Vitamins Discovered 100 Years AgoBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 4, 2012
Vitamins have been around for a long time, but the term “vitamin” and an appreciation of the importance of these substances dates back only about a hundred years.
In 1912, Casimir Funk, a Polish biochemist, realized that the increase in cases of the nutritional deficiency disease beri-beri coincided with the practice of polishing the bran layer off rice kernels, a staple food in Asia. Isolating a curative substance from the rice bran, he called it a “vitamine,” combining terms denoting nitrogen compounds and life. Other scientists isolated several similar compounds that were included in the grouping.
Vitamins are defined as organic substances that are necessary for the proper nutrition of plants and animals. Ingested in minute quantities, vitamins act as coenzymes and precursors of coenzymes in the regulation of many metabolic processes. Some vitamins must be provided by food, while others are produced within the body. Not all animals are able to produce the same vitamins, which is one reason feeds designed for one species are not necessarily suitable for another type of animal.
Broadly classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble, many vitamins are available from the forages and grains eaten by horses. To be certain your horse is getting the vitamins necessary for health, provide access to fresh grass or recently baled hay as well as a fortified grain product.