BIOTIN (VITAMIN B7)
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is well known to most horse owners as a vitamin that supports hoof health.
It is found in most feedstuffs and commonly supplemented in equine diets. Beneficial effects on hoof growth and strength are noted with supplementation at 20 mg per day for a 500 kg horse.
- Biotin is an important cofactor for four enzymes:
- Acetyl-coA carboxylase (involved in fat synthesis)
- Pyruvate carboxylase (involved in glucose production)
- Propionyl-coA carboxylase (involved in amino acid and cholesterol metabolism)
- Beta-methylcrotonyl-coA carboxylase(involved in amino acid metabolism)
- Biotin is also essential for regulating cell division and gene expression
No specific requirement has been outlined by the NRC’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses. However, for optimal well-being biotin supplementation is recommended at 15 – 30 mg per day.
Feeding less than 15 mg is not recommended and unlikely to yield benefits to hoof health.
Typical recommendations for biotin supplementation to support hoof growth and integrity are 20 mg of biotin per day.
Biotin is relatively high in fresh alfalfa (0.49 mg / kg DM), moderately high in oats, barley and soybean meal (0.11 to 0.5 mg / kg DM) and low in corn (up to 0.1 mg / kg DM).
Biotin availability from these sources is unknown in horses, but likely highest in corn and soybean meal.
Biotin can be synthesized by microbes in the hindgut, resulting in biotin concentrations in the cecum and colon between 0.2 to 3.8 mg / kg DM. Whether this biotin can be absorbed to significantly impact biotin levels in the body is unknown.
The most common sign of biotin deficiency observed in other animals is severe dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).
Although this has not been observed in horses, suboptimal intake of biotin likely contributes to other issues. Most notably, poor hoof quality including soft white line and crumbling, fissured hoof hornhas been linked to biotin deficiency.
No symptoms of excess biotin intake have been reported.
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