Horses like humans lose magnesium under stress. The more stress, the more magnesium deficient a horse can become. Stresses can include emotional stress, travelling, inclement weather, predation or bullying from other animals, physical stress (racing, eventing, etc), chemical stress (toxins found on farms that may lead into food and water supply) and immune stress (infections and disease). The biggest problem is also how to supply and replenish magnesium levels to optimal ranges. Normally in the environment, horses will get enough magnesium from a variety of grasses as they roam and travel around, as well as from natural mountain spring waters and streams. In Australia however the grasses tend to be higher in sugars and lower in minerals compared to the mountainous regions in Asia or Europe. Magnesium is also lost from surface soils when there are heavy rains and floods, so the grasses that grow back straight afterwards tend to be magnesium deficient and higher in sugars. The combination of environmental stresses, less magnesium in food supply, and if they have behaviours that are hypersensitive or prone to anxiety, means horses can easily become magnesium deficient. Replenshiment of magnesium is easy with magnesium chloride (food grade) which is fully water soluble and can be added to drinking water troughs and/or feeds. More information here…
Magnesium is needed directly for over 600 enzymatic processes within the body, and even more as a cofactor with other minerals and vitamins. It is vital for energy metabolism via mitochondrial production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), control of calcium balance, regulation of insulin and blood sugar metabolism, heart rhythm and cardiovascular function, muscle and nerve function, and building strength, flexibility and resilience of bones, hooves and ligaments, as well as dental health. Magnesium is also a great horse calmer. In fact, if your horse becomes temperamental and cranky, there is a big chance it’s because of magnesium deficiency.
The majority of readily available horse feeds and forages are grown commercially with the help of fertilizers that contain little or no magnesium. Over time, soils become depleted of magnesium and some other minerals, which are then not available for uptake by the growing plants. The result is an over-abundance of minerals such as phosphorous and potassium and a deficit of magnesium. Some legume forages such as lucerne and clover are naturally high in calcium but will be low in magnesium if grown in magnesium deficient soils. Too much grain and sugary foods like apples can upset the magnesium balance, which can then lead to Equine Metabolic Syndrome, obesity and laminitis. Excessive stress or over-exercise can cause magnesium loss, however manageable exercise with appropriate recovery enhances the horse’s cardiovascular health and clearance of toxins, which helps to prevent Equine Metabolic Syndrome. There is a variance of sensitivities of certain breeds. More information in this article.
Nervous, anxious, cranky temperament
Sudden shying at familiar objects and hypersensitive
Violent pulling-back when tied
Dislike of grooming
Aggression towards owners or herdmates
Separation anxiety, herd-bound
Restless under saddle, unable to focus on rider, bucking
Laminitis, poor hoof quality, footsore without shoes or boots on hard or rough ground
Short stride with inappropriate toe-first hoof landing in movement
Grass belly, gut microbiome disorders and acidosis
Insulin resistant with heavy crest, obesity and diabetes
Stiff, braced posture, pain and inflammation
Front feet placed far back under body when resting
Tight, sloping croup
Excessive sweating in hot weather, shivering in warm, wet weather
Dry, flaky skin, sweet-itch, Qld itch, watery eyes
There appears to be a clear connection between lack of cellular magnesium and metabolic problems such as insulin resistance (IR). In humans it has been established that Magnesium deficiency leads to Insulin Resistance and/or Diabetes as stated in the book “The Magnesium Factor”.
The Magnesium Factor, M. Seelig, A. Rosanoff, Avery, 2003
Industrial grade magnesium chloride is more readily available, but most often has unwanted contaminants, such as toxic metals of mercury or lead, or too much bromine or sulphate. Industrial grade is used mainly for the making of magnesium metal, as agricultural fertilizer, as a de-icing medium or dust control in mines, and also for swimming pools. However food grade magnesium chloride (also called Nigari salt) represents only 10-15% of magnesium chloride salts harvested in the world, is much rarer and is sold for a higher price than the more abundantly available industrial grade. This rarer form of magnesium chloride is usually siphoned from open salt water lakes in pristine alpine regions and simply filtered and evaporated to form salt flakes. It therefore retains a higher level of the naturally occurring trace elements, but doesn’t have the unwanted contaminants. It is mainly used to make tofu by Asian food manufacturers, as well as for human oral and skin care products, and horse feed supplements. Pharmaceutical companies also buy it for further refining and use in pharmaceutical products. More information in this article.
Yes, you can. They are the same flakes from the same source as Elektra Magnesium flakes from Elektra Life Pty Ltd and independently lab tested in Australia.
‘Hexahydrate’ means a compound of six (6) water molecules, so that the magnesium chloride compound is bound up with water crystals. The scientific name for magnesium chloride flakes (salts) is magnesium chloride hexahydrate. You can get magnesium chloride as ‘anhydrous’, which means processed to remove the moisture content. Naturally harvested magnesium chloride salt comes from sea water brine (from ocean, dessert flats or mountain tops). They evaporate most of the water and skim off the sodium chloride that rises to the top and forms a crusty layer, until about the last 15% which is the remaining slurry or salt water brine. This is further dehydrated until crusted sheets of flakes are formed, which make up 98% magnesium chloride hexahydrate plus about 2% of other mixed trace minerals remaining from the original salt water (with little or no sodium). The magnesium chloride hexahydrate comprises 46-48% magnesium chloride, with about half of the flakes being comprised of water molecules. This is why the salt flakes can appear moist or shiny. They are also hygroscopic, so tend to easily absorb more moisture from the atmosphere around them, sticking together into a hard mass as they gain more moisture, until eventually they completely liquefy themselves. The liquefied magnesium chloride solution still has all the same magnesium properties, but just extra water. The extra water does not hinder the efficacy of the magnesium (or go ‘off’), as the minerals came from salt water in the first place. Some people actually prefer to liquefy the flakes into a concentrate and store it in a drum or container with spout. If you want to keep the flakes loose then keep them in an airtight container.