Vitamin E: An Equine Essential
This unsung antioxidant is vital for working horses. Heres how to ensure yours gets enough in the form that works best
Lets face it: Vitamin E isnt usually the first thing that springs to mind when considering supplements for performance horses.
Yet this plant-derived antioxidant often touted as a youthening agent in human productsis also critically important for equines in work.
And heres the thing: Where and how your horse gets it matters more than you might realize.
Vitamin E functions as a primary antioxidant in horsesbut what exactly does that mean?
According to equine nutritionist Katie Young, Ph.D., oxidation is a part of the normal metabolic process in which horses utilize dietary nutrients to produce the energy used for all functionsmaintenance, performance, growth and reproduction. However, a natural byproduct of oxidation are free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells if left unchecked. Without adequate reserves of natural antioxidants, working horses may suffer increased muscle soreness or stiffness after exercise, not to mention prolonged recovery times.
But I have fresh, green pasture! you might say. Isnt that enough? While Vitamin E is indeed abundant in lush forage, most working horses dont have 24/7 access to it. Even for field-kept individuals, pasture quality varies considerably by location, season and other factors. Not surprisingly, Vitamin E activity is even more unstable in hay.
Influence Of Specific Management Practices On Blood Selenium Vitamin E And Beta
Department of Clinical Sciences, Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Department of Clinical Sciences, Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Selenium or alpha-tocopherol deficiency can cause neuromuscular disease. Beta-carotene has limited documentation in horses.
How Long Can I Give My Horse 10000 Iu Of Vitamin E Daily
Large amounts of vitamin E are oftentimes recommended for horses experiencing certain problems, including equine protozoal myeloencephalitis and other neurological problems like equine motor neuron disease and equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy . Without knowing why your horse was placed on this amount of vitamin E, I cannot give a detailed response and will therefore speak generally.
Nutrient Requirements of Horses, produced by the National Research Council, states that relatively high intakes of vitamin E do not appear to be toxic to horses however, an upper safe limit is noted at 1,000 IU/kg dry matter fed in other species. That amount would be 10,000 IU per day for a 1,100-lb horse consuming 22 lb of forage and concentrate per day.
Although large amounts of vitamin E have not been shown to cause problems, it is probably not necessary, depending upon the specific product. When supplementing with a synthetic form of vitamin E , more international units of vitamin E will be needed to ensure it is available to the horse. Natural-source vitamin E is five times more bioavailable than synthetic forms. The natural-source vitamin E product Nano-E features nanodispersion technology, making it highly bioavailable and effective at raising vitamin E serum levels.
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Vitamins And Minerals 101
A vitamin is an organic compound that’s essential for normal growth and metabolism, and is required in small quantities in the diet because it can’t be synthesized or produced by the organism . Vitamins have diverse jobs when it comes to keeping your horse’s body functioning. For example, vitamin D aids in absorption of calcium from your horse’s small intestine, while vitamin E scavenges for damaging ?free radicals, and helps to protect the body’s cell membranes.
In contrast to vitamins, minerals have a definition separate from their role in body functioning. A mineral is an inorganic substance that’s stable at room temperature and has an ordered arrangement of atoms in simpler terms, it’s a solid crystal. Almost 5,000 minerals are known to exist, and of those, a relatively small number are required in the diet of your horse to make sure his body functions the way it should. Certain minerals are critical, such as potassium, which is key to keeping your horse’s muscles contracting and his heart pumping!
Vitamin E Deficiency In Horses
In horses, Vitamin E and selenium deficiency often occur together and show similar signs. Suspected deficiency should be confirmed by a veterinarian.
Some non-specific signs that might suggest a vitamin E deficiency are:
- Muscle soreness or frequent tying-up after exercise
- Slow recovery from illness
- More time spent lying down
To determine whether your horse is deficient in vitamin E, a blood test can be done that measures the serum concentration of alpha-tocopherol. The following is the range of results:
- Adequate: 2 ug/ml
- : 1.5-2 ug/ml
- Deficient: 1.5 ug/ml
Not all horses that have low levels of vitamin E in their blood will show outward signs of deficiency. Factors like breed and age can affect levels in serum without necessarily impacting health.
For example, within the adequate range Thoroughbreds have been reported to have lower levels than other breeds .
It is normal for foals, weanlings and yearlings to have lower levels than adult horses, but foals should be monitored for neurological conditions that may develop due to deficiency.
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What Is Natural Vitamin E For Horses
Our Natural horse vitamin E is sold as powdered 25% vitamin E acetate adsorbate on silica and provides 250mg of natural RRR-alpha-tocopherol per gram equivalent to 500 IU per gram.
Vitamin E cannot be synthesized by the horse therefore, it is considered an essential nutrient. Vitamin E is found in abundant amounts in green and growing horse pasture however between 30 80% of vitamin E is lost between cutting and baling of horse forage and this loss is continued while the forage is in storage due to the fragile nature of vitamin E. Winter horse pasture contains little to none of this vitamin so supplementation to equines is essential.
Many research studies have shown that vitamin E is likely to be deficient in the diets of horses that do not have access to continual grazing on fresh green grass, or those grazing on winter pasture. Researchers are continuing to examine the role of vitamin E in horse health, but in agriculture it has long been known that increased supplementation of vitamin E supports immune function in cattle. Research now suggests much higher levels of horse vitamin E supplementation than is commonly contained in many horse feed stuffs will be beneficial to maintaining and supporting equine health.
Performances horses with demanding workloads, growing horses and seniors or horses suffering from problems can be exposed to increased levels of oxidative stress and therefore may require significantly higher vitamin E level in their diets.
Vitamin E Toxicity In Horses
Risk of toxicity or complications from high-dose vitamin E supplementation is considered low in horses.
According to the NRC, the upper safe diet concentration is 20 IU / kg of body weight. For a 500kg horse the upper limit is 10,000 IU.
Above this level some issues might arise including problems with blood clotting and bone mineralization. Vitamin E supplementation at 10,000 IU or higher might interfere with vitamin A absorption.
High-dose vitamin E supplementation should be done on the advice of a veterinarian or equine nutritionist.
Mineral and vitamin levels in your horses diet should be adjusted in consultation with a qualified equine nutritionist. You can and one of our nutritionists will be happy to provide a complementary evaluation.
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Experts In Equine Nutrition
Every product in the Ranvet range has been developed to meet a horses most specific need at any given time, be it in a training environment or on a breeding farm. Having pioneered the formulation of specific medications and dietary supplements for horses, the company is now recognised as a leader in the areas of equine health and nutrition.
Benefits Of Vitamin E For Horses
There are many benefits of vitamin E for horses. But the following are some of the top benefits:
1. Vitamin E helps ease muscle soreness and stiffness. Especially in exercising horses. It helps them sustain or keep high levels of activity.
2. With enough intake of this vitamin the muscles of your horse can easily recover from exercise. This means it can support athletic performance.
3. Horses having enough vitamin E intake have lesser tendency of experiencing chronic tying up.
4. This vitamin boosts the immune system of your horse. It helps kill the bacteria capacity of the immune cells. Vitamin E helps your horse recover from illness quickly.
5. Vitamin E helps horses with insulin resistance. Taking it 1000 IU per day can help improve insulin sensitivity.
6. Having enough antioxidant defenses can lessen stress and health issues. Especially if your horse is usually traveling or in competition. It helps your horse remain healthy and always ready for competition.
7. Vitamins E can help your horse if he is having muscular disorder.
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Vitamin E And Selenium Deficiency
The symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency are muscle damage and yellow fat disease. A shortage of selenium not only causes muscle problems and yellow fat disease but also a low immune system. Due to a shortage of these antioxidants free radicals are not neutralised and damage can occur in the cell. The ageing process is a good example of this.
You can identify if you horse has muscle damage by muscle pain, stiffness and if your horse takes too long to recover after an intense workout. If you are unsure whether your horse is predisposed to muscle acidification after hard labour, you can give thePavo Eplussupplement preventively to support the muscles. Horses that are known to have stiffness and muscle pain after exercise, benefit more from Pavo MuscleCare.
Can Vitamin E Be Over
Vitamin E is not toxic at high doses. However, more research is needed on its potential to interfere with beta-carotene absorption. Your horse converts beta-carotene to vitamin A. Therefore, when supplementing high doses of vitamin E, it is best to offer adequate Vitamin A until we know more about this potential interaction.
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Special Note: The Need For Thiamine For Horses Eating Bracken
Bracken produces a substance called thiaminase which breaks down Thiamine and causes a serious clinical deficiency. This can result in muscle weakness progressing to incoordination like staggers, degeneration of motor nerves and serious degeneration of the horse. Veterinary intervention is required, as a high dose of injectable thiamine may need to be given.
Can Too Much Vitamin E Cause Diarrhea In Horses
Remember, supplements are not without risk, especially supplementing fat soluble vitamins. How much is too much and what does Vitamin E toxicity look like? In people an overdose can cause muscular weakness, fatigue, diarrhea and bleeding. The possibility of bleeding is of the most concern in supplemented horses.
What Vitamin E Does For Horses
Vitamin E plays a role in many functions throughout the body, but it is known primarily as a potent antioxidant, meaning it binds with and limits the damage caused by free radicals, which are atoms or molecules with an odd number of electrons. Because they have an unstable electrical charge, free radicals tend to steal electrons from other molecules to become stable. But when the original molecule loses its electron, it becomes unstable and in turn tries to steal another electron from somewhere else. All this activity not only damages the molecules that have their electrons stolen, it may inhibit their ability to do their jobs within the body. If there are too many free radicals present in the tissue, this chain reaction can run out of control and injure cell walls, DNA and other vital structures.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of the utilization of fats, carbohydrates and proteins as fuel. They do have beneficial functions they can help neutralize bacterial or viral threats, for example. But when the number of free radicals in the tissues climbs too highsuch as in the muscles after a horse exercisesthe body deploys antioxidants to bind with them, breaking the cascade.
to read about five diseases linked to Vitamin E deficiency in horses.
How To Supplement Vitamin E For Horses
How to supplement can get a little confusing. In nutrition, vitamin E generally refers to alpha-tocopherol but the term vitamin E covers a family of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols.
Alpha-tocopherol is the form active in the body as an antioxidant. Natural on a supplement may mean it contains all forms of vitamin E or may refer to the structure of alpha-tocopherol, the d-alpha or l-alpha form. The d-alpha-tocopherol is the natural, active form, l- being a mirror image which is in many supplements.
The recommendation of 1 IU/kg/day for adults at maintenance and 2 IU/kg/day for other ages and classes refers to a mixture of d- and l- forms, d,l-alpha-tocopherol. If using pure d-alpha-tocopherol you can cut the amount in half. Supplements labelled mixed tocopherols or full-spectrum vitamin E contain all eight forms. To know how much to give you would have to know how much of the alpha-tocopherol is in it.
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Where Can I Find These Vitamin E
The most essential and natural source of vitamin E is a good-quality green grass pasture. Most horses have more access to green grass where they can get this vitamin. Yet, horses are not required to have it on a daily basis. This explains why horses do not show any problems about the lack of this vitamin even if they dont have the access for green grasses. For adult horses, they can endure 18 months without having this vitamin before health problems manifest. Also, keep in mind that fresh pasture has a high sugar content which could lead to overweight. The consideration of magnesium level of the grasses in springtime is a must.
But there are horses that do not always have access to green grasses. But even in the areas with desert climates, most of the horses do not show any signs of deficiency. Even if the pasture lands are likely to be deficient in vitamin low percentage of horses show signs of deficiency. Whether horses show vitamin deficiency related problems or not some factors may affect their health. These could be age, genetics, the period of time the horse experiencing deficiency and undetermined factors.
The assimilation may vary. So, you should test the selenium level of your horse. This is to know the corresponding selenium level you can give. With that, you can ask for a veterinarians help for any adjustments.
Supplementing Your Horses Vitamin E
If your horse does need to increase its vitamin E intake, several options are available. Giving the animal additional access to high quality pasture is the optimum choice so the horse can intake the nutrient naturally. If that is not possible, however, switching to higher quality hay that has been cut more recently can provide more vitamin E. Hay should be stored in dark, dry locations to minimize vitamin E degradation. If necessary, fortified feed can be added to your horseâs diet for greater amounts of vitamin E, and both powdered and liquid vitamin E supplements are available. Before adding supplements to the feed, however, consult your veterinarian for guidance based on your horseâs exact nutritional needs, health condition, and weight to be sure the vitamin amount is appropriate but not too much, which could lead to different health problems and toxicity.
Vitamin E provides critical protection for a horseâs musculature and nervous system, and it is important to provide your horse with an adequate amount of this nutrient. With proper forage, good quality hay, and supplements if necessary, you can be sure your horse has enough vitamin E and will maintain good health for a long, productive life.
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Toxicity Of Vitamin A And D In Horses
At Forageplus we believe that less is more with these two vitamins and so we do not routinely add vitamin A to any of our supplements apart from the horse feed balancer Laminae Plus which is aimed towards horses prone to laminitis. These horses are more likely to be eating either hay, haylage or straw which is not green or be on a hay replacement diet of beet pulp and other feeds which are not green.
Both these vitamins can be harmful if supplementation is too great. The upper safe limits are reported as 16,000 IU/kg of diet for vitamin A and 44 IU/kg of bodyweight for Vitamin D. Calculating exposure to these two minerals in feedstuffs other than reported in supplements fed is very important to maintain health and prevent poisoning.
Feeding And Supplementation Data
The feeding and micronutrient supplementation history for the broodmares was unavailable. Interview data were obtained for all enrolled pleasure horses and racehorses. All horses were fed locally grown hay and all horses, with the exception of the racehorses, were allowed to graze on pasture during the grazing months. All racehorses were fed a commercially prepared pelleted complete feed or sweet feed which contained 50 to 55 ppm of Se on a dry matter basis, whereas only 52% of the young adult pleasure horses and 56% of the aged pleasure horses were fed this type of feed. Locally grown grains, such as corn and oats, were given to most racehorses , and some young pleasure horses , and aged pleasure horses . The amount offered on a daily basis was not determined for any of these feeds.
Selenium supplementation in the form of either a fortified salt block or free choice mineral was made available to 45% of young adult pleasure horses, 50% of aged pleasure horses, and 22% of the racehorses. Vitamin E supplementation in the form of a top dress was given to 3% of young and aged pleasure horses, and 14% of racehorses.
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