Vitamins are necessary for maintaining life and optimising the supply of vitamins is important for ideal productivity.
The need for vitamins varies from a few micrograms to several milligrams a day – depending on the individual vitamin and the animal’s age and its physiological condition.
Vitamins are usually divided into water-soluble vitamins, which need to be given in sufficient quantities on an ongoing basis, and fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in the animal’s fatty tissue, enabling them to accumulate in the body.
As the vitamin content of the produce we use can vary depending on harvest quality and storage, we always base our calculations solely on the admixed content of vitamins.
Vitamins are required for correct absorption and utilisation of the feed’s other nutrients.
If there is a deficiency of just a single vitamin, this can destabilise an animal’s physiological condition.
Vitamins are also important components of the body’s enzymatic system.
B1 (Thiamine): Vitamin B1 is important for converting carbohydrate into glucose. When the body burns glucose energy is created, which is important for enabling the heart, brain, muscles, etc., to function.
B2 (Riboflavin, previously called vitamin G): Vitamin B2 is important for metabolising protein in particular, but also fat and carbohydrates. Vitamin B2 is also important for growth, skin, nails, hair, lips and tongue and for vision.
B3 (Niacin): Niacin is the common term for nicotinamide and nicotinic acid, which are significant for energy metabolism. These enzymes take part in metabolising glucose, amino acids and fats, and are important for energy conversion and building up new chemical compounds.
B6 (Pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 is a common term for the three chemically-related compounds pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. These three substances are all converted into two coenzymes (helper molecules) in the body that help to convert protein’s individual components (amino acids), fat and nucleic acids (dna).
B12 (Cobalamine): Vitamin B12 is needed when cells divide. The red blood cells belong to cells that divide the most often, which is why a severe deficiency of vitamin B12 causes anaemia. Vitamin B12 is also needed to maintain nerve cells and create new ones.
Biotin (previously called vitamin H): Biotin is a coenzyme (helper molecule) which helps to metabolise fat and carbohydrates. Biotin also helps to produce urea and metabolise amino acids and is important in strengthening animal hoofs.
C (Ascorbic acid): Vitamin C is important for developing strong connective tissue and the body’s immune response, which, among other things, protects against viruses, bacteria, etc.
As vitamin C is unstable, it is often not mixed into pig-feed compounds, nor has the Danish Pig Research Centre (SEGES) issued standards for feed’s content of vitamin C.
Folic acid: Folic acid is needed to produce red blood cells (which transport oxygen throughout the body). Normally, it is only added to feed for gestating and nursing sows.
Pantothenic acid: Pantothenic acid is essential for metabolism. It is also a building block of coenzyme A, which is needed to synthesise and metabolise fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy. The vitamin is also used for the production of adrenocortical hormones, bile acid, cholesterol and sex hormones.
A (Retinol): Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin required for, among other things, vision, reproductive ability, immune response, the regulating of genes, mucous membranes, skin and growth.
D (cholecalciferol): Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) increases the intestinal absorption of calcium and is needed for the metabolising of calcium and phosphate by bones and teeth. In addition, vitamin D apparently plays a crucial role in preventing an excessively active immune response.
Vitamin E (tocopherol): Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Vitamin E prevents the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the body. Vitamin E also protects cells membranes from being damaged by harmful substances in the lipid perioxidation process. The common industrial form of vitamin E is based on acetate, which suckling pigs cannot absorb due to their inability to split off acetate. Therefore, natural vitamin E should be used for suckling pigs because it has an alcohol form rather than an acetate form. Natural vitamin E is substantially costlier and more unstable that the acetate version.
For the first two months or so after harvest, it advisable to add extra vitamin E to counteract the negative effects of grain fed during its “sweat” period (toxicity in newly-harvested grain).
K (Phylloquinone): This vitamin was identified and named by Danish scientist Henrik Dam who used the letter K for the Danish word for coagulation (koagulation). Vitamin-K deficiency increases bleeding disorders.
Under ideal conditions, naturally occurring bacteria in the animal’s intestines contribute up to half of the vitamin K required in the form of Vitamin K2 (menaquinone).