Vitamin E for Horses: Different Forms and Their Importance

Last Updated on October 29, 2020 by Allison Price

three assorted-color horses running away from a mountain

Like humans, horses also need vitamins and minerals for their health. Neglecting such needs may result to serious health deficiency diseases.

Vitamin E plays a significant role in the health of horses. This means that they should have it in their diet since they cannot produce it by themselves. Vitamin E is one of a kind. The immune system, nervous, muscular, reproductive, et al. – these systems also rely on this Vitamin. Vitamin E supplementing is essential. Especially for horses that do not have an access to quality pasture. This is an important information for new born horses. And for performance horses that are being kept stalled and fed by stored hay. As the demand in vitamin E rises for these horses, consuming hay is not enough. Also, keeping them in confinement could make them susceptible to health diseases.

Good-quality pasture is the main source of this vitamin. Horses that are consuming large amount of green forage have found to have healthier body. But over a period of time, there is a rapid decrease in the level of vitamin E in preserved hays. About 30% to 85% of vitamin E level lost during the harvest of hay and it will rise when hay is stored. The amount of vitamin in forage varies, depending what type of hay it is and how it is harvest. With this, manufacturers saw that large number of horses only depend on hay. So, they add vitamin E to commercial feed.

To achieve Vitamin E supplementation, use good-quality pasture and other product. A product that uses nanodispersion technologies and liposome encapsulation to achieve high bioavailability.

Minimal amount of vitamin E supplementation may lead to greater problems. This may result to poor wound healing, poor stress tolerance… as well low immunity function ability. And poor athletic performance. Even if some horses do not show symptoms of having vitamin E deficiency, it can link to the state of some diseases. To young horses, the diseases might include myodegenration, dystrophy and myeloecephalopathy. Also, adult horses may develop equine motor neuron disease. And vitamin E deficient myopathy. The signs of having vitamin E deficiency may include ataxia peripheral myopathy. Also, damage to eye retina and fasciculations. Measuring the level of vitamin E through blood… is the easier way to identify the health deficiency of horses.

Liquid Vitamin E for Horses

Vitamin E serves as an antioxidant. It keeps free radicals to form and weaken cells and tissues. Aside from its responsibilities as an antioxidant, this vitamin is vital to immune. Also, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, circulatory and reproductive functions.

Because of the need of vitamin E in horses, its availability is being established well. If your horse has frequent access to good-quality pasture… the need to supplement vitamin E is very little. But a lot of horses today are being managed without fresh forage provided in their diets. Although they can survive in management systems. They may not be able to consume enough vitamin E for optimal health.

Nano-E is using nanotechnology. So that there is a source of vitamin E that is available can be produced and easily absorbed. It enables administration to be on time. And give antioxidant protection especially to performance horses. It is a water-soluble liquid kind of vitamin E antioxidant for horses. It’s very unique and in a rapidly bioavailable form. 

Water-Soluble-Kind of Vitamin E for Horses

The Vitamin E supplementation prevents different disorders. That affect the nervous system and musculoskeletal system.

These conditions are:
  • Neuroaxonal dystrophy or equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy
  • Equine motor neuron disease
  • Vitamin E deficient myopathy
  • Nutritional myodegeneration

Your horse can prevent these conditions by giving enough dietary vitamin E to your horse. According to a research, liquid vitamin E supplement is said to be more beneficial… compared to a powdered formulation.

Pure Vitamin E for Horses

Good-quality green grass pasture is an essential source of the said Vitamin. Luckily, most horses have more access to green grass that can give them this Vitamin. But horses are not required to have it on a daily basis. This explains why horses do not show any problems about the lack of this Vitamin. Even if they don’t have the access for green grasses. For adult horses, they can endure 18 months without having this Vitamin. Before health problems manifest. Also, keep in mind that fresh pasture has a high sugar content which could lead to overweight. The consideration of magnesium level of the grasses in springtime is a must. 

white and brown horses near body of water during daytime

Moreover, there are horses that are not lucky enough to always have access to green grasses. But even in the areas with desert climates, most of the horses do not show any signs of deficiency. Even if the pasture lands are likely to be deficient in E vitamin… low percentage of horses show signs of deficiency. Whether horses show vitamin deficiency related problems or not… some factors may affect their health. These could be age, genetics, the period of time the horse experiencing deficiency. And undetermined factors.

It is hard to know if the horses are vitamin E deficient or not since some of them show no signs at all. No one can automatically draw blood. Also, check the levels of vitamin E and to have assurance that the horses have no problem. With an expert, such as veterinarian, a proper diagnosis is possible. They can identify the vitamin E status which can relate to vitamin E deficiency. Also, they will do a biopsy test for muscle, as well as removing disease that have the same signs. 

Good-quality grasses is a magnificent source of vitamin E for horses in any form. A horse that is overly exposed to good pasture can consume higher Vitamin E than the rule of NRC. Unfortunately, vitamin E is not stable in heat, so the level may decrease over a period of time. With this, horses that are in poor pasture or those who can’t maintain on good pasture must have enough hay to eat. Also, there are horses experiencing shortage of hay. So, they should receive another source of this vitamin. The vitamin E level of a good commercial feeds must meet the requirements of NRC. If it suits to the guidelines of the manufacturer. The feeds’ components have an impact to horses. It will be better for a veterinarian to run a test to see if another source of supplement is actually needed. This is a better approach for horses that show signs of vitamin E deficiency. Or have worsened neurologic conditions. 

two gray and brown horses eating grass

Moreover, selenium is added to various vitamin E supplement in the market. A 50 kg mature horse at rest or has a light work… needs to have 1 milligram per day and may increase to 2.35 milligram if the work is heavy. But the horse may not suffer any effect if he will have two intakes of selenium. Where in fact, the NRC rule of horses to have selenium is still unknown.

According to research, the suggested intake of selenium per kilogram is 0.1 milligram. For consuming dry matters will prevent deficiency. But 3 milligrams of selenium per day compared to 1… shows a greater foals equine influenza antibody. This only shows that to get high immune function, there is a need to have higher intake of selenium. Also, this will lead to avoidance of classical deficiency syndrome. Moreover, 0.5 milligram per kilogram of dry matter being consumed… is the estimated tolerance of horses in selenium. 

In the U.S, the food and drug Administration usually recommends that… the most concentration of selenium should not be more than 0.3 milligram per kilogram in dry matters. The guidelines for selenium intake vary. The more you feed your horses, the consumed number of selenium is rising. So, you need to calculate the amount for you to know how much selenium the body of your horse can handle. 

Since the assimilation may vary, you should test the selenium level of your horse. To know the corresponding selenium level that you can give. With that, you can ask for a veterinarian’s help for any adjustments. 

The level of Vitamin E for Horses

The Nutrient Requirements of Horses (NRC,2007) sets that… a 500 kg horses that have a light to moderate exercises requires to have 800-900 IU of vitamin E per day. This is mostly achieved with a balance good diet of high-quality pasture. The NRC has set a safe range level concentration of synthetic of this vitamin at 20 IU/Kg based on biopotency. Beyond this level, problems such as impaired bones have been reported. For healthy exercising horses’ high level of supplementation of vitamin E was… detrimental to absorption of some nutrients.

When licensed veterinarian examines the blood of horses, the alpha-tocopherol is being measured. A blood examination using plasma or serum is the reliable source… of knowing a-tocopherol deficiency. This is the normal reference range level of alpha- tocopherol in the blood of the horse:

  • Greater than 2 milligram/mL is Adequate
  • Less than 2 milligram/mL is Deficient

How vitamin E works

Vitamin E is known as a potent antioxidant. It controls the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have odd number of electrons. Since they are unstable charge of energy, as they want to become stable… they steal electron from other molecules. And so, the other molecule now become unstable and it will steal electron to others. These activities taken place inside the body of horses… damages molecules as it loses electron. Also, that molecule stole other electrons may inhibit the function of that molecule. If free radicals are high in numbers, it is hard to control the chain reaction. Furthermore, such activity could damage the cell walls, DNA and other vital structures.

Free radicals are product of fat’s use, carbohydrates and proteins. These are not bad for the horses. They can help in neutralizing the viral or bacterial threats inside the body of horses. But when the number exceeds from the normal range, it became a threat. 

Shortage of vitamin E might lead to many cell damages all throughout the horses’ body. If the horses have lots of work to do… the muscle soreness and recovery from exercises are slower than expected. In line to that, as the workload increases, the need for vitamin also increases.

Other forms of Vitamin E for Horses

There are lots of Vitamin E but they are not the same. There are isomers of vitamin. But the only vitamin E from fresh greener pasture contains d-alpha-tocopherol. One of the studies shows that the natural vitamin E might be higher to synthetic versions. Why is it superior? It is because the mitigating factor and muscle cell damage control… is greater compare to synthetic versions. 

Various supplements of Vitamin E are available. But researchers noted their differences in the bioavailability. The d-alpha-tocopherol, natural vitamin E, has been proven that… it is the most bioavailable form. Synthetic Versions of vitamin E, dl-alpha-tocopherol… come with different mixtures of various isomers of vitamin. With that, it is not all absorbed by the body of the horses. Practically, the bioavailability is lesser than the natural form. 

There are different forms of natural acetate- the d-alpha-tocopheryl and d-alpha tocopherol. The d-alpha tocopheryl, as mentioned above… referred as a protected form that is more stable. This type can be included to pellets. The second form is the d-alpha-tocopherol which is in a liquid form. This form taking vitamin E and incorporating it water-based environment. Extremely, it requires high energy through ultrasound in producing small extreme fat droplets. The nanoemulsion is most likely unstable. Its effectiveness will just last up to 30 days. Vitamin E nanomolecules deteriorates quickly over a period of time. Particular when it is expose to air. Also, if you store the nanoemulsions in a low temperature, there is a great loss of its effectiveness.


Vitamin E has a significant role in the horses’ diet. Along with different minerals. It helps them fight any disease that they are experiencing. That is why, for those who don’t have direct and frequent access to pure E vitamin… there are supplements to sustain them. They in are in the form of liquid Vitamin E and water-soluble liquid E vitamin. Aside from the pure source of vitamin E which is the green grass.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!