Multivitamin and mineral supplements can be really useful to increase a horse’s essential nutrient intake and give peace of mind if you are concerned your horse is at risk of nutritional gaps.
Specifically formulated for use in horses, Chevinal is a palatable multi-nutrient liquid supplement. With essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids, it is perfectly balanced for optimal nutrition.
There are many situations in which a horse may benefit from additional vitamin and mineral provision, but especially when they have compromised nutritional intake or digestive ability:
– Recovery after illness or surgery
– Older horses
– Horses on a poor-quality or a low intake diet
– Horses fed forage only or a straights diet.
– Breeding stock
Fighting infection and/or inflammation creates direct additional nutritional demands for a horse. Disease or medications given to treat disease can also affect metabolism, adding further nutritional pressures. These altered, or even additional metabolic processes may create elevated requirements for certain nutritional components that may not be matched by the normal equine diet. For example, many specific vitamins and minerals are essential for healing, so body stores will be depleted faster than usual. Energy and protein demands can be higher during periods of illness, the immune system needs energy and high-quality proteins to function optimally.
Altered nutritional needs during recovery can be further compounded by inappetence or ‘fussiness’ reducing feed intake or altering the overall quality of the diet that the horse actually eats.
Supplementation in these horses helps to ensure essential nutrient supply, to maintain recovery and return to normal condition.
As a horse ages, its digestive efficiency is reduced, meaning less nutrients are absorbed from the feed. While work rate may also be reduced, the feed quality requirements are even greater, to meet the changing metabolic and nutritional requirements of an older animal and ensure continued health. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C, are an important example of a nutritional element that is particularly useful to older horses.
Read more about caring for older horses
Diet quality is defined by the diet’s total nutrient content. Macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) form a large and important part of this, but careful attention should be paid to micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals too. Poor quality diets are often cheaper because they lack fortification with these important components, which can lead to nutritional gaps and failure to thrive. Low intake diets (e.g., in obese horses) will consequently have a low nutrient intake, especially if the horse is on a conserved forage only diet, where almost certainly vitamin deficiencies will occur. Supplementation to enhance the intake of essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins too will balance and optimise the nutrition of horses on a low intake diet.
The traditional horse diet of straight grains is relatively low in vitamins and trace minerals. Imbalances in micronutrients such as calcium and phosphorus can also be an issue. This can be a potential problem for all horses, but especially those with increased nutritional demands such as performance horses or breeding stock where nutrient requirements are often elevated.
Whether it be a working stallion, a broodmare or a young, growing horse, breeding stock will have the greatest requirement for essential amino acids and vitamins and minerals. Many micronutrients have essential roles in growth and development and deficiencies in breeding stock; especially in-foal mares and foals up to three-year-olds, can have potentially life-long, irreversible impacts, so adequate nutritional provision is hugely important. To learn more about feeding breeding stock click here.
Vitamins are organic molecules required in small amounts by the body to maintain essential functions. Some vitamins are considered ‘essential’, meaning that they can’t be made in the body and so must be obtained via the diet. Even for those vitamins that can be made in the body, the level of synthesis may not always be enough to support requirements.
Vitamins are divided into two broad categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. The water-soluble vitamins are the B vitamins and vitamin C. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. Typically, water-soluble vitamins have very limited storage in the body.
– B vitamins
– Vitamin C
– Vitamin A
– Vitamin D
– Vitamin E
– Vitamin K
Refers to a group of vitamins, identified by a numerical suffix (e.g., B1) or are known by their scientific name (e.g. Thiamine). All of the B Vitamins (sometimes referred to collectively as the B vitamin complex) are involved in energy release from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Many have additional important functions, such as Vitamin B7 (biotin) being important for coat and hoof health. B vitamins can also help promote a good appetite.
The microbes in the hindgut of horses are responsible for manufacturing the horses supply of B vitamins, however there are certain circumstances where it is thought that the level of production may not meet demand; e.g., when hind gut health is compromised or when the horse is under extra pressure, such as with performance horses. Daily use of B-Complete provides horses with all the essential B-vitamins for optimal metabolism, red blood cell production, and maintenance of appetite in a palatable liquid formulation.
Read more about B vitamins
Essential for normal immune system function and healing. Works closely with Vitamin E to deliver antioxidant action (see below). Vitamin C can be made in the liver of horses; however, some research has shown that providing additional vitamin C at times of stress e.g., during or after illness, or during periods of physiological stress such as a strenuous training regime, can be beneficial.
Has many important functions, including antioxidant action, eye health, skin health, immune function and reproductive health. It cannot be made in the body (although can be stored in the liver).
Necessary for calcium absorption from the gut and is therefore of particular importance in young growing horses and broodmares. Some Vitamin D can be produced by the skin from exposure to sunlight but stabling and rugs can interfere with this.
One of the most abundant antioxidants in nature, Vitamin E acts to trap and neutralise unstable particles called free radicals, which can affect cells across the body through a process known as oxidative stress.
Foran Equine’s Vitamin E Supplement provides antioxidant action in a powdered formulation that can simply be sprinkled on feed daily. V.S.L combines Vitamin E with another powerful antioxidant – selenium – as well as essential amino acid lysine, making it particularly useful for breeding animals.
Read more about antioxidants
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health and can be stored in the liver.
Trace minerals, also known as “trace elements”, are inorganic materials required by the body in small amounts to carry out essential functions. They must be provided in the diet, as the body cannot synthesise trace minerals. The body does have some capacity to store trace elements though.
As inorganic materials, absorption of trace minerals from the intestine can be poor, although this can be improved by chemically joining the mineral to a protein, or sometimes a sugar molecule, through a process known as a chelation, this ensures they are more readily absorbed.
Key trace minerals for horses:
Copper has important roles in soft tissue growth and hair pigmentation; it is also involved in red blood cell and skeletal development.
Coppervit contains chelated copper, to improve bioavailability. Fortified with manganese, vitamin E and vitamin B12, it is ideal for ongoing use in copper deficient areas. For rapid correction of copper deficiency, Copper-Max delivers the highest dose of chelated copper available for horses in an easy-to-administer oral paste, with zinc for balanced and optimal absorption.
Iron is a key element required for the formation of haemoglobin, the molecule that carries oxygen around the body, iron rarely becomes deficient in horses, but in certain circumstances it is possible for a horse to be anaemic.
Feratone contains a high concentration of iron in an easily absorbed format, as well as B vitamins to offer effective, short-term support to maximise red blood cell function and combat iron deficiency, generally veterinary advice should be sought to confirm anaemia and investigate its cause.
Selenium plays an essential role in the body’s antioxidant defence mechanisms. This is because the proper functioning of a key enzyme involved in a specific type of anti-oxidative function within the body (glutathione peroxidase), is completely dependent on selenium availability.
V.S.L contains selenium, supported by Vitamin E, to deliver powerful antioxidant action in either a powdered or liquid formulation.
Iodine has a key role in thyroid function and fertility. The thyroid hormones regulate energy use and metabolism within the body.
Cobalt is used to create Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), which has an important role in the release of energy from nutrients.
Manganese is required for carbohydrate and fat metabolism and also has a role in the production of joint cartilage.
Zinc is an important co-factor in many enzyme reactions in the body, with a particular role in hoof and skin health, and wound healing.
Only ever use supplements that are specifically developed for horses, as these will be formulated for their specific needs.
Products should be compared on both the variety and concentration of vitamins and minerals included. This outcome of this analysis should refer back to the intended purpose of supplementation. When the goal is to increase the overall nutrient content of the diet, a supplement with a broad variety of vitamins and minerals is most appropriate. Where a specific problem is suspected or identified, a targeted supplement with a high concentration of selected vitamins or minerals is more appropriate.
Quality can vary between products too. A focus on the quality of raw ingredients, ensuring the best bioavailability and thought given to the development of practical formulations is something that helps determine this. All Foran equine facilities are approved for manufacturing human-grade products and follow Good Manufacturing Process (GMP). The majority of Foran Equine products are manufactured in house, giving them tight control over the quality, safety and formulation of their supplements. This includes the sourcing of superior quality and bioavailable minerals and pharmaceutical-grade raw ingredients, as well as robust product testing, to ensure batch consistency and absolute compliance with anti-doping regulations.
Read more about Foran Equine
Finally, think about the practicalities of actually giving your horse a supplement. Various things are to be considered such as whether your horse will prefer a powder, liquid or paste formulation and are you able to give a supplement daily or would a one-off administration suit you and your individual horse best.
Pay careful attention to usage instructions, recommended feeding rates and use by dates.
Powdered formulations can often be sprinkled on feed, but of course the horse must eat all of their feed to get the full amount. Horses that are pickier about their food may benefit from a liquid or paste/gel formulation instead.
Feeding over the recommended amount can be wasteful and even dangerous for your horse. Horses have limited capacity to absorb certain nutrients such as iron. Over supplementing these nutrients, will result in the excess nutrients being eliminated – i.e. completely wasted. Other nutrients such as iodine have unlimited absorption, but over supplementing these nutrients can be toxic to a horse.
As organic molecules, vitamins are unstable over time, so vitamin concentrations and quality cannot be guaranteed if a product is used past it’s use-by date.
If you are looking for any advice on multivitamin or mineral supplements for your horse you can get in-touch with one of our equine nutrition experts.