Recently a yard owner asked us a question on Vitamin C, well two questions really. He wanted to know why we go on about Vitamin C when the Lady from his feed company said it is not included in their horse nuts as it was not needed and is Ascorbic acid the same as Vitamin C?
The answer to the first question perhaps epitomises a lot of the difference between remedial or recovery nutrition and maintaining nutrition for horses. The Lady from the feed company is quite right although it would have been better to say not necessary as opposed to not needed this is because horses are quite capable of making their own Vitamin C themselves only Humans, Primates and Guinea Pigs cannot to this and only following a trauma or ill health do horses sometimes need assistance, and this is where we come in as recovery and convalescent nutrition is much of what we do.
Vitamin C is very important and has many functions. We all know how quickly a room, house or property deteriorates and falls into disrepair without constant washing and cleaning, the body is the same and it is Vitamin C that is the cleaner and just as things get in a worse mess when things go wrong so when faced within hours of any kind of stress or trauma the body increases production of Vitamin C by sometimes as much as 500% in quick time. Being a thrifty animal and having evolved to cope with trauma horses can usually cater with this sudden need to produce more Vitamin C but if one trauma occurs shortly after another or the horse is already in a less than healthy state this may not be so easy to achieve and serum Vitamin C drops and in doing so, so the troubles begin.
Besides stress and trauma, Vitamin C production by the horse’s manufacturing process can be impeded by a lack of cellular balance due to a sudden or progressive loss of potassium, a deficiency or nutrient shut out of Vitamin E and importantly cellular energy, of which potassium, vitamin C plus iodine are an integral part of its creation in the first place. Mindful of this we try to help on such occasions with immediates like SETBACK SALTS which contains potassium and Vitamin C and TPGS-5 with its high speed water-soluble Vitamin E.
Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. In foods where Vitamin C naturally occurs it is as Vitamin C Complex which is a mixture of ascorbic acid and bioflavonoids often referred to as Vitamin P. Metabolically ascorbic acid can work on its own but bioflavonoids cannot but together they work better. It does Vitamin C a disservice to describe its benefits in such elementary terms but for simple reference think of ascorbic acid doing the washing and hovering of the large blood vessels and bioflavonoids the tiny capillaries.
Vitamin C was discovered by the Hungarian physiologist Dr Albert Szent-Györgyi who first called it Hexuronic acid and that it looked like ordinary granulated sugar. Several years later it became Ascorbic Acid and subsequently Vitamin C. Albert Szent-Györgyi received the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1937 and prophesied so rightly that “Vitamins, if properly understood and applied will help us to reduce human suffering to an extent which the most fantastic mind would fail to imagine”.