Vitamins and Your Horse

Everyone knows that all living things need vitamins...even horses.

But did you ever stop to think what they actually do once they are inside your (or your horse's) body?

They are, according to the dictionary:

"One of a group or organic substances essential in small quantities to normal metabolism, found in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs or sometimes produced synthetically. Deficiencies produce specific disorders."

OK...tells us a little bit, but not a lot. We now know they are used in metabolism. But how? We also know that if we don't have enough of them, they produce disorders. Which disorders?

The opposite is also true...get too much of one, and you can also get health problems -- this is referred to as vitamin toxicity.

So, let's answer some of these questions.


The fat-solubles are Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Just like the name implies, they are soluble in fat. That is why it is important to have at least a certain percentage of body mass as fat -- if your horse doesn't have enough fat, he can't utilize these correctly.

Fat-solubles are stored in the body in fat. Thus, if there is a deficiency in the diet, the body will be able to survive for a period of time by using the stores.

However, toxicity levels are also easier to reach when one of these is over-consumed. These are not easily flushed out of the body when there is an excess.

Vit. A
Vit. D
Vit. E
Vit. K


Water-soluble vitamins include all the B-vitamins as well as C.

Again, just like the name implies, these are soluble in water. Because they are soluble in water, they are easily flushed out of the body through the urine.

Thus, dietary deficiencies of these are going to cause problems sooner than deficiencies of fat-solubles.

However, on the flip side, toxic levels of these are hard to reach, because they ARE flushed out of the body.

Vit. B6, B12, and pantothenic acid
Niacin (B3)
Folate/Folic Acid
Thiamin (B1)
Riboflavin (B2)
Vit. C

Hopefully this look at vitamins has helped you more fully understand exactly what they do for your horse.

They may be small, but they are very important!

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