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Equine Nutrition: Vitamin E

As equestrians, we all want the best for our equine partners and part of that is the nutrition equation. As a horse and barn owner, I’ve always wanted to dig deeper into the nutritional recommendations from industry experts. 

I dug into three articles written by experts and pulled out their key points and takeaways: The first article “When Do Horses Need Vitamin E?” by Clair Thunes, PhD, the second by one of my favourite sources KER “Understanding Vitamin E in Equine Diets,” and the third article titled “Why your horse needs vitamin E” by renowned rancher Heather Smith Thomas

I strongly encourage you to read these articles when you have time as they are dense in information and great resources. The quick and short version is below. 

Key Notes on Vitamin E in equines 

  • Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, functions as an antioxidant and helps maintain muscles, nerves, and immune cells. 
  • Horses can’t produce Vitamin E, so they typically get it through grazing.  
  • Experts recommend about 500 IU daily as a maintenance level for a 1,100-pound horse in light work. 
  • Signs of Vitamin E deficiency include “muscle soreness and stiffness and slower-than-expected recovery” (TheHorse.com). 
Photo by Free Nature Stock from Pexels

Key takeaways 

  • Supplement based on diet – Horses on an exclusive hay diet require additional Vitamin E 
  • Supplement based on conditions – Aging or underweight horses as well as horses with health conditions require additional Vitamin E. 
  • Keep an eye out for signs – When in doubt, a blood test can determine if there is a deficiency. 

To conclude, Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that may need to be supplemented based on your horse’s diet, age, underlying conditions, and work.  

Hungry for more? Here is the second post of the series: Equine Nutrition: Selenium.

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