Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, is an essential vitamin that must be obtained through your horse’s diet. There are many products sold in the equine supplement industry that contain varying forms of vitamin E that are available, but it is sometimes difficult to decide which type and how much is best for your horse and its individual needs.

Ultimately, the most bio-available forms of vitamin E should be used to properly formulate balanced equine diets to treat vitamin E deficiency and its associated conditions and to aid in exercise recovery.

Calculating how much vitamin E to give to your horse can be done by looking at your horse’s body weight, physiological status and work level.

The Importance of Vitamin E

Vitamin E has a vital role in your horse’s body as a powerful antioxidant that enhances the immune response, maintains cell membrane integrity and reduces oxidative stress brought on by exercise.

The changes that humans have made in the modern equine diet as well as advances that have been made in equine physiology have warranted vitamin E supplementation, especially for horses that are:

Insufficient vitamin E intake can contribute to muscle pathologies such as vitamin E deficiency myopathy with muscle wasting and weakness, white muscle disease, and neurological diseases such as Equine Motor Neuron Disease (EMND) and Equine Degenerative Myeloencephalopathy (EDM).

Vitamin E depletion could easily develop in horses with exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying-up) of any cause and supplementation is routinely done in those cases.

It is also a major antioxidant in the immune system and increased supplementation to combat oxidative stress in horses with nervous system infections is reasonable.

These conditions can significantly reduce equine performance and welfare and so the prompt detection of a deficiency and nutritional or medical intervention is extremely important.

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Not all Vitamin E is Created Equal

There are many options available when it comes to supplementing vitamin E.  Vitamin E is a generic term to describe the eight fat-soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols; of these eight compounds, alpha-tocopherol is the most biologically active and relevant form. The most natural form of alpha-tocopherol is termed d-alpha-tocopherol, also known as RRR-alpha-tocopherol.