Vitamin E

Vitamin E For Horses

Are you wondering about vitamin E for horses?  

Are you considering a supplement of vitamin E for your horse? 

Fat soluble, antioxidant. Essential for growth, proper muscle development and function, oxygen transport and red blood cell stability, believed important to the proper function equine immune system. Acts as a vasodilator: a compound which opens up blood vessels so that blood flows more freely through tissues. Also a cellular level antioxidant which prevents formation of toxic oxide compounds in the tissues during periods of intense exercise. Closely related to selenium.

DEFICIENCY: Vitamin E deficiency in horses causes swelling of the joints, muscle degeneration and ataxia (loss of coordination). Also linked to a form of wobblers syndrome, a disease which affects the spinal cord and column.

What Is Vitamin E for Horses?

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Vitamin E is actually a collection of eight natural compounds and they all have different antioxidant functions.  Inside those eight there are four tocopherols and four tocotrienols, and each of these is designated with an alpha, beta, delta or gamma.  

Hay, or grass is almost the perfect feed for a horse, not surprisingly.  A horse needs the right balance of protein, fibre, energy and nutrients to maintain good health.  The one things that is missing from hay is vitamin E, it is present in the green grass, but as soon as it is transformed into hay the vitamin degrades.  The longer the hay is stored the less vitamin E remains in the hay.  

This creates the opportunity for some horses, especially those that don't get to forage on green grass to be deficient in vitamin E.  Horses that are in vigorous training and competing schedules are at higher risk because of the work and the limited turnout.  Older horses are also more likely deficient in vitamin E. 

What Does Vitamin E Do?

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it binds to free radicals and reduces the damage done by these molecules.  Free radicals need to be dealt with, as they can inhibit other molecules from doing their job correctly and cause damage to cell walls, and inflammation in the body.  

Free radicals come from the natural metabolization of protein, fat and carbs.  At a small amount they can help with bacterial or viral threats, but when they get to be too many they can cause damage.  This is especially true after a horse exercises, they produce more free radicals that need to extra antioxidants to break them down.

How Much Vitamin E Does a Horse Need?

Although the exact amount has not been well established in the literature, guidelines in the nutrient requirements of horses from the national research council recommends 500 IU daily as a maintenance level for an 1100 pound horse.  This increases to 800 units when the horse is in light work and 1000 units in heavy work. 

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