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VetPro Vitamin E

by VetPro

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What is Vitamin E and When Does a Horse Need It?

Normally horses will provide themselves with all the vitamins they need if they have a good basic diet (even if its pasture only) and access to daylight etc and they can create vitamins within themselves and also store vitamins. However, Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) is an essential vitamin – meaning that the horse has to ingest it daily and its source is green feed – i.e. good quality pasture. Therefore it is possible that levels can become low at times and so unlike other vitamins, at these times horses will need supplementation of this vitamin. The need to supplement Vitamin E will occur firstly when the green feed intake is reduced – typically when on winter pasture, or wet trampled pastures, or drought conditions. Also a need to supplement applies when horses may be deliberately restricted from pasture in the spring in order to keep the hype of spring grass affecting the behaviour. A shortfall can also occur when a horse is a poor or restless grazer, and particularly when a horses is stabled and is not being given fresh green fodder such as fresh lucerne chaff (which is a good source of this vitamin). It is important to note that storage of green fodder will also reduce the availability of Vitamin E.

Why Does a Horse Need Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is needed for the correct functioning of the nervous system so low levels of Vitamin E in the diet can result in horses being nervy. It also can affect muscular efficiency and performance and has been attributed to creating susceptibility to tye up syndrome. It is often recommended in conjunction with selenium for horses prone to tying up. The other very specific need is for breeding stock – both mares in foal and lactating, weanlings and stallions. The demand for Vitamin E is higher in breeding stock, necessary for proper function of the reproductive systems, and therefore these animals should always be provided with daily Vitamin E.

The greater the performance demands on a horse – the greater the need for vitamin E. This is because of its contribution as an efficient anti-oxidant and therefore supplementation is appropriate to offset the development of free radicals (the result of cellular energy transfer) which is of course increased in horses working harder. It is vital to offset these, as they can cause oxidative stress and hence damage to cells and cell membranes, by providing a good anti-oxidant supplement. This will maintain the integrity of the muscle structure, and prevent muscle damage.

So as well as being necessary for the proper function of the reproductive, muscular, nervous, circulatory and immune systems, it’s most important function is as an antioxidant protecting damage to the cells which can result in permanent tissue, muscle damage and vulnerability to disease and reproductive problems.How

Much Vitamin E is Needed by a Horse

A 500kg horse on pasture and resting needs 375 iu per day, a lactating mare or a working horse needs 1200 iu daily. However when green feed is restricted foals and yearlings need 500-1000 iu, working horses 2000- 4000 iu, pregnant and lactating mares 2000- 4000 iu and stallions 1000- 2000 iu. Vetpro Vitamin E supplement contains 67,000 iu per kg. Therefore a 15gm scoop will provide 1005 iu and a 30gm 2010 iu.

NOTE: Products containing Iron should not be added to the same feed as Vitamin E as the vitamin will be destroyed by the Iron. Therefore supplements that contain both Iron and Vitamin E will not be providing any Vitamin E to the horse. If Iron is required then a separate feed at a different time will solve that issue.