While each vitamin is important in ensuring your horse is in tip-top condition, vitamin K is particularly crucial for horses’ bone density when they are undergoing regular strenuous exercise. For sporting or racehorses, having the strongest and healthiest bones will ultimately help give you the best results and aid in preventing injury.
WHAT IS VITAMIN K?
Equine Nutrition Assistant for Hygain, Holly Mills, explains there are actually three different types of Vitamin K. “Vitamin K1 is a transient instantaneous product of photosynthesis that can be found in green pasture, K2 can be made in the horse’s body from the liver, and then K3 is made synthetically as a supplement.
“Vitamin K is generally best known for blood clotting. It’s important that any animal, humans included, has enough vitamin K in their diet so that their blood clots effectively. So, if you get a cut, you don’t bleed out because your vitamin K levels are normal. Vitamin K3 will also do this, even if it’s not naturally made by nature or the body.
“Vitamin K is also involved in bone density and bone formation,” continues Holly. “Hygain produces a product called Bonafide, which acts as a replacement for the vitamins K1 and K2 that a horse may be lacking in their diet. Mainly what we talk about with Bonafide is it activates a compound called osteocalcin. Without sufficient vitamin K, this compound can’t do its job properly. Osteocalcin is responsible for binding minerals and protein to actually form bone. So if there is a deficiency of vitamin K it won’t work as well, whereas with sufficient vitamin K it forms proper, strong optimal bone development.”
Unfortunately, a horse with a vitamin K1 and K2 deficiency won’t display any visible symptoms. And with winter currently gripping Australia, the chances of most horses having lower than normal levels of vitamin K1 and K2 without the owners being aware are pretty high. “You really wouldn’t be able to tell unless you were getting scans, or unless they had constant fractures, or if their blood wasn’t clotting properly,” says Holly.