Which Optimum wellness formula is best for my horse or dog?
BioStar offers a range of wellness formulas with vitamins and minerals, called Optimum. With so many choices, we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right Optimum formula for your horse or dog.
A brief history of Optimum
When the first Optimum wellness formula was designed in 2008, it was unlike any other multivitamin and mineral for horses on the market. The original Optimum is a bar, like a cookie, that can be fed by hand or added to feed. Unlike other equine multivitamin supplements, Optimum was designed to focus on bioavailability by providing horses with nutrients from real whole foods. To best maintain their raw whole food state for maximum absorption, the bars are dehydrated rather than cooked.
We learned several things about the Optimum bars: some horses preferred a powdered form, so we began grinding our Optimum bars into powder. Commercial mill grinders are nothing like a food processor or even a Vitamix blender – the process is more like having a hungry, noisy velociraptor in the production area. Luckily no human fingers have been lost in the grinding process. Thus, Optimum powder was born. Using the ground bars as a base, we began expanding the line by adding specific ingredients for additional support to make Optimum Senior, Optimum with Joint Support, and Optimum Senior with Joint Support. As we sought to further provide support for horses with a multitude of individual needs, we released Optimum HW for metabolic horses and Optimum GI for ulcer support.
Another early observation was that dogs hanging around the barn were stealing Optimum bars out of the feed buckets, as were some crafty raccoons raiding feed rooms. Thus, Optimum K9 was born, taking a cue from so many of you who told us about your dogs’ love of the horses’ Optimum bars. Of course, we had to tweak it a little, including the inclusion of desiccated beef liver for protein and B-complex vitamins, including B12.
The Evolution of Optimum 2.0
Doing nutrition consultations for horse owners revealed that more precise mineral support was needed. Upon reviewing countless hay analyses, some hays were substantially low in magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese. I was very concerned by the iron content in some of the hays I was reviewing.
Through a friend who is an expert in the human supplement industry, I learned of a mineral company in Utah, which specializes in “caging” mineral molecules with amino acids from rice. This means the mineral molecule is encased in protein for high bioavailability. This encasement is very similar to what plants do when they uptake minerals from soil: they chelate (bind) minerals to free amino acids.
With this mineral company on hand, BioStar now had the opportunity to customize a full-range of proteinated mineral complexes. Most equine supplement companies only use proteinates for one or two minerals (copper or zinc, for example). It’s very expensive to use proteinates for macro and micro minerals, yet proteinates are the most bioavailable for the body. Proteinates mimic the plant-chelated minerals the horses take in when they eat grass or hay, unlike carbonates and oxide forms of minerals, which are just ground up rocks. Even plants can’t use rocks without first chelating them with amino acids.
Armed with this research, wellness formula Optimum 2.0 was born, representing a new standard in full-spectrum bioavailable minerals for horses.
BioStar’s entire Optimum line does not contain added iron because too much iron can lead to oxidative stress. The iron in our Optimum supplements is naturally occurring in the ingredients we use.
Which Optimum best suits my horse?
Original Optimum EQ (bars)
- Our original whole food wellness formula includes antioxidant-rich fruits and mineral-dense organic spirulina.
- Popular with owners who want to reduce the number of supplement powders in their horses’ feed buckets, and for those who like to give the bars as a nutritious treat.
- Can be ground into powder form, on request.
- BioStar’s wellness formula with full spectrum macro- and micro-mineral proteinates to deliver the highest bioavailability possible.
- Provides 34% protein, including essential amino acids and the BCAAs.
- Includes vitamins, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and fulvic and humic acids.
- Recommended for horses and ponies of all ages
- Can be used as a ration balancer.
- Combines all the benefits of Optimum 2.0 with extra support for joints with green-lipped mussels as an important source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) including chondroitin and glucosamine.
- Supports your horse’s own production of glucosamine sulfate from the glutamine and sulfur naturally present in kale and cabbage.
- Recommended for horses that need joint support in addition to a daily wellness formula.
- Provides targeted support for senior horses, including 60 billion CFUs of active yeast probiotic to support healthy digestion.
- Provides organic Holy Basil to support the glandular and circulatory systems under stress.
- Supports healthy adrenal gland function and helps promote healthy cortisol levels.
- Includes the same foundational minerals, vitamins, protein, and cofactors as the other Optimum 2.0 formulas.
- Recommended for horses in their teens and twenties.
- Combines the benefits of Optimum Senior and Optimum JS wellness formulas plus EPA and DHA for omega 3 augmentation.
- Recommended for older horses that need joint support combined with bioavailable minerals and vitamins.
Optimum HW (Healthy Weight)
- Features Crominex®3+ to help regulate sugar and fat metabolism, kelp for thyroid support, and astaxanthin for antioxidant action.
- Includes proteinate minerals, essential amino acids, B-complex vitamins including B12, plus astragalus for immune support.
- A low NSC of 9.8%
- Recommended for Insulin Resistant (IR) horses or easy keepers, and other horses with metabolic challenges.
- Provides our proteinate mineral blend, along with vitamins, antioxidants, highly digestible protein, and essential fatty acids.
- Features well-researched gastric support ingredients including medical-grade pectin, sunflower lecithin, and Lion’s Mane mushroom for beta-glucan content.
- Recommended for horses who have had gastric or hindgut ulcers, horses currently recovering from ulcers, horses with sensitive GI tracts, and as a preventative for horses under stress.
Which Optimum best suits my dog?
- With spirulina, hemp meal and seeds, sea vegetables, desiccated beef liver, carrots, coconut, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, kale, and sesame seeds.
- Includes apples, bananas, and oranges for antioxidant support.
- Available in cubes you can give by hand, or in powder form.
- Dehydrated, not cooked, to maintain the integrity of the ingredients.
- Recommended for all dogs over 12 weeks old, and can be used with kibble, raw, or home-cooked meals.
- Includes Holy Basil for stress support, a blend of Traditional Chinese medicinal mushrooms including Cordyceps for the immune system, and Reishi, a tonic to help the body maintain health and vitality.
- Includes GI tract support with three probiotic strains, providing 500 million CFUs per serving.
- RBGH-free bovine colostrum helps support the immune system and provide cellular support.
- Recommended for senior dogs or any dog in need of additional immune support.
- A whopping 56% of dogs in the US are overweight, so Optimum K9 HW provides Crominex®3+, a patented extract that supports carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.
- Provides medicinal mushrooms to support the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA), plus spirulina, kale, and blueberries to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Recommended for any dog that would benefit from proper glucose metabolism or circulation support.
Optimum is made in Gordonsville, Virginia.
Unlike some supplement companies that have their products made by co-packers, Optimum is made in house, in BioStar’s facility in Gordonsville, Virginia. This is important because we have 100% control of the raw materials: from farm to table. We know where the ingredients come from, how they are harvested and processed. Our experienced production team keeps a watchful eye on the entire process from start to finish. There is a spirit of warmth to the production area that can’t be replicated in massive impersonal facilities where huge runs of products are churned out, often for multiple companies.
Your horses and dogs matter to us.
With all the choices horse and dog owners have in wellness supplements, reading the ingredient list is as important as reading the guaranteed analysis to know what you’re really giving your animals. The guaranteed analysis is only one part of the big picture of your horse or dog’s health.
At BioStar, real ingredients matter. Bioavailability is not just a marketing term, it is a precise measurement of absorption– Which we take very seriously.
Your horses and dogs come first at BioStar. As new research emerges, we will continue to tweak or add formulas to provide the best support from your beloved animals, from elite equine athletes to canine couch potatoes, and everything in between.
About the Author: With over 30 years experience in the equine and human supplement industry, Tigger Montague knows nutrition from the synthetic side as well as the whole food side. She started BioStar US in 2006 with formulas she created in her kitchen. Before she started the company, she was an avid rider and competitor with eventing and show jumping, until she got hooked on dressage in the late 1980’s. She has competed on horses she’s owned and trained all the way from training level to Grand Prix.