterinary Medicine Meets European Nutrition

Written by Sara Perkins, DVM

I didn’t used to think the equine body and mind needed supplementation beyond proper feed.  We have always fed high quality timothy and alfalfa hay, and strongly recommended it to our clients.  My horses have always grazed on lush pasture; they looked good and performed well.  I had used a few supplements throughout the years without much success, which reinforced these ideas.  I thought things were optimal.  One day a client offered me a bucket of Equina’s Meganutril complete nutritional supplement to try on my Lusitano stallion.  In an attempt to keep an open mind, I fed it to him for 3 days.  He wasn’t impressed, and neither was I.  I didn’t even put forth the effort to get him to eat it.

Dr. Sara Perkins and her Lusitano Stallion, Neroc

A few years later, that client became a friend and a mentor in horsemanship as well as some of the healing arts.  Out of respect for her, I tried Meganutril again, this time feeding it to my herd of 10 used for polo, dressage, and breeding.  At the same time, I began feeding it to horses we were rehabilitating with various injuries and illnesses.  My stallion even decided to eat it.  My friend was willing to spend time teaching me what she knew of Chinese medicine and various forms of energy healing as well as classical horsemanship and methods of equine rehabilitation she had learned in Europe and Asia.  Naturally, I questioned some of her methods and we would challenge each other daily, but I always appreciated her time.  When she insisted that I feed the Equina products, I did it mainly because I did not want to let her down after all she had done for me.  I was diligent in giving the Meganutril to all my horses and all possible patients.  Soon, we had access to some of the specialized products and I incorporated those as well.  I studied the source in Germany well enough to know the quality was excellent and the ingredients were sensible, however, I had no particular expectations.

The results were actually pretty significant.  Horses that were normally shiny on springtime grass had dimensional metallic dapples.  Horses with nice toplines now had fuller toplines with increased suppleness to their muscles.  Over the course of a year, poor hoof quality that I had been battling in a few cases became a thing of the past.  Clinicians and clients were starting to ask me what I feed my horses.  Vitality, appetite, focus, rideability, soundness, digestion in a severe post-op colic case, chronic skin conditions healed—the list and details go on—and I will go into them further in future blog posts.  As a veterinarian who practices traditional medicine, I am a scientist and a bit of a skeptic by nature.  I had to admit, my friend was right.  So, we can add nutrition (and maybe even a little alchemy in the case of the Equina products) to the list of things she has taught me about.  Alchemy was something she spoke of often.

Sadly, my brilliant friend passed not long ago at a very young age.  When her family asked if I would like to take part in what she had done to continue importation of the Equina products into the US the answer was a definite YES.  She taught me to look deeper and further refine my image of what each horse can be.  Consequently, these supplements have become a requirement for my personal horses, rehabilitation cases, and many of my clients’ horses.  I think my friend is satisfied to know that her efforts with one stubborn vet have already helped a fair number of horses achieve better health!

And, by the way, it does make sense on a very basic scientific level that horses should benefit from a good supplement.  High quality forage will provide a large component of the daily requirements of an average horse under minimal stress.  However, there are definite tendencies that need to be corrected. Some have to do with deficiency or even excess.  Many have to do with the balance of nutrients.  Most forages do not have ideal levels or ratios of the important vitamins, minerals, or trace elements.  Plant and soil content vary.  Some nutritional value is lost in hay as it is stored.  Horses used for athletic events or breeding have increased nutrient requirements, so do those with physical challenges such as illness, stress, injury, or growth.  There are many factors to consider when deciding what is best for our horses. It is fascinating to consider each nutrient and its function and inspiring to think of how much we can help the horses by tapping into a source of optimal support.

 

Equina Quality and Certifications

Optimum nutritional value is of utmost importance for equine athletes. This can only be achieved through the most current science and research as well as premium quality ingredients. Equina products are designed and created to cover the horse’s physiological needs and the quality production process ensures the effectiveness of the active components and that they are not diminished. The result is an easily absorbed, highly effective product. Our premium quality is achieved through top notch ingredients and strict production standards and controls.

Equina Products are formulated with the latest science and research and produced at MIAVIT where quality management is second to none. The MIAVIT certifications ensure the products you receive meet the strictest of standards. Quality management runs through the entire manufacturing process. From formulation to buying of raw materials, receipt and storage of incoming raw materials and on through production and dispatch. In fact, a preventative risk assessment is performed through their HACCP concept so that possible risk can be prevented or minimized in advance of production. MIAVIT quality standard is ensured through analytical monitoring (over 12,000 tests done annually), 100% traceability with their early warning barcode system, separate mixing lines to guarantee highest level or product purity, ongoing, regular employee training that far exceeds the standard and supplier management through continuous assessment, analysis and auditing. In addition, MIAVIT audits all quality management measures regularly, has a very thorough compliant processing system designed to statistically evaluate all complaints and corrective measures in order to prevent and reduce errors. MIAVIT’s formulation department not only tests and evaluates their own products, they use a dual review process for customer’s formulation development as well.

MIAVIT certifications include –
TUV SUD. This is a global company whose headquarters in in Germany. They specialize in 3rd party solutions and help companies to maximize profitability, ensure quality and sustainability. They certify many industries including food supplements and food packaging. Testing for higher standard, safety, reliability and quality, ensuring a global standard, looking at company regulations and efficacy, and minimizing risk non-compliance are their focus throughout these industries. They asses the company as a whole in order to provide holistic solutions, have cross industry expertise, a global network and are future focused.

FAMI QS. They are a pioneer in the feed ingredient field serve 47 countries and are located in Belgium. They have developed a quality and safety system for specialty feed ingredients and their mixtures. Minimizing risk of unsafe ingredients, feed hygiene regulation and measurements to ensure safety regulations are met are the primary focus. Additionally, they are animal based and their codes are aimed at specialty feed ingredients and mixtures. Training and certification process in intense and they offer training programs geared towards Food Safety awareness and FDA Modernization act. In October of 2017 they launched their revised standards in order to keep up with the developments within the industry. They are present in the United States; however most top feed companies do not carry their certification.

GMP/GMP+. Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices + (Plus adds HACCP – Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points). Started in the Netherlands in 1992 as a result of several contamination issues, it has developed and evolved into an international company involving more the 70 countries. The main goal being to ensure consistent quality feed, they believe that food safety starts with the cultivation of products and must continue through all aspects of production until the product reaches the retail outlet, this includes storage, transport and detailed documentation of procedures. They define clear conditions to guarantee safety and sustainability. The addition of the ISO/HACCP certifications resulted from the process evolving into a more preventative and proactive process throughout with a structured approach to risk management. The EWS (Early Warning System) was also implemented to reduce the impact of a contamination. Objective Independent Audits are performed on a regular basis to ensure policies, procedures and guidelines are met and do not need to be updated, changed in order to keep with the companies over growing certifications. GMP+ is one of the most valued and recognized certifications in the industry. It is important to recognize that cGMP registration is gained by meeting facility standards while GMP certification requires actual testing of the end product, the actual supplement. GMP certification is very rare in the United States among the major lines of equine supplements.

Bio Seigel EG. Organic certification. This certification shows the company’s products use agriculturally produced products according to EU regulation in organic farming. 95% or more of ingredients in the products must come from organic production. This certification meets German organic food labeling act standards. Producers must also participate as certified operators under controlled system provided for in regulation.

QS Pruzeichen. QS certification mark shows products have been cross staged quality assured for fresh food.

For processes that have a critical impact on food safety or animal welfare, QS goes beyond the legal requirements. For feed supplements QS inspections involve comprehensive feed monitoring. All feeds are regularly tested for certain pollutants (mycotoxins, heavy metals and dioxins). The examination results must be deposited in the QS database. For certain pollutant parameters, QS with stricter limits goes well beyond the legal requirements. QS requires exclusive use of raw materials according to approved/positive list for feed materials or lists of recognized standards. In addition, substances on the QS exclusion list may not be used as feed in the QS system. For deliveries of compound feed (loose goods) to farmers, the VVVO number is documented for traceability. QS has specifications for the cleaning and disinfection of trucks used to transport animal feed.

Cynthia Whaley and Quaila

“I have a 29-year-old Dutch Warmblood with Cushings who has been on Haemoxil since Spring 2017.  I started using it after I asked Dr. Perkins about options available to address the lack of energy my mare was having during work outs (yes, you read that correctly- 29yrs old and we still jump weekly!).  I wanted a supplement that had simple, clean ingredients that wouldn’t interfere with her specifically balanced diet.  It has made an amazing difference in the continued athleticism of my mare! I would recommend Haemoxil for any horse suffering from a lack of energy, thriftiness, or in recovery from illness.  My horse has a shiny coat, is perky and happy, completes her regular workouts with ease and she absolutely loves the taste.”

 

– Cynthia Whaley and Quaila