Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
Vitamin C is one of the most overlooked vitamins in horse nutrition. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid, has many roles in the body. Many of these roles revolve around its anti-oxidant properties.
Vitamin C is crucial in neutralizing harmful free-radicals. Vitamin C is water-soluble, so it can be used inside and outside of cells to fight free-radical damage. Vitamin C can also help by regenerating vitamin E. Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis and hormone synthesis. Vitamin C also converts vitamin D3 into calcitriol, bone calciumification, and antihistamine control. Vitamin C deficiencies can lead to poor hair, a depressed immune system and hemorhage.
Supplemental vitamin C is a critical requirement for humans. Without it, people will get scurvy. This common condition affects seafarers who don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables. This confusion may result in horses not getting the vitamin C they need. Horses do not need vitamin C, but humans do. Horses produce L-gulonolactone oxide oxidase in their livers, which is the enzyme that converts glucose to vitamin C. Humans do not have this enzyme. Horses must have a functioning liver, adequate glucose and sufficient vitamin C to be able to get the required conversion. Vitamin C supplementation is not necessary for a healthy horse.
It is difficult to get horses to absorb supplemental Vitamin C. It is difficult to get horses to absorb supplemental vitamin C. Research has shown that these amounts must be large enough to register a change in blood levels. Supplemental vitamin C cannot be absorbed by horses’ intestines so it is necessary to consume more than three grams per day.
Horses are capable of producing the enzyme required for the conversion of glucose into vitamin C. Supplemental vitamin C can be harmful to horses’ natural ability to produce that enzyme. If it is not required, long-term supplementation with large amounts of vitamin A is not recommended. Even short-term supplementation may have a harmful effect. It is best to gradually wean horses off vitamin C supplementation after they have been taking it for more than 10 days. In weanling horses, it was found that the blood levels of ascorbic acids dropped to below their normal levels after 10 days. This effect lasted for three weeks. It was thought that the effect of supplementation on enzyme production in liver is responsible for this. The feedback mechanism causes slow enzyme production to stop once it has started.
Vitamin C has not been added to horse feeds in large amounts. Vitamin C’s potency is also affected by oxidation. This is why it is often added to premixes in commercial feeds. Vitamin C may also be used in supplements in other forms that are more stable. Vitamin C is added to joint supplements due to its role in the maturation and formation of collagen. However, there are not enough data from horses about the nutritional value of vitamin C in joint supplements.
Supplemental vitamin C may be beneficial in certain situations, such as when the horse’s immune system is weakening. The body may not be able produce enough vitamin C to meet the increased demands. Supplemental vitamin C may be beneficial for horses that work hard, such as endurance horses, racehorses, and eventers; horses that are in long-term stressful situations (such a long transport or multiday competitions); horses who have suffered from injuries, infections, or diseases; horses with heaves, allergies, or horses with wounds; and horses with chronic illnesses or reduced immunity.
Researchers are looking for ways to supplement vitamin C in horses under stressful circumstances. Researchers found that foals who were exposed to high levels of stress in stall confinement during weaning had lower plasma ascorbate levels than the norm, which indicates a high vitamin C requirement and inadequate production. Another research found that vitamin C supplementation (20g daily) improved antibody response to vaccines in older horses, particularly those with pituitary dysfunction and Cushing’s syndrome. Horses with chronic airway obstruction had low levels of blood ascorbic acid in their plasma and fluid. It is recommended that these horses receive 30 mg/kg daily.
Recent research by a collaborative group has shown that horses suffering from surgical colic had higher levels of isoprostanes metabolites (produced by free radical-induced peroxidation arachadonic acids and are sensitive markers for oxidative stress or ischaemia) than horses with medical colic and unaffected control horses. In cases of surgical colic, it is important to use antioxidant and cell-protectant therapy as an adjunct therapy. In addition to high doses natural vitamin E, Vitamin C, DMSO and lignocaine should be used.
Horses suffering from the acute stage equine motor nerve disease (EMND), should be given vitamin C. This supplement also contains vitamin E and niacin. The supplement was found to increase body sweat and heat dissipation in anhidrotic horses that are not exercised.
The plants are a great source of vitamin A and green grass has plenty. However, hay is almost devoid of vitamin D due to the oxidative stability of vitamin C. As grains sprout, they experience a significant increase in vitamin C. After sprouting, oats’ vitamin C can rise by as much as 600%. Although sprouts can be used to supplement vitamin C for horses who are under stress or in heavy training, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the absorption.
It is not necessary to give vitamin C to horses, but it can be a powerful antioxidant that could make it an appealing supplement in case of problems.