Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a mixture of several related compounds known as tocopherols. The most biologically active tocopherol is α-tocopherol, but there are eight different forms of the base molecule. Vitamin E is absorbed in the small intestine and accumulates in cell membranes, adipose tissue and circulating lipoproteins.

Description:

Vitamin E is a mixture of several related compounds known as tocopherols. The most biologically active tocopherol is α-tocopherol, but there are eight different forms of the base molecule. Vitamin E is absorbed in the small intestine and accumulates in cell membranes, adipose tissue and circulating lipoproteins.

Function:

Vitamin E functions purely as an antioxidant and thus protects unsaturated lipids in tissue from oxidation. Its antioxidant activity scavenges free radicals and molecular oxygen. It helps to maintain normal packed cell volume of the blood, to improve exercise tolerance and to reduce pulmonary inflammation. Vitamin E is also required for normal immune function.

Sources:

Fresh green forage, germinating cereal grain, vegetables such as corn and soya, fish (cod liver) and vegetable (rapeseed) oils.

Daily Requirements (NRC, 2007):

1 to 2 IU/kg body weight depending on the work intensity. Growing horse, lactating mare: 2 IU/kg body weight.

Deficiency:

Reproductive failure, nutritional “muscular dystrophy”, reduced performance under exercise, steatitis, haemolytic anaemia, and neurological and immunological abnormalities.

Excess:

Reduced performance and growth, hyperphosphotaemia (low phosphorus), weight loss, anorexia, recumbency and debilitation.

When problems may occur?

Vitamin E is destroyed by oxidation: this is accelerated by poor storage, mould damage and by ensilage of forage or the preservation of cereals in moist conditions. After the crushing of oats or grinding of cereals, the fats are more rapidly oxidized and vitamin E is gradually destroyed unless the material is pelleted. Horses with no access to pasture, with the consumption of poor quality hay, may suffer of vitamin E deficiency. Moreover, do not use stale or badly stored oils within which vitamin E is oxidized. In addition, mares pasturing low selenium and vitamin E grass can give birth to foals suffering from myodegeneration (muscle disease).

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