Hoof Nutrition IntelligenceHoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month website feature that zeroes in on specific areas of hoof nutrition. Below you will find the latest question-and-answer installments you can share with horse owners.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: I know vitamin E is tied closely to selenium, so does it have an impact on hoof growth and quality?

By Kathleen Crandell

Vitamin E is one of only two important vitamins that the horse cannot produce itself and therefore must be provided in the diet. This vitamin requires a small amount of fat in order to be properly absorbed, which is why it is considered a fat-soluble vitamin. Grazing horses usually get enough fat from green grass to satisfy this need.

The various roles of vitamin E in nerve and muscle function, in immune response and antioxidant action make it vital to the health of young, growing horses. Together with selenium, vitamin E acts to maintain normal muscle function, aids in the prevention of muscular disease, and provides antioxidant protection to body tissue, particularly cell membranes, enzymes and other intracellular substances, from damage induced by oxidation.

A deficiency of vitamin E may cause a variety of different symptoms and pathological changes, which may include nutritional muscular dystrophy (weak and poorly oxygenated muscles) and poor immunity to diseases (such as a recurrent cold and cough). Both vitamin E and selenium may help leukocytes and macrophages survive the negative effects of toxic products that are produced when invading bacteria are destroyed.

Vitamin E is found in fresh green forage, and horses consuming an adequate quantity of green forage have not been found to have a vitamin E deficiency. However, vitamin E rapidly disappears during harvesting of hay, with 30% to 85% being lost initially and further loss occurring during storage. The amount of vitamin E in hay is quite variable, depending on the type of forage and the harvesting procedures. Because of the large number of horses that have access only to hay as a forage, manufacturers routinely add vitamin E to commercial feed mixes.

Vegetable oils are relatively high in vitamin E but are generally not fed in sufficient quantities to make a big impact on the supply of this vitamin in the diet. The increasing popularity of high-fat feeds may have an impact on the fortification of vitamin E in feeds, since these feeds require extra vitamin E to prevent oxidation of fat in the feed.

Horses are not very efficient in storing vitamin E, although body stores may contain sufficient vitamin E to cover 4 months of inadequate winter intake in a well-repleted adult. Foals born to mares depleted in vitamin E may have little or no reserves, which would make them more susceptible to infectious diseases. No signs of vitamin E toxicity in the horse have been reported.

Kathleen Crandell is an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research. Located in Versailles, Ky., the firm is an international research, consulting and product development firm working in the areas of equine nutrition and sports nutrition.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.

Click here to read Part 1 of the January 15, 2017 installment: Are some horses more susceptible to laminitis during the winter months? What should I be looking for?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.