Camelina oil is commonly fed to horses as an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. It is used to support weight gain, joint health, coat quality and general well-being.

Camelina oil is extracted from the seeds of the Camelina sativa plant, also known as false flax. It contains 35 – 40% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids are generally recognized for their health-promoting properties in both humans and animals. They are considered anti-inflammatory because these fatty acids decrease activation of the immune system.

But is camelina oil the best source of omega-3’s for your horse? Not all omega-3 fats are created equal; ALA must first get converted into other fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to be active in the horse’s body.

However, the overall conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is low in horses. Research shows that direct supplementation with EPA or DHA is the more effective option.

There have not been any research studies on camelina oil in horses to examine whether this supplement works. In this article, we will review the research available from other species as well as general research on omega-3 fatty acids to help you determine whether this supplement is appropriate for your horse.

Characteristics of Camelina Oil

Camelina Sativa Seeds for Horses

Camelina oil is extracted from Camelina sativa oilseeds. This plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family which includes flax, mustard plants, and cabbage among others.

Camelina sativa is native to Northern Europe and Central Asia but is now commonly grown in Europe, Canada and the United States. It has been cultivated by humans for over 3,000 years, both as a food source and for use in oil lamps.

Camelina oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids with 38% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content. ALA is the main omega-3 fatty acid found in plant oils. [23]

Vitamin E Content

Camelina oil also naturally contains vitamin E, which protects the fatty acids from oxidation and improves the shelf life of the product.

100 mL of camelina oil provides 150 IU of natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol).

This is higher than the amount found in flax oil and most other plant oils. It is one of the reasons why camelina oil is less susceptible to going rancid (peroxidation).

However, camelina still provides a relatively low amount of vitamin E. A typical 500 kg (1100 lb) horse should consume a minimum of 500 – 1000 IU per day to avoid deficiency, with optimal supplementation at levels between 2000 – 4000 IU per day.

Mad Barn’s W-3 Oil provides 1,500 IU of natural vitamin E per serving, sufficient to meet the needs of most horses. W-3 Oil also contains 1500 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

Below, we will discuss the advantages of supplementing with DHA compared to ALA from camelina oil.