the value of spirulina for horses (not to mention kids):
Spirulina is a nutrient-dense microalgae, usually fed in the form of a concentrated green powder. There are many reported health benefits from consuming spirulina, such as supporting respiratory function, and the immune system. This is due, in part, to the composition of proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, trace elements and essential fatty acids that make up this superfood.
Spirulina is abundant in plant proteins (60-70% of its weight) with a full range of essential amino acids Some common vitamins found in spirulina are beta-carotene, B1, B2, B12, and E. Note, cobalamin (B12) is the most difficult vitamin to find in a vegetarian diet, yet it is essential as a precursor to other molecules needed in the body. As well, the antioxidant properties of spirulina are due to the high vitamin E, beta-carotene, and carotenoids present. Spirulina is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus; making it advantageous for athletes, vegetarians, pregnant women, and teenagers.
The nutraceutical benefits surpass normal health food fads, as experts are using spirulina to combat malnutrition in developing countries. For example, the administration of 10g per day of spirulina significantly improved the nutritional status of undernourished children when compared to the control group in a study done by Matondo and colleagues (2016).
A review of the most recent literature published on the administration of spirulina to horses shows a reduction in health ailments. The green powder derived from freshwater blue-green algae (spirulina) exerts potent anti-histaminic, anti-inflammatory, and immune system‒moderating effects. Most notable are improvement in respiratory health, weight loss, and improved insulin sensitivity. Spirulina can be considered a good supplement for horses under immune stress, such as show horses or those exercising at high intensities. Since it increases the activity of the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and catalase, and aids in the regulation of immune and inflammatory processes. Recent research indicates that that spirulina can be used as an alternative approach for supporting conventional treatments of equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) an endocrine disorder linked to insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and systemic inflammation. The overfeeding of animals and glucose metabolism dysfunction contribute to the development of EMS, which in turn creates obese and insulin-resistant animals. 2017 research showed that supplementation of spirulina restored liver cells by reducing cellular oxidative stress and inflammation. Hepatic cells are the first to be exposed to dietary compounds during supplementation, and thus are important for optimal nutrient uptake. Also observed was a protective effect against energy cell dysfunction and degeneration from the spirulina extract used in the study.
To conclude, spirulina has gained enormous attention as a successful source of nutraceutical and pharmaceuticals, both in the human and animal nutrition industries. With continued research spirulina is a promising feed additive for horses, and has the potential to mitigate endocrine disorders such as EMS.
Written by Lola Jung, 2022. Edited for brevity HfH.
For more information on spirulina supplementation for horses check out:
Pearson, W. 2015. Spirulina for horses: a mighty immune modifier. Can. Horse J. Available on: https://www.horsejournals.com/horse-care/feed-nutrition/spirulina-horses.
References: contact Ralph@horseherbs.com