Vitamins and Minerals - necessary or just expensive wee?

When I was studying for my degree I did a paper on nutrition that required me to record and analyse my diet for two weeks.  I studied in the age of dinosaurs so there was no MyFitnessPal or similar to scan barcodes and record data, it was all painstakingly written down by individual item with the breakdown of the protein/carbohydrate/fat and all trace elements.  

I began the process expecting to see a real deficit or imbalance in my very average diet but nope, after two weeks, my recordings showed that I had managed to eat everything required to fulfil the needs of a woman my age, height and weight.  

In the first instance I took this to mean that supplements do just make expensive urine, but once I delved a little deeper there was a lot more to be considered than just these RDI’s (recommended daily intakes) including the RDI’s themselves.  

RDI’s can differ greatly between countries, for example in NZ the RDI for calcium is around 1000mg per day yet in Japan the RDI is under 500mg.  Advertising and government healthy eating pyramids also promote what is consumed and cultivated in that country.  For example, in NZ there is a strong push towards eating beef and lamb to meet iron requirements and dairy for calcium that is not seen in countries that rely more on seafood/rice/soy to meet needs.  

In addition to each healthy eating pyramid being slightly skewed to a country, there is the fact that there is more being discovered about what a healthy diet consists of all the time, yet we’ve only seen one major change in the pyramid since it was introduced in the late 1980’s.  So I tend to take this information with a grain of salt and focus more on what works for each individual.  We are ALL different, I thrive on a plant based diet but know plenty of people who would rather cut off a finger than eat the way I do!  So each to their own with diet but where does that leave us with supplements?

From my point of view, it is the same as the diet, each to their own - if you find something that works for you, as in makes you feel better, sleep better, eat better, then take it!  I’m a big fan of a good B complex as I work kinda hard and can get a bit stressed.  I call them my bitch pills, if I’m getting bitchy it’s time to take some B ;) I also love Magnesium as it helps me sleep and whenever I stop taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin my joints don’t move as freely, there are others but like I said, it’s an individual thing.

So where does that leave us with supplements for horses?  You guessed it, it’s an individual assessment and there’s a bit of trial and error required to find what works best for each horse.  In a perfect world they would get everything they need from the pasture and a bit of hard feed, but that’s a bit idealistic as I’m yet to see a horse not make massive improvements from a tweak to their diet and supplements depending on what is going on.  When you find something that changes their behaviour or brings out a beautiful shine and dapples - KEEP THEM ON IT! 

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