Why feed nucleotides?
Nucleotides are the molecules that make up the structural units of RNA and DNA. They are seen as conditionally essential nutrients and are vital for overall health of the horse. Low levels are found within the diet, and a number can be recycled from dead cells; however while this level of nucleotides meets the maintenance requirements for a healthy animal, an ill, stressed or high performing horse has a much greater requirement, and the dietary supplementation of nucleotides helps ensure this conditionally essential nutrient is not deficient.
Nucleotides are also useful in helping the body fight bacterial and viral infections. Due to the increased level of cell replication that has been seen following inclusion of nucleotides in the diet; their addition can also be of benefit post injury, particularly when new cells are required, such as muscle and tendon damage. The improvements in oxygen supply to the tissues may also help contribute to the repair and recovery of damaged cells.
The inclusion of nucleotides in the diet has numerous performance related benefits, including extra long-term endurance in training and competition, the support of oxygen carrying and uptake capability due to faster red blood cell development and facilitation, and as a consequence of higher oxygen uptake, less lactate is produced, allowing horses to perform longer at these high levels.
The figure below shows the impact of stress and infection on the nucleotide pool in the body.