3 Tips for Surviving the Vitamin A & E Supply Crisis

3 Tips for Surviving the Vitamin A & E Supply Crisis
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Signs or symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency

  • Growth impairment
  • Abnormal skin and mucous membrane changes
  • Stillbirth and sterility
  • Increased susceptibility to disease

Sources of Vitamin A 

  • Cod liver oil, whole milk, fishmeal
  • Precursor beta carotene, carrots 

Function of Vitamin A

  • Builds, protects and regenerates the skin and mucous membranes
  • Promotes fertility by improving ovulation, implantation and hormonal pregnancy activation
  • Regulates growth and differentiation process in the cell metabolism by transfer of 300 previously identified genes (transcription and gene expression)
  • Strengthens the immune system 

Table 1: Vitamin A requirement per species in International Units (IUs)

SpeciesVitamin A
Broiler8000 IU
Turkey10000 - 6000 IU
Laying Hen8000 IU
Sow10000 IU
Piglet10000 IU
Fattening pigs5000 IU
Cow100000 IU
Calf20000 IU

1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg retinol, or of 0.6 μg beta-carotene.
Source: DSM Vitamin Supplementation Guidelines 2016 for animal nutrition

Signs or symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency

  • Muscle damage to heart and skeletal muscles
  • Fertility disorders
  • Changes in the vascular and nervous system
  • Impaired immune system

Sources of Vitamin E

  • Young green fodder
  • Wheat and maize seedlings
  • Plant oils 

Function of Vitamin E

  • Preserves membranes in certain muscles
  • Preparation and protection of pregnancy
  • Species-specific benefits (less mastitis, better meat quality)
  • May protect fatty acids, the building blocks of phospholipid cell membranes
  • Regulation of gonadal development and function
  • Antioxidant activity in cell metabolism
  • May act as antioxidant in living membranes
  • Protection against endogenous and exogenous free radicals 

Table 2: Vitamin E requirement per species

SpeciesVitamin E
Broiler150 mg
Turkey20 - 50 mg
Laying Hen15 mg
Sow60 mg
Piglet60 mg
Fattening pigs50 mg
Cow500 mg
Calf500 mg

Source: DSM Vitamin Supplementation Guidelines 2016 for animal nutrition

Tip 1: Adjust your Vitamin A and E levels to the requirements

Reduce to high levels in relation to the requirements. Refer to the above tables for Vitamin A and Vitamin E requirements per species. Cutting back a bit will help you to control costs.

Tip 2: Use higher levels of artificial antioxidants to stabilize your feeds

It’s not uncommon to use Vitamin E as a stabilizer for oxidative-sensitive constituents like fats, oils, full fat soja beans, rapeseeds, grains, corn (maize) etc.

Instead, replace Vitamin E with artificial antioxidants that serve the same purpose, such as BHA, BHT, Propyl gallate, or ascorbic acid.

A complete list of antioxidants can be found in the EU Register of Feed Additives in the category of functional feed additives, group 1b, on page 72.

Similarly, consider using more Vitamin C or ascorbic acid in the diets.

Tip 3: Use novel polyphenol products and natural antioxidants to support or spare Vitamin E

Note: this method is not scientifically proven. However, some support the idea of using novel polyphenol products and natural antioxidants in order to achieve a ‘vitamin sparing’ effect.

If you want to pursue this strategy, start by looking at these options:

  • Grape kernel products
  • Grape extracts
  • Rosemary oil
  • Resveratrol

Ultimately, Vitamin A and Vitamin E production will likely recover—and hopefully bring relief to feed formulators. These tips may help you during the bridge period. Good luck.