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Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids for Horses

There are several potential health benefits of providing omega-3 fatty and -6 fatty acids in equine diets.

Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Shown to reduce inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties can have positive effects on your horse’s joint health.

Omega-6 fatty acids:

  • Naturally occurring fatty acids that help bolster the immune system
  • Can also increase inflammation if not in proper balance with the Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet

The Role of Omega Fatty Acids in Inflammatory Response

Specifically, omega-6 fatty acids are used by the body to make pro-inflammatory mediators for the immune system, while omega-3 fatty acids are converted to less inflammatory products.

Because omega-3 fatty acids compete against omega-6 fatty acids to produce these mediators, higher levels of omega-3 can offset pro-inflammatory responses, and are generally considered to have anti-inflammatory properties.

It is important to remember that inflammation is an important process the body uses to fight infection and mediate tissue repair, therefore a balance between pro-and anti-inflammatory mediators is the goal.  Omega-6 fatty acids do not cause inflammation, rather they provide the substrate needed to mount an inflammatory response if and when it is needed making them a very important part of the diet, along with the omega-3 fatty acids.