Does your horse need a Vitamin E supplement added to his or her feeding program?

Hay is the most important component of a horse’s diet, and contributes almost all the necessary macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that our horses need.

Notice how I said almost? Hay does not cover all our horses’ nutrient requirements and there is one micronutrient in particular that is often deficient in horses on a hay-based diet.

That essential nutrient is vitamin E.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is an antioxidant involved in immune response, metabolism, and cellular health.

It acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that are produced naturally during metabolism of sugars and fat into energy. These free radicals are volatile in nature and can cause damage to cell membranes, enzymes and other intracellular components.

Vitamin E, vitamin C and other anti-oxidants such as selenium play critical roles in maintaining a balance, or homeostasis, with free radicals.

This fat-soluble vitamin is an especially important micronutrient for the health of pregnant, lactating, breeding, growing and exercising horses, but is also vital for all adult horses.

Vitamin E deficiencies have been associated with neuromuscular conditions such as: [1]

Some of these conditions, such as white muscle disease, are also associated with both selenium and vitamin E deficiency.

While these conditions are rare, in order to optimize our horse’s nutrition, we need to ensure they are getting enough vitamin E (and selenium) to support their overall health and wellbeing.