How to Effectively Supplement Horses With Vitamin E
Carrie Finno, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, has studied vitamin E and its effects on equine neuromuscular conditions extensively. She shared her recommendations for effective vitamin E supplementation at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.
Why Is Vitamin E Important?
Vitamin E is a collective term used to describe a group of eight compounds known as tocopherols, the most bioavailable of which is alpha-tocopherol (α-TOH)—in particular, RRR stereoisomer (RRR-α-TOH). Once absorbed, this form is the most bioactive in animal tissue because the liver takes it up preferentially.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in neuromuscular health. The National Research Council recommends horses consume 1-2 IU of vitamin E per kilogram of body weight per day, which equals 1,000-2,000 IU per day for a 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) horse. Veterinarians typically use serum levels of α-TOH to assess a horse’s whole-body vitamin E status, with values of >2 µg/mL considered to be normal. Individual metabolism of vitamin E between horses varies greatly, Finno
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