Thehorse.com - Full Article
by: Kentucky Equine Research Inc.
December 19 2010, Article # 17418
Oxidation is a normal metabolic process that allows horses to transform the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins they devour in meals into energy. An unavoidable side effect of oxidation is the creation of free radicals--compounds that have the potential to irreparably damage cells. Free radicals are particularly harmful to the cell membranes (structures responsible for keeping destructive entities away from delicate inner organelles).
Under normal circumstances, substances called antioxidants thwart much of the wreckage caused by free radicals. However, oxidation speeds up during athletic effort due to increased oxygen consumption and accelerated aerobic metabolism. The end result of unchecked oxidation in the bodies of equine athletes could be muscular fatigue severe enough to compromise performance.
In instances of strenuous exercise, natural stores of antioxidants have difficulty providing sufficient protection against the cascade of free radicals generated from aerobic metabolism. Thus, supplementation of antioxidants is particularly helpful in warding off the ill effects of mass-produced free radicals associated with intense exercise...
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