Saturday, October 26, 2013
Why salt is such an important component of the horse's diet, and understanding the dangers of electrolytes
The major electrolytes in blood are sodium and chloride, which together make salt. Inside cells, potassium substitutes for sodium. Other important electrolytes (minerals in free/dissolved form) include calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus and the trace minerals zinc, iron, copper and manganese.
Potassium is included in large amounts in all electrolyte supplements, but the fact of the matter is the diet already contains plenty. Of all the important electrolytes/minerals, the only ones that aren't present in adequate amounts in the diet are sodium and chloride-that's plain old salt.
At baseline, the horse needs to take in approximately 1 oz. of salt a day to stay hydrated. Sodium is the major mineral controlling how much water is in the horse's body. Because it is in such short supply in their diets, horses have evolved to have a strong hunger for salt, and their bodies will also save sodium at the expense of losing other minerals if they have to.
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