What is Chromium?
Chromium is an essential trace element for horses, playing an important role in supporting healthy metabolism of carbohydrates in the diet. As a component of Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), chromium helps activate insulin receptors, improving glucose uptake in the cells, and helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In short, chromium puts glucose to work where it is most effectively used by the horse for immune function, growth, performance and overall health.
As leaders in animal nutrition, we take care to include only technologies with proven merit and efficacy, adding the most outstanding value to your horse's feed. Chromium is found in differing amounts in everyday feedstuffs, but the ability to benefit the horse varies greatly among sources. KemTRACE® Chromium is a highly bioavailable, organic source of chromium propionate, backed by millions of dollars and decades of research, and the first FDA approved product of its kind on the equine market.
What is Glucose?
Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and fats supply the bulk of the energy in a horse’s diet. During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which the body’s cells depend on to fuel normal function, growth and performance. Approximately 60% of a horse’s daily intake is utilized for basic life functions such as digestion and respiration, then the remainder of glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscle, or used for the horse’s secondary needs such as growth, performance, and immune function.
But before the glucose can be utilized for these functions, it must be mobilized from the horse’s blood supply, into the body’s tissues. This is where insulin and chromium come in.
How Do Insulin and Chromium Work?
Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is the “gatekeeper” allowing glucose in the bloodstream to enter the cell and be used for energy production1. Chromium improves insulin function by increasing receptor activation eight fold2, improving glucose uptake by the cells, and helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Maximizing the cells’ glucose use allows the horse to utilize the energy provided in the diet more effectively for body upkeep, health, growth and performance.
Chromium Effects on the Metabolic Horse:
Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a term used to describe horses with metabolic and hormonal disorders, often identified by obesity, insulin resistance, and laminitis. “Easy keepers” and thrifty breeds such as ponies are often predisposed.
Insulin resistant horses have elevated blood glucose levels for extended periods, due to insulin’s decreased ability to transfer glucose into the body’s cells. In response to elevated blood glucose levels, the body continues to produce insulin, attempting to mobilize this glucose into the body’s tissues. The high prevalence of insulin in turn, often leads to laminitis.
Chromium improves insulin sensitivity, helps to clear glucose from the blood stream, and may improve health of horses suffering from EMS. Added Chromium is ideal for horses with elevated blood sugar that do not respond to a low sugar/starch diet.
Chromium Effects on the Performance Horse:
- Improved Immune function: immune cells are completely reliant on glucose for energy3. Increased glucose uptake by cells may help improve the horse’s ability to mount an immune response.
- Reduced stress: Stressors such as extreme weather, diet changes, travel, exercise, disease, training, and competition trigger cortisol production, and in turn cause aggressive behavior, suppressed immunity, and increased risk of gastric ulcers, colic, or diarrhea4. Chromium reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reducing negative impacts of stress on the horse5.
- Improved Performance: Horses with low muscle glycogen levels due to intense exercise, prolonged, or consecutive days of training or competition can show fatigue and impaired performance6. By increasing glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells, and replenishing glycogen stores, Chromium may improve the horse’s overall performance, and reduce the onset of exercise related fatigue. Research also shows evidence that chromium supplementation may help some horses with chronic exertional rhabdomyolysis, also known as “tying up”, by clearing blood glucose, and making glycogen storage and use more efficient in the muscle tissue7.
The ingredient can be identified on feed tags as "Chromium Propionate."
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Watch the KemTRACE® Chromium webinar recording HERE
Read more about the benefits of KemTRACE® Chromium for Insulin Resistant Horses HERE
If you would like to learn more about Poulin Grain's complimentary forage analysis, diet balancing for your horse, and other personalized services, please visit www.poulingrain.com or call 800-334-6731 to speak to a feed specialist near you!
1. Loving, N.S.(2019, April). It’s all connected: Bodywide Inflammation in horses.Thehorse.com/161728/its-all-connected-bodywide-inflammation-in-horses.
2. Kleefstra, N. (2013). Chromium and Diabetes. Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins. Diabetes Centre, Isla Clinics, Zwolle, The Netherlands. Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen.
3. Palsson-McDermott, E.M. and L.A. O’Neill. (2013). The Warburg effect then and now: From Cancer to Inflammatory Diseases. Bioessays.35:965-973.
4. Malinowski, K. Stress Management for equine athletes. Esc.rutgers.edu/fact_sheet/stress-management-for-equine-athletes.
5. Pagan, J.D., S.G. Jackson and S.E. Duren. (2018, March). The effect of chromium supplementation on metabolic response to exercise in thoroughbred horses. Ker.com/published/the-effect-of-chromium-supplementation-on-metabolic-response-to-exercise-in-thoroughbred-horses.
6. Mertz, W. (1992). Chromium: History and nutritional importance. Biological Trace Element Research.32:3-8.
7. Kentucky Equine Research. (2013, March).Importance of Chromium in the Diet. ker.com/equinews/importance-chromium-diet.
KemTRACE® Chromium is a registered trademark of Kemin Industries, Inc. USA.