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 (?-TP) levels (<2 ?g/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 ?-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 ?-TP increased significantly by week 7 in the group supplemented with vitamin E acetate powder. The increases in serum ?-TP levels were reflected in a rise in ?-TP in cerebrospinal fluid—the fluid that bathes and protects the brain and spinal cord. Muscle ?-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.”