Importance Of Vitamin E In The Equine Diet - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Importance Of Vitamin E In The Equine Diet

While many equine owners and caretakers are diligent about ensuring that the animals in their care receive enough fiber, fat and protein, some key facets of an equine diet are more difficult to ensure their adequacy. These tougher-to-determine items include some key vitamins and minerals.

One micronutrient in particular is imperative to equine health: Vitamin E. Crucial to neurologic health in horses, horses lacking the vitamin can become unbalanced, and develop muscle wasting and trembling. Those these signs are typical of vitamin E deficiency, to truly determine what is happening, a serum vitamin E assessment should be run. This is a blood test that will show if a horse has a low level of serum alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). Horses that are deficient may develop neurodegenerative conditions.

One condition brought on by a lack of vitamin E is equine neuroaxonal dystrophy (eNAD), which is only diagnosed through a post-mortem exam of the horse's central nervous system. Affected horses must be genetically predisposed to the disease; this, combined with low vitamin E availability during gestation and early life, can be a death sentence for the horse. Older horses that are diagnosed with a vitamin E deficiency can generally make a full recovery.

The primary way in which horses obtain vitamin E is through green pasture grass; once grass is baled into hay, the vitamin E oxidizes and does not provide the horse with the amount he needs. A horse that is deficient in vitamin E may show no clinical signs that he is severely deficient.

Any horse that is showing signs of neurologic disease, such as incoordination, stumbling or standing with its feet spread apart, should be examined by a veterinarian. Additionally, the vitamin E concentration in pregnant mares should be gathered to determine if supplementation is needed.

Vitamin E supplements are available in a variety of forms, including powders and gels.

Read more at Equine Wellness magazine.

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