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Of all the ingredients found in a horse’s diet, minerals are among the most unusual. While they make up only the tiniest fraction of the weight of the daily ration and contribute no energy and contain no carbon, they’re critically important for literally dozens of daily bodily functions.
Without minerals, horses could not metabolize fats, proteins or carbohydrates; their muscles and nerves would not function normally; and, their bones could not support their own weight.
Minerals help the blood transport oxygen throughout the body, maintain the body’s acid-base and fluid balances and are necessary components of virtually every enzyme that the horse needs for daily metabolism.
Minerals are integral parts of some vitamins, hormones and amino acids. Yet they make up only about 4% of the horse’s total body weight (as compared to 30% to 35% for fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and about 60% water). In the case of minerals, a little contributes a lot.
Minerals are generally divided into two categories:
Macrominerals, which include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, and chlorine (as chloride) are described in grams per kilogram or percentages. To provide some perspective, the micromineral “unit,” ppm, is 10,000 times smaller than grams per kilogram. Iodine, manganese, iron, cobalt, zinc…