Ask the Vet – Why do horses need Vitamin E?

Ask the Vet – Why do horses need Vitamin E?

January 6, 2020 3 By Ewald Bahringer


SARAH: My vet has recently been pushing for
all of her clients’ horses to get more Vitamin E. DR. LYDIA GRAY: Yay! SARAH: What is Vitamin E used for in the horse? How much should a horse be getting per day? And should you use a natural or unnatural
supplement? What’s the difference? So based on your reaction, I’m guessing you’re
not a fan of Vitamin E. DR. LYDIA GRAY: I’m a huge fan of Vitamin E. What
we know about it is that there’s really high levels in fresh grass. So horses that are on pasture are probably
doing great. We also know that not a lot of horses are
on pasture. SARAH: Certainly not in significant amounts. DR. LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, yeah, I mean this is like
all day, turn-out pasture. SARAH: Not like what he can reach under the
fence. DR. LYDIA GRAY: That does not count. So then you’ve got to make that up. Now the NRC, which is the Nutrient Requirement
of Horses says, that one to two international units– sorry, that’s the unit they use–
per kilogram of horse. Ugh, metric. So a 500 kilogram horse is about 1,100 pounds,
so we’re talking 500 to 1,000 units, international units, of Vitamin E a day is like the basic
you need to sustain life. We’re not talking optimum here, and we’re
not talking the exercising horse or the sick or injured horse or a horse that might need
more Vitamin E, a horse with a neuromuscular condition such as Shivers. So in that case, it might be more like 2000,
5000 for a horse with a Vitamin E responsive myopathy, muscle condition — I’ve heard of
10,000 international units. So then, it comes to her question, which I
thought was cute, the natural or, she called it “unnatural.” We use the term– SARAH: Supernatural. DR. LYDIA GRAY: We use the term natural or synthetic. So natural– and here’s your tip for label
reading. Natural will say d-alpha-Tocopherol because
alpha-Tocopherol is the thing that we measure in the blood. It’s the isomer. It’s the version of Vitamin E that’s active
in the body. The synthetic Vitamin E will say dl-alpha-Tocopherol. So you just look for that little “l,” and
then you know it’s synthetic. Both are fine, there’s no problem with them,
it’s just that the natural is more bioactive. Some used the word ‘potent’ in place of ‘bioactive.’ But when you feed natural, all of the Vitamin
E is going to serve as an antioxidant, specifically for nervous and muscle tissue. When you feed a synthetic Vitamin E, not all
of the alpha-Tocopherol is bioactive, is available for the body to use, only about one eighth
of it. So you just have to feed more, but it’s less
expensive. So it’s a decision that the horse owner makes,
knowing the value of both, natural and synthetic. SARAH: OK, if you guys want to learn more
about natural Vitamin E particularly, you can go to SmartPak.com/Research and click
on the link for our Vitamin E research study, which was completed by our very own
Dr. Lydia Gray.