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B Vitamins are crucial for health and body function, with roles in performance, growth, reproduction, energy maintenance, and immune system function.

What are B vitamins?

B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that each have unique chemical names and functions within the body. They are often referred to collectively as the B vitamin complex.

What do B vitamins do for horses?

B vitamins have important roles in cell metabolism, processing protein, carbohydrates, and fats into energy. Many have additional roles related to nerve transmission, immunity, and red blood cell production.

Eight of the B vitamins are considered essential, meaning that they can’t be made by the horse and so must be provided via the diet.

  • Vitamin B1: thiamine
  • Vitamin B2: riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3: niacin
  • Vitamin B5: pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6: pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B7: biotin
  • Vitamin B9: folic acid
  • Vitamin B12: cobalamin

 

Vitamin B1: thiamine

Plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, acting as a co-enzyme to support the transformation of nutrients into energy. Deficiencies in thiamine can lead to poor appetite and nervousness.

Vitamin B2: riboflavin

Important in the metabolism of nutrients into energy, with additional roles facilitating the transformation of other B vitamins into forms that can be used by the body.

Vitamin B3: niacin (nicotinamide)

As well as its involvement in energy metabolism, niacin exerts an antioxidant effect, helping to repair DNA damage.

Vitamin B5: pantothenic acid (calcium pantothenate)

Specifically involved in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy, pantothenic acid is also critical for the creation of red blood cells and certain hormones.

Vitamin B6: pyridoxine

Important for normal brain development and keeping the nervous and immune systems functioning correctly.

Vitamin B7: biotin

Supports normal nervous system function, important for the normal functioning of some hormone glands and essential for growth and repair of skin and hooves.

Vitamin B9: folic acid

Important for red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth and function.

Vitamin B12: cobalamin

Vital roles in red blood cell and DNA formation, as well as the development and function of the nervous system.

B Complete is a complete B Vitamin supplement for horses, maximising the diet for energy production and supporting essential body processes.


Where does my horse get B Vitamins from?

As they are water-soluble, B vitamins are not stored by the body and any excess supply is lost in the urine. B vitamins are plentiful in grass and some cereal grains, and microorganisms, primarily in the hind gut, synthesise B vitamins which are then absorbed through the intestinal wall.

While healthy adult horses can usually produce adequate levels of B vitamins, there is a difference between the minimum requirements to prevent deficiency symptoms and optimum requirements for maximum performance. This is why supplementation with a complete B-Vitamin supplement for horses, such as B-Complete, can be beneficial.

What horses should receive a B Vitamin supplement? 

B Vitamin supplementation may be beneficial in situations such as:

  • Horses with reduced appetite
  • Horses with diets low in fibre or receiving poor-quality forage
  • During times of stress or high exertion, for example travelling, racing and competing
  • Whenever the hindgut microflora may be compromised – e.g. dietary changes, disease (including diarrhoea), parasitic burden or antibiotic use
  • Elderly horses with reduced digestive ability

The palatable formulation of B-Complete not only provides horses with essential B-Vitamins, but the inclusion of a prebiotic supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the hindgut, optimising feed utilisation and aiding digestion.

What are the benefits of giving horses a B Vitamin supplement?

As key nutrients regulating energy release, B vitamins can impact a horse’s energy levels, appetite, and nervous behaviour – qualities which are important to high performance equine athletes. Daily supplementation of B vitamins via the diet can be very effective to support optimal performance, as they are readily absorbed and utilised when needed, with no risk of over-supplementation.

Suitable for all horses with a requirement for maximum energy production, B-Complete contains all the B Vitamins that are vital for optimal metabolism and blood cell formation, as well as promoting appetite during times of increased stress or fatigue. To support muscle development for performance horses, youngstock, and during sales preparation, Muscle Max combines essential B Vitamins with key antioxidants and the essential amino acid, lysine.

References

-Manthe, B. N. and Youngs, C. R. (2013) An Overview of Vitamin Requirements of the Domestic Horse. Natural Sciences Education, 42(1), 179-184. DOI: 10.4195/nse.2012.00002

 

 


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