Why is high quality vitamin E and selenium crucial for optimum muscle support in racehorses? And should you be feeding it?

Racehorses in full work have high requirements for antioxidant nutrients due to the demands their exercise puts on their bodies, especially the muscles. Vitamin E and selenium are two important cellular antioxidant nutrients which play a key role in keeping body tissue, including muscles, healthy and functioning optimally.

Deficiencies of either essential nutrient will impair performance and can eventually cause disease. During exercise, micro-damage and oxidative stress occurs, which the body then counteracts with physiological changes during the rest period following. These changes are the conditioning process that gets the horse fitter, but this process relies entirely on adequate supply of all the essential nutrients to have an anabolic effect, building stronger muscles with more stamina. Vitamin E and selenium are the primary muscle cell antioxidants, which reverse oxidative stress and help the muscle get stronger and more conditioned after a training session. Thoroughbreds have a huge muscle mass - about 40% or 200 kg for a 500 kg horse, and their working muscles demand a high intake of antioxidants.

It is worth considering that vitamin E levels are often lower than required with regular feeding, especially if the thoroughbred is not turned out (pasture is a good source of vitamin E). Conserved forages including hay and haylage lose Vitamin E during processing, and neither fresh nor conserved grass contains enough selenium for horses. Compound feeds often contain low levels of vitamin E, and in such cases diets must be supplemented if the horse is expected to perform at his best. Vets and Nutritionists recommend at least 2000 IU of vitamin E daily for working horses, and levels double this amount might be appropriate in some cases.

Levels should be elevated throughout training, and not just during the racing season, so it is worth considering supplementing the diet.

Vitamin E and selenium intake should always be increased for horses with any history of tying up. A deficiency can contribute to tying up, and supplementing these nutrients after a bout will help the muscle to heal and regenerate. Post-injury or surgery, horses also have an increased requirement for antioxidants, so vitamin E and selenium should be elevated during any healing phase.

ReadySupp Vitamin E and Selenium supports optimum performance with high levels of both essential nutrients at levels recommended for maximum benefit.

All ReadySupp supplements are manufactured in the UK according to the BETA NOPS code and do not contravene FEI or Jockey Club rules.

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