Vitamins and minerals play an important part in the everyday functions of every living animal, and that is especially true for horses. A Vitamin is an organic compound that is needed for an animal’s growth and metabolism. They are a necessary part of your horse’s diet because several cannot be produced biologically. In comparison, minerals are inorganic and also a necessary part of your horse’s diet.
There are many different Vitamins that play a key role in your horse’s health and are important for their well-being. It is helpful to understand the role each Vitamin has in your horse’s body and why it is important. Here are some of the most important Vitamins and what they do.
- Vitamin A – This Vitamin is often taken in through the fresh-cut hay a horse eats or through the green forages that are available to it. Horses that are not able to graze or do not have access to pastures during the winter months may require supplements. Vitamin A is necessary for proper eye function and plays a large role in your horse’s vision. It is also important for proper muscle function. Because Vitamin A is tied to reproduction, Horse and Rider reported that supplements might be helpful for mares experiencing fertility problems.
- Vitamin B – Vitamin B is produced in a horse’s large intestine. It plays an important role in the digestive tract, helping to metabolize carbohydrates and create the energy that your horse needs to be active. There are many types of Vitamin B, including Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, calcium pantothenate, biotin and niacinamide. Vitamin B1 is used to regulate the nervous system, making it useful for calming horses. Vitamin B2 is important during growth and helps with energy production. Vitamin B6 and niacinamide help with blood cell development, while Vitamin B12 and folic acid play a role in the metabolism of proteins. Biotin encourages hoof health. Calcium pantothenate is part of the metabolism process and helps to create energy.
- Vitamin C – This is an antioxidant that helps to protect your horse from harmful molecules known as free radicals. Vitamin C neutralizes them in the body. This supplement can be helpful for older horses.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is naturally produced by a horse when it is exposed to sunlight. It is important for horses to receive daily turn out in order to maintain their level of Vitamin D. It plays a large role in bone and joint health.
- Vitamin E – Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E also helps to combat free radicals and protects a horse’s cells. It also plays important roles in the nervous system and muscular system. Vitamin E is often naturally taken in by horses through grazing and eating hay. Deficiencies in Vitamin E can be linked to a lack of fresh pasture or poor-quality hay. This can lead to significant health problems. Vitamin E supplements are suggested for high-level athletic horses and pregnant mares.
Minerals are just as important to a horse’s health as Vitamins are, but are needed in small quantities. They play many important roles in the body. The essential major minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium and sulfur. Many of these minerals are absorbed naturally in a horse’s everyday diet.
Calcium and phosphorus are both important for a horse’s bone health and regular growth. They are important to focus on because the ratio of the two minerals needs to be two calcium to one phosphorus. If this ratio is not maintained, it can lead to bone problems, especially in growing horses.
In addition to the necessary major minerals, there are also trace minerals that your horse will require. These are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, iodine and cobalt.
While a lack of the necessary minerals can cause a deficiency in your horse, too much of a mineral can also be toxic. It is important to find the balance that is right for your individual horse.
U-7™ Gastric Aid is a vitamin/herbal blend that helps promote a healthy equine digestive system including the foregut and hindgut.
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