Dr. Gray's Featured Article: Horses Absorb Components of Gelatin, Researchers Find

This article was originally published at www.TheHorse.com

In 2006, a pair of researchers who reviewed the literature on gelatin (hydrolyzed collagen) in humans found that it is absorbed intestinally and accumulates in cartilage. They also reported that supplementing gelatin led to a significant increase in the production of new tissue by cartilage cells. Their conclusion: gelatin might help patients affected by joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. But can these findings be extrapolated to horses, which are given gelatin not only for joint support but also for healthy tendons, ligaments, and hooves?

The answer is: partially. Scientists in Germany recently conducted a study to determine if gelatin supplementation in horses would assist in cartilage repair. They fed 12 horses a regular hay and grain diet supplemented with soybean meal and oil if they were in the control group, or supplemented with 60 grams of gelatin if they were in the test group. Both groups of horses underwent the same training program and blood sampling. After as little as six days, horses in the test group had significantly higher blood levels of glycine and proline, amino acids found in high concentrations in gelatin. They concluded that the amino acids from gelatin are absorbed quickly by the horse and become available for amino acid metabolism. Further research is needed to determine if the amino acids from gelatin are specifically utilized in the prevention or repair of cartilage or other connective tissues.

Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006 Nov;22(11):2221-32.

Coenen M, Appelt K, Niemeyer A, Vervuert I. Study of gelatin supplemented diet on amino acid homeostasis in the horse. Equine Vet J Suppl. 2006 Aug;(36):606-610.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet, Nutrition

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