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Exploring Vitamin E – why is it important?

Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, is an essential nutrient beneficial to the horse for many reasons; a Vitamin which is not synthesized by the body and therefore is an essential dietary nutrient.

Vitamin E is most prominently known as an antioxidant.  An antioxidant is an agent that inhibits oxidation; any of numerous chemical substances including certain natural body products and nutrients that can neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances that can damage membranes and components of cells.  It also has an important role in supporting and maintaining healthy muscle, nerve and reproductive functions.  Vitamin E has a specific role interrelated to the metabolism of selenium.  It is the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant which is important for the integrity of biological structures such as cell membranes (Combs et al 1975).  In situation of oxidative stress, vitamin E prevents free radical-induced oxidative damage (Harris & Dyson 1996).  Vitamin E is essential for the proper function of the reproductive, muscular, nervous, circulatory and immune systems.

Vitamin E is found in green, growing pasture but up to 80% of Vitamin E activity is lost in the cutting, baling and storage of forage, and Vitamin E levels drop substantially in winter grazing. Supplementation is recommended as nutritional support to:

  • Horses fed on hay or without access to pastures,
  • Young stock or elderly horses
  • Horses in hard work / intense training / competition,
  • Horses lacking stamina during training,
  • Broodmares and lactating mares,
  • Breeding stallions,
  • Support the immune system,
  • Support stiff muscles and joints

Our synthetic high spec Vitamin E product is a convenient way to feed this important vitamin to your horse.  Research has found that synthetic vitamin E appears to have a higher bio-availability than natural forms (Gansen et al 1995)

Copyright© Sally Tobin 2020


Combs, G.F., Noguchi, T., Scott, M.L., 1975.  Mechanism of action of selenium and vitamin E in protection of biological membranes.  Fed Proc 34, 2090-2995. 

Gansen, S., Lindner, A., Wagener, A., 1995. Influence of a supplementation with natural and synthetic vitamin E on serum a-tocopherol content and V4 of Thoroughbred horses. In: Proc. 14th Equine Nutr, Physiol. Symp., Ontario, CA. Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society, Savoy, IL, p.68.

Harris, P., Dyson, S., 1996. Muscle disorders in the horse. Vet Pract 28, 6-8.

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