Chelated calcium - crucial nutrient or marketing hype?
In the UK we have been selling chelated calcium to the cage and aviary bird and small animal markets since 1994. In 2009 we launched it into the horse market having somewhat serendipitously found out it had calming benefits on horses. We took out a patent to protect what seemed like a really unusual technology. Inevitable with something this new the academic scientists haven't thought of it first. Indeed the chelated calcium molecules are invisible to the techniques used to study calcium ion channels (an area that has attracted billions of dollars of funding from Big Pharma).
With this history we are regularly attacked for not being "scientifically proven". Of course science doesn't ever "prove" anything. A real scientist, when confronted with something that doesn't meet his/her expectations should respond by questioning their current understanding and developing a new hypothesis to test. That is what has driven our R&D over the past decade. We now have loads of theories and ideas but we don't have the millions required to fund fundamental research. So we, and our customers, have to rely on our experience and that of the many thousands of happy customers to see just how best to use chelated calcium in the context of horse diets.
We are proud of the fact that in 2014 we won the FSB/WorldPay National Business Innovation award for the way we leverage our close customer relationships into our R&D programme. And we are proud of the work we have done since that has refined our offering and developed innovative nutritional approaches to horse nutrition:
In 2012 we were invited back to Australia (we are Australians) to see if chelated calcium might help oxalate affected horses that were not responding well enough to traditional calcium supplements. It worked brilliantly well so we entered the market there with locally manufactured product. BREAK FREE was so successful that other players started to claim chelated calcium as a key component in the "Big Head" products. Sadly some had none and others had only tiny, token amounts in their formulations. This hasn't stopped some firms making a big noise about chelated calcium. So the attack on our business in Australia was from firms that effectively claimed to breach our patent but in reality were not. I guess that is a more flattering approach than in Britain but it does mean that hundreds or thousands of horse owners think they have used chelated calcium when actually they haven't.
The reality is that this is a nutrient with virtually no academic research behind it. Our Australian competitors talk about its high bioavailability and protection from oxalates. Whilst appealing, our research doesn't support these ideas so we do regard that as marketing hype with no basis in any form of trials or research.
Our view is that chelated calcium is a nutrient in its own right that seems to assist cells all over the body and part of that involves improving calcium management. It is also frequently deficient in diets whether the horse is grazing low or high calcium pastures or even low or high oxalate pastures (all of our UK sales are to horses on low oxalate diets and it helps these horses enormously). But with no independent academic studies we have to rely entirely on our own investigations. See the "Missing Link" articles for most detail. Or the article that explains what chelated calcium is.
The links below take you to some articles discussing chelated calcium. We hope you will find them of interest. There is a lot more in the oxalate section of our Australian website for those readers in that country.