Horses - Diet and Nutrition/B12 shots


QUESTION: hi ma'am. hope this question is within your expertise. may i know the benefits of B12 shots for performance horses? are they safe to use? if yes, how frequently to use them on thoroughbred racehorses?

ANSWER: Hello Roberts,

Thank you for your question.  When it comes to the benefits of injecting B12, you may be best of consulting with a veterinarian.  I'm only comfortable providing nutritional advice.  From a nutrition perspective, vitamin B12 plays a role in fatty acid, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism.  Vitamin B12 can be produced in the cecum as a by-product of the bacterial fermentation of forages.  The NRC's Nutrient Requirements of Horses suggests that 'No evidence of a dietary vitamin B12 requirement above that supplied by intestinal synthesis has been reported'  suggesting there is no need to supplement B12 in any form.  Although one could question whether or not a horse on a very low forage (high grain) diet, or one who's hindgut is extremely compromised, may require additional supplementation.  Relatively simple blood tests will tell you if a deficiency exists, and answer your question about the need to supplement.  I hope that helps.

Thanks, Corlena

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for the answer ma'am. our local racehorse trainers are very greedy. they feed their horses less grains and forage but give B12 shots every week expecting a peak result.

so my question is, does it lead to death of the animal if they injected with protein(B12) shots frequently(every week)?

Hello Roberts,

Vitamin B12 is water soluble, and excess amounts B12 will be excreted from the body through feces..  The NRC Nutrient Requirements suggests that Vitamin B12 toxicity has been described in horses.  Again, when it comes to injecting compounds I would recommend the advice of a veterinarian.

Thanks, Corlena

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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