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Health Benefits of Nucleotides for Horses

Yeast products are an excellent source of nucleotides, which are the structural components of DNA and RNA. Nucleotides play a vital role for the intestinal tract, which relies on continuous cell division to remain healthy.

Nucleotides are critical for digestive health of equines as they:

  • are essential to create new cells and improve the efficiency of cell repair
  • help maintain a healthy intestinal tract
  • speed up recovery times from illness or injury

Nucleotides Support Primary Functions of the GI Tract

Although the equine GI tract is covered in mucus, the acids and enzymes nevertheless take a toll on the enterocytes (absorptive cells) lining the gut wall. The entire intestinal lining is replaced every three days by cells that are constantly dividing.

Cell division throughout the gut requires the replication of millions of DNA molecules every second. Each individual DNA molecule is comprised of several billion nucleotides. This process represents an impressive amount of energy-intensive chemical synthesis. Clearly, maintaining an adequate level of nucleotides is a major, ongoing issue for the digestive system.

Thus, adding nucleotides to a horse’s diet:

  • improves cell turnover, repair and growth
  • allows the body to down-regulate the synthesis of nucleotides
  • supports the intestinal lining in the GI tract
  • enhances enterocyte growth for greater nutrient absorption

Dietary Nucleotides Improve Efficiency of Cell Growth and Repair

In general, DNA is synthesized through complicated de novo pathways that create fresh nucleotides from scratch rather than using existing material. However, in the presence of dietary nucleotides, the body can down-regulate DNA synthesis and instead use an enzyme named HGPRT to scavenge the intact nucleotides, improving the efficiency of cell repair and conserving energy.

In addition to ongoing maintenance, cell division is critical for repairing damaged tissue, including ulcers. In times of stress, dietary nucleotides have proven to be beneficial.

Dietary Nucleotides Increase Mucosal Thickness

Nucleotides optimize the natural protective mechanisms of the mucosal lining, helping to maintain a healthy GI tract. Supplementing a horse’s diet with nucleotides increases mucosal thickness and protein levels through increased availability of genetic precursors. It also speeds up intestinal recovery after chronic diarrhea and intestinal damage.

Dietary Nucleotides Increase Growth of Enterocytes

Dietary nucleotides have been shown to increase the maturity and growth of normal enterocytes, which are intestinal absorptive cells responsible for nutrient uptake and pathogen defense.

Nucleotides Enhance Immunity and Stabilize the Digestive System

Adding nucleotides to a horse’s diet modulates immunologic mechanisms and stabilizes the digestive system. Nucleotides have a beneficial effect on the intestinal microflora, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting pathogens. Harmful species of bacteria are suppressed as nucleotides increase the amount of helpful microflora competing for resources in the digestive system.

Nucleotides also assist with the activation and proliferation of lymphocytes. Nucleotides help these white blood cells perform their primary function – to produce antibodies to attack invading pathogens and destroy cells already invaded by microbes. Keeping these cells functioning properly ensures that the horse’s immune system is actively warding off potential threats.

Nucleotides Support Horses’ Digestive Health

Assess your horse’s health to determine if added digestive support may be beneficial for health and performance.


Bueno J, Torres A, Almendros A, Carmona R, Nunez MC and Gil A, (1994) Effect of dietary nucleotides on small intestinal repair after diarrhea. Histological and ultrastructural changes. Gut 35: 926-933.

Hales, N. Diet Supplement May Help Boost Immune System. American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 25th Clinical Congress in Chicago.

Lin, Cheng-mao. Effect of Dietary Nucleotide Supplementation on In Vivo and In Vitro Immune Function in Protein-Malnourished Mice. University of Florida. PhD. Dissertation. December 1995.

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