Your Guide to Natural Horse Vitamins

Natural horse vitamins are an important part of natural horse nutrition. Vitamins are needed to help your horse mature, maintain energy and performance, and help prevent health problems.

Natural horse vitamins means providing your horse with the proper balance of vitamins based on their age, weight, and use, and not just guessing at what the right amounts are. Deciphering all of the information out there on this subject can be quite confusing. Hopefully, this information will help you learn about the different vitamins, the recommended amounts, why the amounts are important, and how to provide them in your horse’s diet.

What are the different natural horse vitamins?

A brief description is provided about the function of each vitamin:

  • Vitamin A is important for growth and vision.
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is important in the processing of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It can also calm nervous horses.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is important for energy production and growth.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is important for metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) is important in converting proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into energy.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pryidoxine) is important in energy production and blood cell development.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin) is important for a healthy coat and hooves.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) is important for red blood cell development.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is important for metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and maintaining the manufacturing of red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C is important to the immune system and eliminates damaging free radicals.
  • Vitamin D is important in the processing of calcium.
  • Vitamin E is important in respiration, membrane stability, and fertility.

What are the nutritional requirements of natural horse vitamins?

In 1989, the National Research Center (NRC) published their recommendations on equine nutrient requirements. The NRC recommended a mature 1,000 lb. horse at maintenance receive the following daily vitamin amounts; known percentages are notated after the daily amounts:

Vitamin A 13,608IU 822.57IU/lbs
Vitamin B1 27mg
Vitamin B2 18mg
Vitamin C No more than 10g
Vitamin D 2,251IU 136IU/lbs
Vitamin E 375IU 22.7IU/lbs


The NRC did not include vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (Biotin), vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), and vitamin K in their 1989 recommendations. To find out more about the recommendations of natural horse vitamins, please click here for more up to date information.

How important are the amounts of natural horse vitamins?

While your horse receives some vitamins from hay, pasture, and grain, you should have your hay analyzed to help you determine what vitamins and amounts are truly needed. Your county or state agricultural office can test your hay. The National Forage Testing Association can help you locate a lab near you if you are unable to find one. Phone: 402 333-7485; E-mail: NFTA@TCONL.COM; website:  The following is information about health problems that can arise from vitamin deficiencies and overdoses:

  • vitamin A deficiency may result when there is not enough green pasture. Horses that are exercised may need more.
  • A severe vitamin B deficiency may result in severe skin problems, anemia, neurological problems, and can even cause death. Horses that are ill, stressed, or are at a performance level may benefit from supplementation.
  • vitamin C overdose can result in diarrhea, iron toxicity, anemia, and liver problems.
  • vitamin D deficiency can result in lameness, swollen joints, and weak bones. An overdose can result in appetite and weight loss, calcification of heart and blood vessels, stiffness and pain, and can even cause death. Horses that have exposure to sunlight normally receive enough. Stalled horses should have enough if their hay consumption is half of their diet, by weight.
  • vitamin E deficiency may result in severe muscular and neurological problems and hinder the immune system. Deficiencies may occur in horses that are exercised, stalled, and fed hay.What horse vitamin supplement is right for your horse?No vitamin supplement is right for every horse because the natural horse vitamins and their amounts vary in pastures and hay, even those of the same kind. You need to determine how much hay, pasture, and grain your horse eats, the vitamin amount in each based on the amount eaten, and then see what vitamins and amounts your horse is lacking. Then, do your shopping for a vitamin supplement that comes closest to the recommended amounts. If you find it hard to locate a supplement that just contains vitamins, look for one that contains the vitamins and minerals that is closest to what your horse needs. Just remember that natural horse vitamins are important for your horse’s health and it will take some research to determine what is the best supplement for your horse.

    What about free choice natural horse vitamins?

    Some horse owners like to give their horses the opportunity to choose what vitamins they want by offering them free choice. If this is something you are interested in, Advanced Biological Concepts (ABC Plus) offers free choice vitamins and minerals.

    Are there any natural sources of natural horse vitamins?

    Natural sources of vitamins are sunlight, fresh grass, wheat products, brans, whey, alfalfa meal, molasses, and brewer’s yeast.
    Spirulina is a natural source of vitamin A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, vitamin K, biotin, pantothenic acid, and beta carotene (source of vitamin A). Click here to learn more about the benefits of spirulina.
    Bee pollen is also a natural source of provitamin A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (group), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, choline, and inositol. Click here to learn more about the benefits of bee pollen, another source of natural horse vitamins.

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