If you own at least one horse, it is safe to assume that you are a horse enthusiast; and the last thing you want to see is your horse showing signs of weakness. It is common knowledge that horses can have severe impact on their normal functionality because of vitamin deficiency. Is your horse vitamin deficient? Or, are you observing any change in his behavior that might suggest vitamin deficiency in the animal? The answers to these questions are not simple; there are experienced vets out there who will provide some qualified answers. In a broader landscape of horses’ health issues, we don’t know a lot of things. Moreover, vitamins are more complex than what our usual perceptions about them are.
Vitamins are insignificant amount of organic compounds but have tremendous effect on your horse’s health; sources of these vitamins are their everyday diet and some of the vitamins are produced from the digestive system itself. Scientists have identified two types of vitamins: consumed with food that is stored in the body and produced by the body through process of excretion. The first type of vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and vitamins of the second type, such as vitamins B and C are water-soluble. The body of a horse requires certain amount of each vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins produced by the body in excess are not used and excreted fast; however, fat-soluble vitamins are stored and excess amount may build up toxicities.
If consumption of a little amount of vitamin is good for your horse’s health, wouldn’t more of it even render better health benefits? Not necessarily; it is true that vitamin deficiencies can have devastating negative impact on body functionality of a horse, but toxicities produced by overdose of some vitamins may have the same effect. Besides, it is important to know that not all the species living on earth have similar vitamin requirements. Assuming standards of human metabolism apply to horses as well, would be a mistake. Furthermore, vitamin requirement for horses have nothing to do with the volume of work they do; a race-track horse and a horse for pleasure rides have almost similar needs for vitamins.
Marketers of vitamin supplements are always trying to convince horse owners that their horses need those products with their regular feed. As a matter of fact, horses receive sufficient dose of vitamins through their body excretion and with the vegetation they consume every day. Horses rarely get seriously ill for vitamin deficiency or for excessive intake; however, the possibility of a horse receiving enough vitamins to maintain body metabolism but insufficient for maximum health benefits cannot be ruled out.
Vitamin supplements are not always redundant in building nutrition for horses; some of them are capable of increasing resistance to infections and muscle damage caused by internal excretion. Vitamin requirement for horses is a complicated issue and decision basing on assumption or on old-horseman’s lore is not recommended. There are still researches going on; the vets should have up to date information on the subject. In case of supplementing, consider discussing each kind of vitamin with a vet before you include it in your horse’s diet.
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