- Best Trait = pelleted for ease of feeding
- Worst Trait = poor company communication
Consider this product if…
- You can not provide a liquid or powder form of a joint supplement.
- You want the cheapest cost per 1,000 mg of glucosamine.
- You appreciate its availability online.
Why Review this Product?
Joint supplements are the most ubiquitous horse supplements available on the market today. According to survey results published in 2017, over one third of all equine supplement sales are for joint protective products (Swirsley et al., 2017). Sifting through the plethora of products available is worse than finding a needle in a haystack, and that doesn’t even start to consider the confounding research findings! The list of ingredients and combinations of ingredients is endless, so for this review, I’m going to narrow my search down to joint supplements that meet the following criteria…
- Ingredients have been researched in horses and show positive results.
- It’s a company that I’ve heard of and has been around for a while.
- Contains at least 5,000 mg of glucosamine (any form)
- Contains chondroitin sulfate
- Contains methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM)
The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a WONDERFUl website that I’d like to LINK HERE titled “Joint Health Supplements: Information and How to Read a Product Label“. The AAEP suggests a very similar methodology to Rate My Horse Supplement when reviewing joint supplements, so I will refrain from duplicating that information here.
Company Information & Communication
Absorbine failed to respond to my email questions within 7 days. I have yet to hear back details about their safety and quality standards, credentials of the creator, or peer- reviewed evidence to support their claims. However, I did appreciate how easy it was to find information on their website. I can not give them higher than 2 stars until I hear back.
“Administer 75g once daily” for horses states the Directions for Use on the Flex+Max label. I don’t know about you, but that makes me cringe deeply! Why would I feed the same scoop to a 600 lb senior pony on maintenance, the same dosage as a 1,200 lb elite athlete?
On Course Equine Nutrition’s FeedFLIP rating system was named to describe my technique of reading feed labels- I start at the bottom. The bottom of most feed and supplement labels describes the company and any caution statements. Then, you move up to the feeding directions. I believe strongly that the most valuable part of any feed or supplement is the feeding directions. Not only can you ascertain the true purpose of the product, but you can also tell how well the ingredients are understood depending on the level of detail. You can assume how best to see the results that you want. You can calculate daily cost. The feeding directions must be determined before a nutritionist can formulate the product, so like the nutritionist, start there.
The active ingredients in Absorbine’s Flex+Max include flaxseed, rice bran, glucosamine HCl, MSM, low molecular weight chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and Boswellia serrata. Less than 75 grams (2.6 ounces) of flax and rice bran to any size horse is insignificant, so I’m not sure why they put them in the “active” ingredient list, but they do make the product sound fancy, don’t they!? The important joint ingredients, however, are great!
Absorbine is using the flax, rice bran and alfalfa meal as carriers, the calcium propionate as a preservative, and fenugreek as the flavoring all of which are satisfactory. When powders and liquids are not feasible due to feed room limitations, this could be a good pelleted product to keep buckets clean and improve palatability.
One scoop serving of this product will give your horse 10,000 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 5,000 mg of MSM, and 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate. Compared to other similar joint supplements, these guarantees are good and higher than average.
A ten pound bucket of Flex+Max Optimized Pellets will set you back $89.95 on most websites with free shipping. This is about 60 days worth according to the feeding directions, so it will cost you $1.50 per day or about 15 cents per 1,000 mg of glucosamine. If we only look at the cost per day, then it may seem average, but the cost per 1,000 mg of glucosamine is lower than average.
I am cautiously optimistic about this joint supplement- cautious because the company has failed to address my concerns about product safety and quality control, but optimistic about the value. I am also suspicious of pelleted forms of joint supplementation due to potential stability issues of the ingredients under high heat and pressure. If I find the right peer-reviewed evidence to support or refute this concern, I will update this review.