Vitamin A keeps lice away. Why?
 
 

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Vitamin A keeps lice away. Why?

This is a discussion on Vitamin A keeps lice away. Why? within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Taking a vitamin to keep lice away
  • Lice and vitamin deficiency

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    03-22-2014, 10:04 PM
  #1
Teen Forum Moderator
Vitamin A keeps lice away. Why?

I don't need it proven to me that giving a horse Vitamin A keeps it's coat healthier and can be used to treat lice, because I've seen it work myself. I'm a believer! A few members here say that a healthy horse with sufficient vitamin A will not/cannot get lice, and that seems to be true to me too. However I'm curious as to what the correlation is there. I don't understand WHY it is that Vitamin A protects horses from lice. My logic, if I were a lice, would be that I'd want to feed off of a healthy animal with nice skin, not one with crap skin and nasty hair....but obviously that isn't how it works. Does anyone know WHY Vitamin A some how creates a barrier from lice for horses? Are large amounts of it toxic to lice or something?

Just me being curious xD

I also wonder why horses who are in poor health (not WEIGHT wise, but if they're wormy, missing something in their diet, etc....just looking over all unthrifty) seem to grow the big, thick, coarse winter coats and seem to keep them longer than healthy animals. I realize it is how they are protecting themselves from the elements since they aren't healthy, but its strange that their bodies put extra effort into creating dense coats like that when not even a healthy horse's will do that.
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    03-24-2014, 04:19 AM
  #2
Trained
Hi,

IME it is the unhealthy animals, with inadequate nutrition who are at risk of lice/mites. I don't recall ever coming across a healthy beast with lice, so I guess they wouldn't agree with your surmise about them! I didn't know until recently, that vitamin A was specifically associated, I've just found that animals with well balanced nutrition don't appear susceptible. Or to infections, or sunburn... etc.

Re hair, in the case of general ill health, yeah, maybe coat trying to compensate for otherwise lack of 'insulation'. But conditions such as IR & PPID are common, & commonly a cause of excessive hair coat. With cushings, keratin(& apparently often teeth too) is produced in excessive supply, so it's not just hair, but skin, hooves & chestnuts which are commonly problematic in this disease.
     
    03-24-2014, 06:44 AM
  #3
Banned
Same thoughts as loosie, havenīt thought about A=-lice, just that a healthy horse like anything else has less problems.

Will try and connect this, (it doesnīt allways work):
http://www.animalscience.ag.utk.edu/...ses4-23-03.pdf

Some people give supplements, some corn oil, I give a corn/oats mix, seems to work for them, thick shiny winter coats, need Ray-Bans to look at them when the sun comes out.
     
    03-24-2014, 11:04 AM
  #4
Teen Forum Moderator
Right. So I guess I need to rephrase my question from why does good Vitamin A keep away lice, to why is it the healthy animals that don't get it? Maybe I"m just being strange, asking such a question, and I should just be glad, but why can lice not thrive on a healthy animal? Again I'm drawing a blank here because you'd think they would want a healthy host. Is this in all hosts, regardless of special, such as cattle, dogs, birds, humans? I know we always think of lice as dirty, but can they only be spread to unhealthy HUMANS? Hmmm...

That's interesting about the cushings Loosie. Thanks. I didn't realize that keratin was one of the things being affected, and that makes a lot more sense. I have no experience with cushoids so I've never really researched it.
     
    03-24-2014, 11:15 AM
  #5
Started
I have not seen Vitamin A or anything really prevent lice, but then, I've only seen a few critters with lice and all of them were poorly cared for. They had poor diets, poor health, and also lice. So I always attributed it to the idea that a well cared for animal isn't going to have lice, because if it did, it would have been treated (sort of the definition of 'well cared for'), whereas the animals that are in poor condition are also poorly cared for, and not treated for lice if they catch it. So then lice spreads, and those animals are often kept in conditions that promote the spread of other diseases as well (limited feeding/water points, potential overcrowding, going though stock sales, etc).

I know people swear that vitamin A will keep lice away, but I honestly can't conceptualize why that would be all by itself. Ie, if you kept a horse in the exact same conditions, feed, etc, but JUST added vitamin A, I doubt it would cure them.
     
    03-24-2014, 11:32 AM
  #6
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Endiku    
Right. So I guess I need to rephrase my question from why does good Vitamin A keep away lice, to why is it the healthy animals that don't get it? Maybe I"m just being strange, asking such a question, and I should just be glad, but why can lice not thrive on a healthy animal? Again I'm drawing a blank here because you'd think they would want a healthy host. Is this in all hosts, regardless of special, such as cattle, dogs, birds, humans? I know we always think of lice as dirty, but can they only be spread to unhealthy HUMANS? Hmmm...

That's interesting about the cushings Loosie. Thanks. I didn't realize that keratin was one of the things being affected, and that makes a lot more sense. I have no experience with cushoids so I've never really researched it.
Iīv google and can not find any info that vitamin A prevents lice per say.
Will keep looking.
     
    03-24-2014, 12:06 PM
  #7
Green Broke
IIRC it's not specifically that vitamin A prevents lice, so much as vitamin A is a crucial component of a healthy immune system that is often missing in horses that get hay (instead of fresh grass) as their primary forage. Horses with a strong, healthy immune response have a high natural resistance to lice. Why that is I'm really not sure.

Lice are species-dependent (i.e. The lice that horses get are not the same that humans get, for example) and the immune system resistance factor is not part of human lice infestations that I'm aware of.
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    03-24-2014, 05:10 PM
  #8
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharpie    
So I always attributed it to the idea that a well cared for animal isn't going to have lice, because if it did, it would have been treated
Oh I think I looked after my old donkey reasonably(albeit with little good nutritional understanding at the time), but due to chronic issues(unrecognised by vets...) he was poor & got lice every year in his later life. Treating them with a powdered stuff was easy & none of the horses that lived with him ever got them.
     
    03-24-2014, 05:27 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
I've often found that horses in poor condition that I've bought have got lice but the lice never seem to return once the horse is back to good health - but I've never added extra Vitamin A to their feed above what's normally in it so I'm not seeing any connection
One thought - lice feed off the horse and one of the first things people often do when they take a horse in poor condition is to worm it and stuff like Ivermectin goes through the bloodstream and so kills anything like lice and ticks that are snacking on the horse.
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    03-24-2014, 05:35 PM
  #10
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Oh I think I looked after my old donkey reasonably(albeit with little good nutritional understanding at the time), but due to chronic issues(unrecognised by vets...) he was poor & got lice every year in his later life. Treating them with a powdered stuff was easy & none of the horses that lived with him ever got them.
Very interesting Loosie! I wonder where they were coming from anew each year or if he (or another horse) harbored them in low/unnoticed numbers in between the breakouts. Now I am more curious than ever! I agree that horse lice, unlike human or bird lice, seem to disproportionally affect sickly animals.
     

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