Management Partners:

Where I buy chelated calcium, B1, reishi,  pea protein, and some herbs:

Where I buy herbs, seeds, and tinctures:

Research Articles: B Vitamins for Horses with Muscular and Neurological Issues

B vitamins for horses, thiamine for horses
B vitamins for horses, thiamine for horses

B vitamins for horses: Jax and Rocky playing in the field – something Jax stopped doing when he was symptomatic.  When feeling good but not getting B1 (thiamine) and chelated calcium, play time turns into attack time, so B1 is integral in keeping these sessions tame!

Many of these B vitamin research articles are human studies, as finding a well funded and non-biased study on B vitamins in horses, let alone special case horses like PSSM and neurological horses, is pretty much impossible.  That said, a lot of my dietary trials for Jax came from these types of studies.

B Vitamins for Horses: Our Experience

I’ve found B vitamins to be incredibly helpful for a few horses – especially Jax, and particularly vitamin B1 or thiamine (see Jax’s PSSM diet for more).  B-12 is great on occasion if he needs some energy, but is too much given long term (amps him up). 

I’ve tried a couple other individual B vitamins for him on occasion, but nothing really stood out as having a major impact; that said, I’m more than willing to try them again if the need arises.  For now, he’s doing amazing, so trial and error phase is over for this guy until he says he needs something different.

Both Rocky (black and white paint in the pic above) and Bambam (EPM horse, see his story here) are on Jax’s supplements – Rocky doesn’t seem to have any health issues, but does get spooky and needs constant work to keep his mind right (plus blanketing to keep from getting stiff). 

Bambam has had fairly severe issues in the past, including anxiety and nervousness and so much more.  All three are doing amazing with the addition of vitamin B1 along with the short list of other supplements they get.  Using thiamine for horses as a calmer and a nervous system regulator seems to work for all three of these guys!

B Vitamins For Horses: Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Disorders

B Vitamins For Horses: Deficiencies and Neurological Disorders

  • Associations between B Vitamins and Parkinson’s Disease  “B vitamins may correlate with Parkinson’s disease (PD) through regulating homocysteine level…” [See Bambam’s EPM story to read more about a neurological horse doing well on Jax’s diet, including B1!]
  • Nicotinic acid decreases serum thyroid hormone levels while maintaining a euthyroid state  “These results suggest that nicotinic acid decreases serum thyroid hormone concentrations while maintaining a euthyroid state. This effect may be mediated through reduction in thyroxine-binding globulin, but other mechanisms may also be involved…”
  • B vitamins and berries and age-related neurodegenerative disorders  “The current research on B vitamins is largely inadequate to confidently assess their mechanisms of action on age-related neurocognitive disorders, their associations with disease, or their effectiveness as supplements. B vitamin supplementation may be of value for neurocognitive function, but the evidence is inconclusive…”
  • Managing a Hot Horse from a Nutritional Perspective  “A sugar-like carbohydrate, inositol is one of the lesser known B vitamins and also referred to as vitamin B8. Inositol is critical for messages sent between different cells, particularly those found in the brain and spinal tissues. The use of inositol oral supplementation has been proven highly effective in treating mental disorders in humans such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression without any known side effects. While not found frequently in equine calming supplements, this is certainly a nutraceutical that is gaining traction…  The primary role of tryptophan in the body is as a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced by the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and helps digestive movements and clotting of the blood in the case of injury. Serotonin also helps contribute to an animal’s sense of satiation and, thereby, directly impacts behavior. If an animal is satiated by its resource availability, it has been shown that he will be more agreeable and less quarrelsome. Adequate tryptophan levels and, subsequently, serotonin levels help the animal determine that he does not have to “fight” as much for resources, resulting in a more amicable horse. When humans eating diets low in tryptophan were examined, the deficiency of tryptophan also correlated with lower serotonin levels and more aggressive and depressive behaviors.”

B Vitamins For Horses: Mitochondrial Exhaustion

Using B vitamins, especially thiamine for horses with PSSM: there’s been some supposition that mitochondrial exhaustion is involved in PSSM, so these articles are particularly interesting for PSSM horses.

A note on B vitamins for horses:  I’ve recommended thiamine for horses on the PSSM Forum, and it’s one of those that helps some but not others (like everything it seems).  So while B vitamins may not be the answer for all, it’s definitely worth a try if you’re still trying to work out a good management plan for one of these sensitive horses!

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