Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that promotes health of muscle and nerve cells, among other things. Natural vitamin E, or d-alpha-tocopherol, has repeatedly been scientifically proven to be the most bioavailable form. Synthetic vitamin E, or dl-alpha-tocopherol, contains a mixture of several isomers of vitamin E, not all of which are readily absorbed, hence it is less bioavailable. That being said, synthetic vitamin E tends to be more shelf-stable and cost effective, making it a useful form to use in commercial horse feeds to help extend a product’s shelf life.
Let’s look at some numbers for comparison (IU = international unit)
- 1 IU of natural vitamin E equals 0.67 mg of alpha-tocopherol
- 1 IU of synthetic vitamin E equals 0.45 mg of alpha-tocopherol
- An additional 34% of synthetic vitamin E is needed to equal an equivalent amount of natural vitamin E
- Example: 1000 IU of natural vitamin E is roughly equivalent to 1340 IU of synthetic vitamin E
- Studies in horses suggest that natural vitamin E has 1.36-2 times more bioactivity in horses compared to synthetic.
Synthetic vitamin E is perfectly acceptable to feed, but should be given at a slightly higher inclusion rate compared to natural vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E is also a cost-effective way for commercial manufacturers to include it into products. Horses with diagnosed muscle or nerve conditions can benefit from a vitamin E supplement, and should be supplemented with natural vitamin E to maximize effectiveness.
Vitamin E and Performance
A recent study suggested that natural vitamin E may be superior to synthetic versions in mitigating oxidative and muscle cell damage in exercising horses compared to the synthetic version2. With this in mind, BUCKEYE™ Nutrition developed ULTIMATE RECOVERY™, a supplement designed to support muscle recovery and development in horses. In addition to balanced amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein), natural vitamin E is now part of the ingredient matrix.
How Ultimate Recovery with natural vitamin E can benefit your horse
There are lots of benefits packed into ULTIMATE RECOVERY. It’s the only product on the market to combine guaranteed concentrations of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help support muscle recovery and development, ingredients to support gut health (pre- and probiotics) and an antioxidant package (vitamins C and E) that help counter naturally occurring cellular damage that results from exercise, but we’ve upped our game. We’ve not only increased the amount of vitamin E in ULTIMATE RECOVERY, but we’ve done so using the natural isomer of vitamin E. That means more bioavailable vitamin E that can help support cellular repair, especially in exercising horses. ULTIMATE RECOVERY is now even better able to nutritionally support horses with neurological conditions or muscle myopathies as part of a balanced diet.
1. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed online at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
2. Fagan, M.M., Pazdro, R., Call, J.A., Abrams, A., Harris, P., Krotky, A.D., Duberstein, K.J. 2017. Assessment of oxidative stress and muscle damage in exercising horses in response to level and form of Vitamin E. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 52:80-81.
3. Finno, C.J. and Valberg, S.J. 2012. A comparative review of Vitamin E and Associated Equine Disorders. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 26: 1251-1266.