Why is There Iron in Tribute® Equine Nutrition Products?
The iron in Tribute® Equine Nutrition products is predominately coming from the base ingredients used.

Iron is a ubiquitous mineral and essentially every feedstuff, with the exception of pure fat, will contain some amount of iron. A feed tag may not list iron, but that does not mean the feed is iron-free. Rather, iron is not a nutrient that is required to be listed on horse feed tags.

Iron from forages and feedstuffs varies in availability and is generally low. Further fortification with a small (very very small!) amount of a bioavailable source of iron ensures that we are able to support the iron status of the horse.

The information floating around the internet about iron in the horse’s diet misinterprets the relationship between iron, specifically serum ferritin, and metabolic status.

Serum ferritin has been found to be a marker of insulin resistance in humans; however, research has also shown that dietary intake of iron does not affect the risk of development of insulin resistance in humans. Rather serum ferritin is high as a byproduct of the disease process.

The popular press articles that are cautioning against dietary iron in horses are based on a study completed at Michigan State University, published in 2012, that found high serum ferritin in horses with insulin resistance. This study DID NOT look at the impact of varying levels of dietary iron on serum ferritin status. There was NOT a nutrition component to this study. This study simply confirms what we know from human models, which is that high serum ferritin levels are a marker of insulin resistance in horses.

To date, there is no evidence that dietary iron impacts metabolic status in horses.

High dietary iron from forage sources can decrease availability of inorganic and some organic trace mineral molecules. To ensure that the horse’s trace minerals needs are met even in the presence of high forage iron we use an organic trace mineral that has been scientifically shown to improve absorption. You can find these on the tag of all Tribute® Equine Nutrition products listed as copper amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex and manganese amino acid complex.

Nicole Rambo, Ph.D.