Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for brain function and its deficiency in modern horse diets seems to be far more common than you would expect.
Calcium has many functions in nerve cells:
1. Calcium controls the release of neurotransmitters so controls the communication between one nerve cell and another
2. Insufficient calcium at the surface of nerve cells causes them to 'fire' spontaneously sending
messages around the brain for no purpose except confusion
3. Insufficient calcium on the cell surface can cause a 'short circuit' allowing messages sent to one destination to get misrouted to another. Thumps is an
extreme example of this and causes the diaphram to pump at the same speed as the heart.
4. In order for the nerve cell to transmit a message it must prepare itself by moving calcium into the cell
cytoplasm. If there is insufficient calcium the nerve cell will not be able to function properly.
These failures lead to horses being nervous, spooky, distracted and unable to make quick judgments. Which then
leads to poor performance and safety issues whether hacking, schooling or competing at any level.
Trials showed that 90% of difficult horses responded positively to VCAL
calcium technology while only 22% responded positively to good quality magnesium supplementation.
However the presentation of the calcium in VCAL
is crucial. The effect of inorganic calcium salts like calcium carbonate was virtually non-existant in these trials.
The way calcium is managed in the nerve cell requires large quantities of energy. Many 'horse
calmers' include ingredients that support this energy requirement (B group vitamins and magnesium are examples). Many products that utilise VCAL will also contain these ingredients.
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