Vitamin E is it really important?

The short answer is YES!

It’s in every cell of your horse’s body and it is one of the only antioxidants able to cross into spinal cord, brain, liver, eyes, heart, skin, and joints. Vitamin E is the most important antioxidant in the body, it protects individual cells on a daily basis. Your horses body does not make vitamin E. Alpha-Tocopherol is the only form of vitamin E stored for a short time in the tissues, also the only form that is metabolized by the liver, and it is the one with the most biological antioxidant action. On top of being an antioxidant, Vitamin E is helpful as an anti-inflammatory when given at certain levels as we are learning in the treatment of EPM stricken horses.

Vitamin E deficiencies can have serious health-consequences in horses, some of them may be irreversible, more horse owners are seeking nutritional education and the knowledge of Equine Vets, Nutritionists and Naturopaths. If the deficiency in certain vitamins is short term, it may be resolved through the use of supplements, however a chronic deficiency say over a year, may begin to cause long-term damage to critical systems such as circulatory, nervous, reproductive, respiratory and muscular, among others. A long term vitamin E may contribute to serious neurological disorders.

If our horses are on grass only a few hours a day, they are housed on a dirt lot, or have teeth issues, they will more than likely be Vitamin E deficient. Fresh grass has Vitamin E, but our horses would need to graze about 12 hours a day to get enough and even then some pastures are E deficient. Fortified and processed feeds may contain vitamin E on the label, but the act of the processing breaks it down and its also almost always a synthetic which is not recognized by the body.  Many of our horses are stalled and are given hay, but the hay doesn’t have vitamin E, as soon as the grass is cut it breaks down.

What can we do? Supplement!

Generally speaking just to survive horses should have 1000-2000 IU a day. If they are used in regular work, are broodmares, have cushings, or they are senior horses 5000 IU a day. Horses with neurological issues like EDM, EPM, PSSM, or EMND among others up to 10,000 IU a day.

Some symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency can be difficulty standing, lying down a lot, sudden muscle contractions, stiffness, sudden onset of trembling, excessive shifting from one hind leg to another, uncoordinated gaits, muscle atrophy and low energy.

I personally have a horse with NAD due to a vitamin E deficiency, I can tell you it is a very important vitamin!

Look into vitamin E supplementation, your horse will thank you!

I Hope you enjoyed this post, please feel free to comment and share! Robin

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