Supplementing fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and vitamin E, in the right amounts at the right time is critical for balanced animal nutrition. Unfortunately, these two vitamins tend to be highly susceptible to activity loss in premixes and in feed.
To balance potential vitamin losses, nutritionists often over-formulate fat-soluble vitamin levels in livestock and poultry diets. But, in times – like today – when the supply of certain vitamins is compromised and prices are unusually high, nutritionists must consider other possible solutions to maximize their vitamin investment.
To protect your animals and your business, managing vitamin storage conditions, preventing vitamin activity loss in premixes and maximizing vitamin absorption are key.
Unopened vitamin containers generally have good storage stability. However, once opened, storage conditions play a critical role in influencing the susceptibility of vitamins to activity loss. Storage factors affecting vitamin stability include temperature, oxygen, humidity, light and time, among others.
To prevent or slow vitamin degradation, producers can choose to use more stable vitamin forms (i.e. esters, beadlets, spray-drying, etc.). However, even protected vitamins can become susceptible to destruction when under certain storage conditions, like high humidity (Figure 1). Ensuring vitamins are stored in cool, dry and dark locations can help support stability, but other vitamin stability risk factors still exist.
Figure 1. Stability of two Vitamin A sources in a concentrated premix depending on storage time and relative humidity (RH).1
Premixes often contain “reactive” ingredients – choline chloride and/or inorganic trace minerals – which can also have an aggressive effect on vitamin susceptibility to destruction via oxidation.2,3 Separating vitamins from “reactive” premix ingredients until final feed manufacturing can help reduce vitamin activity loss and improve storage stability. Another option to preserve vitamin activity is the use of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules added to lipids, premixes and feed to help reduce oxidation. Antioxidants work either by sacrificing themselves to quench free radicals before fatty acids and vitamins can be attacked (primary antioxidants) or by chelating pro-oxidant metal ions – Fe, Cu, Zn, etc. – and acting as oxygen scavengers (secondary antioxidants).4
Commonly used commercial antioxidants include:
Importantly, because the oxidation process is a complex series of chemical reactions, an optimal antioxidant product needs to contain ingredients to help slow or prevent different stages of the chemical reaction chain. Traditional primary antioxidants only concentrate on the free radicals, and do not include oxygen scavengers or metal chelators. In contrast, an antioxidant system – like ENDOX® – which includes both primary and secondary antioxidants better safeguards vitamins from degradation.
To support optimal vitamin absorption, managing environmental stress and disease is critical. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract puts animals at risk of vitamin deficiency due to reduced vitamin absorption. For example, in poultry, damage to the intestinal epithelia tissue by coccidia parasites can hinder absorption of nutrients – like vitamins and fats – resulting in vitamin deficiency and increased disease severity.5 Maintenance of a healthy intestinal tract is therefore critical for vitamin absorption.
Another way to positively influence vitamin uptake is to include a nutritional emulsifier – or biosurfactant – in feed. Biosurfactants work with natural bile salts to reduce energy needed for fat digestion and absorption, thereby improving fat-soluble vitamin availability. Use of a lysolecithin-based nutritional emulsifier like LYSOFORTE® can be especially beneficial for young animals which have limited ability to digest and absorb dietary fats and fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamins and pigments.6
During times of rising feed costs, maximizing your investment in high priced ingredients, like fat-soluble vitamins, is critical to an operation’s bottom-line. By managing vitamin storage conditions, separating vitamin and mineral premixes, using protected vitamin forms and/or applying antioxidants, producers can help improve vitamin stability in premixes or in feed. Importantly, emphasizing proper gut health and using biosurfactants can support optimal vitamin absorption.
1DSM. Factors affecting vitamin requirements and vitamin utilization. https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/Compendium/vitamin_basics/vitamin_stability.html. Accessed on May 18, 2021.
2Yang, P., et al. 2019. Effects of Choline Chloride, Copper Sulfate and Zinc Oxide on Long-Term Stabilization of Microencapsulated Vitamins in Premixes for Weanling Piglets. Animals, 9:1154-1176.
3Shurson, G. et al. 2011. Effect of metal specific amino acid complexes and inorganic trace minerals on vitamin stability in premixes. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 163:200-206.
4Kerr, B., et. al. 2015. Characteristics of lipids and their feeding value in swine diets. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, 6:30.
5Jarujareet, W. et al. (2018). Eimeria tenella oocyst excretion and riboflavin supplement in infected chicken. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 80(9):1392-1394.
6Ravindran, V. et al. (2016). Fats in poultry nutrition: digestive physiology and factors influencing their utilization. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 213:1-21.
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