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Secrets of Selenium


Healthy horses require a balance of vitamins and minerals, most of which are ingested through grazing or consuming locally grown hay. In the northeast, one big exception to this rule involves the mineral selenium . This area is considered to be selenium deficient, which means the horses will not consume enough of this critical mineral if they just graze and are fed local hay. Selenium has a vital role in many bodily functions, including (but not restricted to): muscle health, tail and mane growth, thyroid activity and fertility.


Recently there has been excitement brewing over an “organic” selenium supplement, which has been used with success in many horses who were non-responsive to other selenium supplements. This form of selenium is not organic, as in “pesticide-free,” rather it is chemically organic (containing a carbon molecule). Most selenium sources available are sodium selenite, a salt form of selenium. Although this form is absorbed by horses to some degree (enough to keep a lot of them happy and healthy), certain horses have difficulty utilizing it. This prompted a group of smart scientists to come up with the following scheme: they took yeast cells, which normally need sulfur to live. They starved the yeast of sulfur for a period of time, put them in a bath of only pure selenium, which they willingly used in lieu of the sulfur, and this resulted in a product called selenomethionine. This is the form of selenium that exists in nature.


Horses that have trouble with the selenium salt seem to flourish on this yeast-selenium product. If your horse has muscle issues or selenium-related health problems, you might want to look into this new product, sold as Sel-Plex®. It is manufactured by Alltech and is currently available in this area at J & L Feeds in Corfu, NY, (585)-599-6400.

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