Feeding a supplement that’s missing key ingredients is like trying to drive down the road without air in the tires of the vehicle. Why do so many people feed supplements that only contain a few vitamins/minerals and then expect to attain peak performance from their 4 legged partner?. My life is very busy and full and I want things to be as easy as possible – thus I want all the ingredients in one container and I expect them to do their job. It seems very time consuming to have 3-5 containers of ‘supplements’ that I must feed daily and still be missing important nutrients. Also, that means I have more waste products that I must get rid of and each product is a different size with a different suggested feeding. KISS Keep it Simple ***** That is my motto and I try to follow it.
Vitamins are essential to life – they regulate metabolism and assist the biochemical processes that release energy from digested food and are the foundation of body functions. Some are water soluble which cannot be stored in the body so therefore they must be taken into the body daily – includes Vitamin C and B-complexes. In most supplements there are only some of the B vitamins included in the ration. It is important to have all the vitamin B’s present in a ration as each one has a job to do and if one or more is missing then the ‘jobs’ are not done to the extent they should be. Sure, you will see some improvement, but if you are going to doing something do it to the best of your ability.
I am going to emphasize the B vitamins which help to maintain the health of nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and mouth as well as healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and proper brain function. They act as coenzymes, helping enzymes to react chemically with other substances and are involved in energy production. They may be useful for alleviating depression or anxiety and it has been found that hyperactivity and aggressiveness in animals can sometimes be remedied by B-complexes. Other indications for giving extra vitamins are during highly stressful situations such as traveling, separation anxiety, the show ring, during pregnancy and being a stressed mother. Sulfa drugs, hormone therapy, cortisone and drugs for high blood pressure rob you animal of some of the B-complex vitamins. These vitamins are very important for older horses because these nutrients are not as well absorbed as they age. Because B vitamins work together, a deficiency in one often indicates a deficiency in another.
1. Vitamin B1 ( Thiamine)
Thiamine enhances circulation and assists in blood formation, carbohydrate metabolism and production of hydrochloric acid which is important for proper digestion. It has a positive effect on energy, growth, normal appetite and learning capacity and is needed for proper muscle tone of the intestines, stomach and heart. Also, acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from degenerative effects.
Symptoms that can result from thiamine deficiency include constipation, edema, enlarged liver, fatigue, heart changes, irritability, labored breathing, loss of appetite, muscle atrophy, nervousness, poor coordination, weak and sore muscles and severe weight loss. Antibiotics, phenytoin (Dilantin- drug used to prevent seizures), sulfa drugs, antibiotics may decrease thiamine levels in the body and a high carbohydrate diet increases the need for thiamine.
2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin is necessary for red blood cell formation, anti-body production, cell respiration, and growth. It alleviates eye fatigue and is important in the prevention and treatment of cataracts. It aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, Together with vitamin A it maintains and improves the mucous membranes in the digestive tract. Riboflavin also facilitates the used of oxygen by the tissues of the skin, nails, and hair, eliminates dandruff, and helps the absorption of iron and vitamin B6. Consumption of adequate amounts or riboflavin is important during pregnancy because a lack of this vitamin can damage a developing fetus, it is needed for the metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into niacin in the body.
Deficiency symptoms include cracks and sores at the corners of the mouth, eye disorders, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, skin lesions, dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, insomnia, light sensitivity, poor digestion, retarded growth, and slowed mental response and stool eating. Strenuous exercise requires an increase in the need for riboflavin.
3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin is needed for proper circulation and healthy skin. It aids in the functioning of the nervous system, in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and in the production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system. It is involved in the normal secretion of bile an stomach fluids and in the synthesis of sex hormones. Other symptoms of niacin deficiency include canker sores, depression, diarrhea, fatigue, limb pain, loss of appetite, muscular weakness, skin eruptions and inflammation.
4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Pantothenic Acid is known as “the anti-stress vitamin” – Pantothenic acid plays a role in the production of the adrenal hormones and the formation of antibodies, aids in vitamin utilization and helps to covert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. It is required by all cells in the body and is concentrated in the organs. It is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters. This vitamin is an essential element of coenzyme A, a vital body chemical involved in many necessary metabolic functions. Pantothenic acid is also a stamina enhancer and prevents certain forms of anemia. It is needed for normal function of the gastrointestinal tract and may be helpful in treating depression and anxiety.
5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Pyridoxine is involved in more body functions than almost any other single nutrient affecting both physical and mental health. It is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid and the absorption of fats and protein. It also aids in maintaining sodium and potassium balance and promotes red blood cell formations. it is required by the nervous system and is needed for normal brain function and for the synthesis of the nuclei acids, RNA and DNA, which contain the genetic instructions for the reproduction of all cells and for normal cellular growth. It activates many enzymes and aids in the absorption of vitamin B12, the immune system functions and in antibody production. Vitamin B6 plays a role cancer immunity and aids in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, acts as a mild diuretic and useful in preventing oxalate kidney stones and in the treatment of allergies, arthritis and asthma.
A deficiency of can result in anemia, convulsions, impaired wound healing, inflammation of the mouth and gums, hearing problems, stunted growth, brain damage, heart and liver disease.
6. Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Cyanocobalamin is needed to prevent anemia, it aids folic acid in regulating the formation of red blood cells and help in utilization of iron. It is required for proper digestion, absorption of foods, the synthesis of protein, and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It aids in cell formation and cellular longevity. Vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, maintains fertility and promotes normal growth and development by maintaining the fatty sheaths that cover and protect nerve endings.
A deficiency can be caused by mal-absorption, which is most common in the elderly and in those with digestive disorders. Deficiency can cause abnormal gait, bone loss, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, enlargement of the liver, eye disorders, and inflammation of the tongue, irritability, labored breathing, moodiness, nervousness, neurological damage, palpitations, pernicious anemia, and spinal cord degeneration.
Biotin aids in cell growth, fatty acid production, in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and in the utilization of other B-complex vitamins. Sufficient quantities are needed for healthy hair and skin. It promotes healthy sweat glands, nerve tissue and bone marrow and helps to relieve muscle pain. Biotin strengthens hoof structure by reducing irregularities in the hoof wall that compromise the integrity of the hoof strength.
Fats and oils that have been subjected to heat or exposed to the air for any length of time inhibit biotin absorption as do antibiotics, sulfa drugs. A deficiency can result in anemia, skin disorders, hair loss, heart disease and weak muscles
Each vitamin B has important functions in the horse’s body and if some are lacking then optimal health is not obtained. The body needs ALL the B vitamins as they work together. Thus, it is very important to read the label and know what you are feeding. Feed for heath.