08 Jun 2022

Vitamin B and its importance in your horse’s diet

Vitamin B is an umbrella term for many sub-types of B vitamins, including biotin, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. These B Vitamins are utilized in the horse’s body from either organic food compounds, or by microbes in the horse’s gut.

Just like humans, horses need many key vitamins and minerals in their diet to function both mentally and physically well. When not on full, highly nutritional grass access, a horse will need hay, grain, or supplements added to their daily food intake to round out their nutritional needs.

Why is vitamin B important for horses?

Each of the eight essential B vitamins offer unique benefits for horses:

B1 – Thiamine – Is vital for metabolizing carbs. Deficiencies in Vitamin B1 can lead to lack of appetite and nervousness.
B2 – Riboflavin – Supports energy metabolism and the production of immune cells.
B3 – Niacin – Aids in energy transfer in the body.
B5 – Panthothenic acid – Helps breakdown fat and protein
B6 – Pyridoxin – An essential factor in energy production and assists amino acid metabolism.
B7 – Biotin – Supports integrity of cells.
B9 – Folic acid – Supports division of cells, growth and red blood cell production.
B12 – Cobalamin – Encourages blood production and helps the body metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Do horses get enough vitamin B in their daily diet?

Many horses on a normal diet can function just fine without added B vitamins. They get some B vitamins through grazing and eating hay, a few commercial feeds on the market contain added vitamins and minerals as well. Microorganisms, primarily in the hind gut, synthesize vitamins which are then absorbed through the intestinal wall.

When do horses need additional vitamin B supplementation?

Although a normal diet will generally cover a horse’s basic daily needs, there are some circumstances when supplemented vitamin B could be beneficial. Because many B Vitamins are created by the microflora of the hind gut, it is helpful to increase Vitamin B supplements whenever a horse has difficulties with microbial production.

An example would be a senior horse with digestive difficulties due to age, horses with poor quality forage or low fiber diets, ones that are ill or have considerable parasite burdens, or performance horses under stress of high exertion.

Do I need to worry about giving too much vitamin B to my horse?

 All vitamins are divided into two categories: fat and water soluble. If it is possible for a vitamin to be dissolved in water (water soluble), then your horse’s body can dispose of any excess through urination. Because vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin, it will not build up in the horse’s body. This means that new vitamin B must be added consistently through diet but overdosing or toxicity is not an issue because excess B vitamins are expelled rather than stored.

On the other hand, fat soluble vitamins, can be stored by the body for longer periods within your horse’s fat stores. Because these vitamins are not easily disposed of, too much can build up resulting in toxicity. After a significant diet alteration, such as moving to a grass pasture, deficiencies can take some time before they start to become apparent because built up reserves are stored in the body. An example of a fat-soluble vitamin that could build up leading to toxicity if over supplemented is vitamin A. However, for water-soluble B vitamins, there is no need to worry about providing too much because the horse’s body will naturally balance it.

What is a good vitamin B supplement?

Rosehip is the fruit that grows on the blossom of a wild rose plant called Rosa canina. These rose plants grow mostly in Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. Rosehips naturally contain vitamin C, E and B complex vitamins, as well as other antioxidants and minerals.  Many believe rosehip to be a safer alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Unlike NSAIDs, rosehip grows naturally, and does not appear to thin the blood or cause stomach irritation and possible ulcers.

Elite Equine offers organic, competition legal, pure rosehip supplement, full of B complex vitamins. Sourced from wild-harvested rosehips grown in Lesotho, South Africa, Elite Equine offers powerful anti-inflammatory and immune system support for equine joint, hoof, and coat health. Many other supplements on the market contain added ingredients. Elite Equine is free from animal products (including shellfish), gluten, fillers, or genetically modified components. Shop Elite Equine today to keep your horse healthy, happy and nutritionally balanced.