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Water-Soluble Vitamin E for Horses Proven SuperiorBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 7, 2017

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) supplementation helps prevent various disorders affecting both the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, including neuroaxonal dystrophy/equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy, equine motor neuron disease, vitamin E deficient myopathy, and nutritional myodegeneration. These conditions can be prevented largely by providing adequate dietary vitamin E to horses, and recent research shows* that a liquid vitamin E supplement may be more beneficial than a powdered formulation.

“The current recommended daily dietary intake of vitamin E for adult horses is 1-2 IU/kg. Many horses obtain adequate vitamin E from pasture. When horses have limited access to pasture, either due to an underlying metabolic condition or during times of drought, and are instead offered hay, vitamin E levels may be depleted. In such cases, vitamin E supplementation could prove beneficial,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

One recent study* assessed the impact of supplementing horses with various vitamin E products for eight weeks. Included horses were healthy, but all had low circulating vitamin E (α-TP) levels (<2 μg/mL). Horses were either administered no vitamin E, a natural vitamin E acetate powdered formulation (5,000 IU/day), or a natural water-soluble vitamin E product (5,000 IU/day).

Circulating α-TP levels increased significantly in horses offered water-soluble vitamin E within a week of supplementation, and levels remained higher than horses offered either the vitamin E acetate powder or no vitamin E. Serum α-TP increased significantly by week 7 in the group supplemented with vitamin E acetate powder. The increases in serum α-TP levels were reflected in a rise in α-TP in cerebrospinal fluid—the fluid that bathes and protects the brain and spinal cord. Muscle α-TP levels were not different between groups.

“Although water-soluble vitamin E supplements tend to be a little pricier, this study shows that supplementation with this product was a cost-effective means of rapidly increasing systemic vitamin E levels in horses,” explained Crandell.

She added, “KER offers Nano•E, a powerful water-soluble liquid vitamin E antioxidant supplement for horses. This product is rapidly bioavailable and plays a vital role in immune, cardiovascular, circulatory, neuromuscular, and reproductive functions.”

*Brown, J.C., S.J. Valberg, M. Hogg, et al. Effect of feeding two RRR-alpha-tocopherol formulations on serum, cerebrospinal fluid and muscle alpha-tocopherol concentrations in horses with subclinical vitamin E deficiency. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.