The benefits of adding bio-available vitamin c and flavonoids to the diet of a working horse
Horses manufacture their own supply of vitamin c from glucose which is used in the development of collagen, maintenance of blood vessels, repair of ligaments, muscle and for bone growth. Vitamin c is a potent anti oxidant and helps buffer against the damage done by free radicals, working horses may benefit from supplementation particularly if provided in conjunction with other flavonoids. Some flavonoids contain chemicals called proanthocyanidins which help support normal respiratory function.
During exercise, oxygen consumption and the production of free radicals increases causing oxidative stress and adverse effects on vital cellular structures involved in physical activity.
Skeletal muscle contraction produces reactive oxygen species (free radicals). Prolonged and intense exercise may impair normal muscle function by producing higher levels of free radicals, the result is weakness and fatigue.
Vitamin C directly benefits performance
To evaluate the oxidative stress produced by exercise and the role of vitamin C as an antioxidant, venous blood samples were obtained from 14 thoroughbred racehorses, before and after a 1000±200-m race at maximum velocity.The horses had been supplemented with 60gms of a proprietary blend for two weeks prior to running.
After the race the anti oxidant capacity and antioxidant reactivity of the blood had increased suggesting that the administration of vitamin c could buffer against the effects of normal oxidative stress produced by horses working.
However supplementation with synthetic vitamin c is not as effective, Snow D.H. et al Oral administration of ascorbic acid (vitamin c ) to horses. Equine Veterinary Journal (1987) 19 (6) 520-523.
This paper showed that plasma increases occurred after 3 weeks of supplementation whilst oral supplementation of a proprietary blend showed an increase in serum vitamin c of 20% two hours following supplementation and 25% increase 4 hours after supplementation.