Vitamin E: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Horse

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price

This important antioxidant is essential for horses that work. Its bioavailability, quality, and amount are all factors that make it a must.

Vitamin E is a great option when shopping for supplements for horses. This plant-derived vitamin, which is a favorite of nutritionists as well as the cosmetic industry, is vital for working horses.

Horse owners who are savvy know that Vitamin E is abundant in green pasture. Why is this important? Is there enough? Is it important where your horse gets it?

Let’s begin with the reasons why your horse needs Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a primary antioxidant for horses, particularly during exercise. Young explained that although oxidation is an important metabolic process, it can also produce free radicals which are compounds that can cause damage to cells. She said that working horses and performance horses may experience stiffness or muscle soreness after exercise. This can also cause longer recovery times if their natural antioxidants are not sufficient. Good news is that supplementation with antioxidants such as vitamin E can reduce the damage to horses who are exercising.

Let’s face the facts: Working horses are not able to have pasture 24/7. And even if they do, the quality and location of the pasture will vary greatly depending on the season, weather, and other factors. The same applies to hay, which is devoid of Vitamin E activity after a few months.Vitamin E’s potency varies depending on its source and how it is administered. Kentucky Equine Research’s Nano-E(r), a water-dispersible liquid supplement containing Vitamin E, is made using advanced nanotechnology. It is highly bioavailable and readily bioavailable. Kentucky Equine Research has shown that this product is superior to synthetic and natural sources. The product’s formulation allows for optimal antioxidant protection, allowing it to be administered when horses are most in need. Nano-E(r), which is also available for breeding stallions and pregnant and lactating mares, can be used to benefit them. 

Vitamin E: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Horse

Bioavailable, or Bust

Oral supplements are the answer. “Sure,” you might say. “Yes, my supplement contains Vitamin E.” But is it Bioavailable (meaning that it can be absorbed in a form that can easily metabolized)? The source of the vitamin E is a major factor in horse’s ability absorb it.

Young stated that powdered synthetic vitamin E is the most popular form found in many feeds, supplements and other products. However, Young said that synthetic vitamin E is made up of a mix of vitamin isomers. Natural vitamin E is more effective in minimizing muscle and oxidative damage in horses who are exercising.

Research also suggests that a water-dispersible and natural form of Vitamin E can reach serum concentrations (therapeutically active levels) faster than the powdered version.

Amounts and Count

Your horse is receiving natural Vitamin E, which is great. Is he getting enough Vitamin E? Young stated that the Vitamin E levels in commercial feeds vary and are “rarely sufficient to meet a horse’s entire need, especially for working horses.”

The current recommendations of the National Research Council to meet daily minimum requirements for horses over 1,100 lb (500kg) are 500 IU and 800 1000 IU respectively for horses that work. Additional sources* suggest vitamin E supplements of 3,000 to 5,000 IU per 1,100lb (500kg) horse six to twelve hours before competition or stressful events. 5,000 IU/day is recommended to support horses suffering from EPM. Horses with muscle myopathies should receive 2,000 to 3,000 IU/day.

NRC recommendations do not distinguish between synthetic and natural sources of Vitamin E. It is up to you to be a smart consumer. It can be difficult to identify which vitamin is which, given the variety of ways it is listed on supplement and feed labels. Don’t be afraid of doing your research. Read the product literature. Ask questions to the manufacturer.

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!