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Expert interview: Science-based nutraceutical supplement, a way to bring value to horses and pet owners

lindinger interview

5 questions for Dr. Michael Lindinger, President, Nutraceutical Alliance, Canada, nutraceutical supplements design and regulatory specialist.

Dr. Lindinger, in your daily job as a nutraceutical supplement designer, what are the questions your clients need you to answer?

The main question my clients need to answer is ‘is there good science that will support their product?’ I help them find the evidence-based research behind each ingredient they want to put in their product. Usually, they want a product to do a certain intended effect, whether it's to support cognitive function, joint health or immune health. So, I help them identify different ingredients that can work together to make unique and innovative products that are based upon science.

What is the future of equine nutraceutical supplements, which types of challenges will need to be addressed?

I think one of the most important challenges for horse supplements would be gut health. We need products that work really well for the stomach, products for the caecum and products for the large colon. Each of those functional areas of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract have their own unique structure and function. A supplement that’s designed for the stomach, for example, won't really be that effective in helping maintain intestinal integrity, for example. Hence, we need different products. The products need to go beyond probiotics into blended ingredients that do more than one function at the same time. For example, ingredients that will improve the intestinal barrier or maintain the barrier function while also promoting the health and diversity of the microbiome, as well as the mucosal barrier.

Which type of antioxidant nutraceutical supplement for horses do you commonly suggest?

I think antioxidants should be integrated into most nutraceutical supplements. One of the interesting things is that most functional ingredients will have some antioxidant capacity, which is a good thing. We know, for example, to maintain good gut health — just stomach health — the presence of an antioxidant in the stomach is a good thing. We know this is true as well for the small intestine, the cecum and the large intestine. We know this is true for skeletal muscles with high intensity exercise. So, antioxidants really help at every level and every organ or system in the body.

He added:

This can include a complementary range of products, each of which with antioxidant activity that’s targeted at different tissues. Those are targeted, for example, at the large intestine should be different than those that are targeted at skeletal muscles during recovery from training or high intensity exercise.

Do we have enough proof of efficacy for antioxidants for pets and horses nowadays?

I think we have some pretty good evidence of the efficacy for nutritive antioxidants. If we take the simple ones, like the vitamins and pro-vitamins, and single-metabolite type molecules — like beta carotenes and alpha tocopherol — there’s a lot of research behind those.

He added:

Now, the ones where we’re starting to realize more are those products that would actually induce or turn on the endogenous antioxidant systems. For about 10 years, we have known there are certain compounds in functional foods that will actually induce an upregulation of the antioxidant systems in animals. We would see this as an increase in the activities in tissues of superoxide dismutase, or glutathione peroxidase or catalase. These can’t be explained by the presence of antioxidants in those compounds. Something in those ingredients are somehow taken into the body and acting on some signal transduction pathways and turning on or inducing these antioxidant systems in the body. This is very exciting, and we’re only starting to get at what the mechanisms could be right now. We don’t know what the pathways are, and we don’t even know what the key players are, whether they’re phenolics or whether they’re flavones or what have you.

How do you think the feed industry could transfer this knowledge and the beneficial action of antioxidants to their customer or final user, the pet or horse owner?

Knowledge transfer is very important when it comes to the basic science and the applied science, and, ultimately, to the consumer who is going to be feeding these products to their dogs, cats and horses.

He concluded:

It really comes down to what the science shows and translating science into language that people can understand, whether it’s people on the sales force, the veterinarians who are going to be recommending a product to their clients. Ultimately, there needs to be communication to the consumer of the product itself to the owner of the pets. Thus, the translation of information has to be targeted to the individuals involved. There’s a common knowledge base, but how you communicate that to the different tiers of individuals requires careful thought and synthesis into a form they can actually use.

Published Feb 4, 2024 | Updated Feb 20, 2024


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