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How does Paprika actually work to darken coats?

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  • #21
    Warning; it involves physics as well as biochem!

    I guess you do then.


    Okay a few factoids;
    there are basically two pigments in the hair of the horse Eumelanin which is black and phaeomelanin which is red or no melanin which is white. The pigments occur in microscopic granules and are laid down between the strands of Keratin which make up the hairshaft.

    The pigment granules are produced at the base of the hairshaft and can be laid down in the shaft in various different patterns (genetically controlled) .
    They can be all around the hair shaft, or just on one side (dilution gene) or just on the inner surface of the shaft (double dilution gene).

    Once laid down and the hair has grown out of the root bed, they cannot be added too, but they can be destroyed or altered by the action of chemicals or sunlight or both.

    The biochemical pathway which produces both pigments involves an enzyme that uses copper ions as an electron acceptor. Thus for the pigments to be produced fully there needs to be copper present in the cell.

    If the horse (or cow) is short of copper then the enzyme can't do it;s job and the pigments are produced slowly if at all and sometimes in a different form.
    So to ensure that the animal gets it's full dose of pigment synthsized you need to ensure a supply of copper in the diet.
    Paprika is rich in copper flavenoids, especially the Hungarian paprika.

    Thus as long as you feed a supplement rich in copper the hairs will get their full dose of pigment. BUT this only happens when the hairs are being produced as they grow, once they are grown, you cannot add any more pigment, you can only either lose it to the action of sunlight and or chemicals.
    So once the hair has grown you can improve the texture of the hair (more on that later) but not the content. You can add pigment to the outer layers as in dyeing, but not to the inner hair shaft.

    Part of the appearance of the color is not only where in the shaft the pigment granules lie but the refractive index of the scales that coat the outside of the hair shaft ( I warned you that there would be physics involved).
    Whene the hair is new and young the scales have a good supply of sebum, the oil which coats them and they have a high refractive index, the light gets bounced around within the hair shaft and the hairs appear darker and shinier.
    As the hairs age they lose the sebum, and the scales begin to peel away and the hair appears less shiny and lighter.
    So to help the hair keep it's refractive index you can
    a) give the horse a high fat diet which makes the little sebacous glands at the base of the hair produce more sebum, which coats the hairs and they appear darker and shinier (hence why Platinum Performance, a high fat supplement based on flax seed causes a darker coat).
    Or B) apply a conditioner with oils in it to the hairshaft. This will also cause the little scales to lie down flat and improve the refractive index.
    You can also apply a coating of conditioner with little tiny reflective scales in it these tiny scales add to the refractive index and make the hair shinier.

    But anything applied to the outside of the hair shaft is going to be temporary at best.
    Things on the inside last a bit longer.

    But the bottom line is to make a hair coat darker and shinier use a mix of copper and fat. The fat has an immediate effect the copper when the next coat change occurs.

    BTW if you eat a lot of Hungarian paprika your skin will get a darker shinier color as well, that's what the feed through fake tans are based on.
    Your hair will grow darker as well, but you'll see it first in the skin.

    Hope this makes sense.
    Yours
    MW
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.

    www.knabstruppers4usa.com

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    • #22
      Thank you Melyni. I've always wondered about that. I will be well-armed the next time someone asks.

      So there's nothing special about the paprikia per se, it's just a way of delivering copper??? Is there some synergistic effect b/w the copper ion and something else in the paprika? Or, could you just feed your horse another source of copper (II), such as the nitrate, and have it work? OK, I'm assuming (II)-cupric and not (I)-cuprous.
      The Evil Chem Prof

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      • #23
        Please

        Originally posted by Melyni View Post
        Do you really want the chemical explanation?
        It's pretty technical and boring!
        MW
        Please tell us, please.
        People tell me it will bring back the dapples in my grey and white horse.

        Comment


        • #24
          I KNEW there was a scientific explanation for why copper is a necessary component

          Thanks!!
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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          • #25
            Before and after photos, with paprika. The first one is of Oliver the day I brought him in five years ago. Yes, he was a reedy unattractive little thing. And a photo of the difference it makes. Edited to say that he was still in a half-covered pipe stall, the only difference was a tablespoon of paprika every day (and the one where he is biting the shoe was taken at the height of summer).
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #26
              Melyni you rock! I'm a biologist by training and I love it when I actually get scientific explanations for folk remedies

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                Thank you Melyni. I've always wondered about that. I will be well-armed the next time someone asks.

                So there's nothing special about the paprikia per se, it's just a way of delivering copper??? Is there some synergistic effect b/w the copper ion and something else in the paprika? Or, could you just feed your horse another source of copper (II), such as the nitrate, and have it work? OK, I'm assuming (II)-cupric and not (I)-cuprous.
                Actually it really needs to be an organic source, such as an organic copper salt or a copper chelate. Paprika works well since it contains an organic copper source. The inorganic salts, such as copper nitrate or sulphate, will work eventually but they are not very palatable nor easy to digest.
                MW
                Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                New edition of book is out:
                Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
                  Please tell us, please.
                  People tell me it will bring back the dapples in my grey and white horse.
                  To restore dapples I'd start with a high fat supplement. BUT it gonna depend on the age of he horse. the grey gene has a mutation that causes it to lose its ability to synthesize the black pigment. This loss of ability comes on with age, which is why grey horses lose their color with age.
                  Thus the loss of dapples may be due to aging of the horse rather than low copper.
                  It that case they can't be restored, sorry.
                  MW
                  for example here is a paper on the graying gene.

                  Nature Genetics
                  Published online: 20 July 2008 | doi:10.1038/ng.185

                  A cis-acting regulatory mutation causes premature hair graying and susceptibility to melanoma in the horse

                  Gerli Rosengren Pielberg1, Anna Golovko1,12, Elisabeth Sundström2,12, Ino Curik3, Johan Lennartsson4, Monika H Seltenhammer5, Thomas Druml6, Matthew Binns7, Carolyn Fitzsimmons1, Gabriella Lindgren2, Kaj Sandberg2, Roswitha Baumung6, Monika Vetterlein8, Sara Strömberg9, Manfred Grabherr10, Claire Wade10,11, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh1,10, Fredrik Pontén9, Carl-Henrik Heldin4, Johann Sölkner6 Leif Andersson1,2

                  In horses, graying with age is an autosomal dominant trait associated with a high incidence of melanoma and vitiligo-like depigmentation. Here we show that the Gray phenotype is caused by a 4.6-kb duplication in intron 6 of STX17 (syntaxin-17) that constitutes a cis-acting regulatory mutation. Both STX17 and the neighboring NR4A3 gene are overexpressed in melanomas from Gray horses. Gray horses carrying a loss-of-function mutation in ASIP (agouti signaling protein) had a higher incidence of melanoma, implying that increased melanocortin-1 receptor signaling promotes melanoma development in Gray horses. The Gray horse provides a notable example of how humans have cherry-picked mutations with favorable phenotypic effects in domestic animals.
                  ------------------------------------------------------
                  To obtain a copy of the entire paper, visit this link:
                  Nature Genetics Article on Gray <http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ng.185.html>
                  Last edited by Melyni; Jul. 29, 2008, 08:36 AM. Reason: spelling!
                  Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                  Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                  New edition of book is out:
                  Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                  www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    What other sources of organic copper? I guess no matter what you do the coat will fade will 24/7 turn out.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by rmh View Post
                      What other sources of organic copper?
                      I used Paprika one year with no results, and I was feeding quite a bit (and yes, it was Hungarian ) The only thing I have found to work, for my one horse, is a Dynamite product, which has chelates of copper, zinc, and manganese. I have tried to duplicate the amounts of those minerals in other products, even with a custom Horsetech product, and it didn't work

                      I guess no matter what you do the coat will fade will 24/7 turn out.
                      IME, yes, you still get some fading if the fading genetics are there.
                      ______________________________
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        What is the Dynamite product. Mine must have a dominant fading gene.LOL

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Melyni, thank you for explaining that in a way that even those of use who are not overly technical can understand. Very nicely done!

                          Two thumbs up.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Terrible!

                            My black mare looks like a buckskin! I started her on the Paprika probably in April and she looks like a nastly blonde with black roots!!! She is wicked bleached out. The only difference is when I don't use it she gets really red looking so it's more whether I want a blonde or a redhead. Either way she looks gross!
                            To ride or not to ride; what a stupid question!

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Coobie View Post
                              I started her on the Paprika probably in April
                              If you read what Melyni posted above you will see that you have to start them on the paprika before the hair coat changes, so before they start growing their summer coat, for it to even have a chance of working.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                COOL - I love scientific explanations for this stuff.

                                Paprika isn't cheap - to ensure the horse is receiving enough copper in his diet is the most cost effective method to supplement with a separate product or buy paprika in bulk somewhere?

                                (I don't have to worry about drug testing)
                                Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                -Rudyard Kipling

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Coobie View Post
                                  My black mare looks like a buckskin! I started her on the Paprika probably in April and she looks like a nastly blonde with black roots!!! She is wicked bleached out. The only difference is when I don't use it she gets really red looking so it's more whether I want a blonde or a redhead. Either way she looks gross!
                                  You can't change the color of the hair that's already there, unless you dye it.

                                  To affect the integrity of the hair, you have to start before it grows in, as Melyni stated.

                                  This means that you need to start in Jan, Feb at the very latest, and continue through the Summer.
                                  ______________________________
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Affordable source of Copper?

                                    Melyni,

                                    Do you know of any affordable organic sources of copper, other than Paprika? I've fed it to my horses, with little improvement.

                                    Thanks.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Sources of Organic copper

                                      Originally posted by GallopHer View Post
                                      Melyni,

                                      Do you know of any affordable organic sources of copper, other than Paprika? I've fed it to my horses, with little improvement.

                                      Thanks.
                                      YOU can buy supplements with organic copper in them.
                                      I make one called LinPro
                                      and Dynamite make one
                                      ANd I believe the Platinum Performance has organic copper in it as well. Might need to check on that.
                                      There may well be others but those ones I do know about.

                                      And as the fading in the sun, the black pigment is more prone to fading so if the horse has a high percentage of black it will fade.
                                      Red pigment is more resistant to fading but it will also fade eventually.
                                      So yes if you leave your horse out 24/7 with no shelter (or if they won't go into a shelter) then any pigment will fade. And you need to feed the copper while the coat is forming, once it's there it's too late.

                                      Also don't forget the fat as well, fat will enhance the color in the coat and help to keep it darker, horse on high fat diets fade more slowly than horses on low fat diets.

                                      Good Luck
                                      Yours
                                      MW
                                      Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                                      Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                                      New edition of book is out:
                                      Horse Nutrition Handbook.

                                      www.knabstruppers4usa.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I was feeding some fat in the winter. When spring came he needed to lose weight. Now he is on 1lb. of ration balancer, flax and grass. He wears a feeding muzzle half the day. He was a beautiful dark chocolate at the end of May. By the end of June he looked like a beach bum!

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Melyni, do you know the science behind the non-fading blacks?
                                          ______________________________
                                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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