Essential Amino Acids, You Say?

You know those funny words on the list of ingredients that you skip over because they are hard to say? Well those are really the most important part of the label, and here’s why: without the essential amino acids, what you put into your horse doesn’t matter. The presence of the hard-to-say ingredients is necessary for our equines’ digestive, skeletal and muscular systems to be able to utilize the nutrients that we are feeding them to their full intent. Without those ingredients, all you have is “expensive urine”. Let’s take a look at three essential amino acids and break it down to their functions.


Lysine’s job is to support a healthy nervous system and immune function. While being beneficial to health and performance, it is also required for optimum growth and recovery. Lysine is not produced by the body naturally and can only be obtained through diet, however it plays a critical role in sustaining healthy performance.


Also called the “immune booster” of the essential amino acids, Threonine is a natural source of sulphur and vital to life as it aids in proper healing and recovery. This amino acid is ESSENTIAL in the early stages of life to develop normal metabolism and growth. It also supports healthy liver function as well as supporting hoof, coat and hair health. On top of this, Threonine is a factor in antioxidant production. Again, the body does not produce Threonine, and thus it must be supplemented through food.



After Lysine, Methionine is the second most deficient amino acid in a horse’s diet. Methionine is a building block of protein, and assists in wound healing and recovery from injury. It supports liver function by helping the liver to process fat in the body, and helps build strong bones and tooth enamel. Methionine also plays a role in cardiovascular functions as well as the central nervous and immune systems. The body’s connective tissues and muscles are in need of Methionine to help them stay strong and recover properly.

The horse’s body needs these essential amino acids in its diet to build protein, and most often they are not sourced at the recommended levels through their forage.

What are the recommended levels?

The National Research Council Nutrient Requirements of Horses recommends that DAILY a horse requires 10,000 mg of Lysine, 5,000 mg Threonine and 5,000 mg of Methionine. All three of these essential amino acids supplied at these levels will ensure all the systems within your horse work together and all the other nutrients they receive will be absorbed properly. So check your labels, and make sure what you’re feeding your horse is going where it should be and not being passed out the back end.

Essential Amino Acids You Say - Energy Equine Veterinary



Core Balance Equine Nutrition, “Nutrient Requirements of Horses”, National Research Council, Published 2007