The agricultural industry is under global pressure. Due to an international supply chain crisis, combined with sky-high energy prices and low demand for meat in general, meat producers find themselves in a ‘perfect storm’. The outlook for the coming months remains tough, both on the input and the output sides, making creativity a critical quality to survive. Meanwhile, nutritionists have their hands full trying to balance formulas to be highly digestible and cost-effective. Finding new solutions in the coming months is necessary to survive and will require recalculating enzyme proportion as well as re-evaluating vitamin, mineral, and trace element suppliers. Especially since, next to quality and price, availability is an important part of the decision.

Low hanging fruit in optimizing feed formulas

As with other vitamins, the price of vitamin E (Vit. E) today is extremely high (> 11 euro/kg), its availability is uncertain, and the outlook for the coming months is not good either. While most of the ingredients used in a diet are essential and can hardly be replaced or reduced, there are still options to optimize costs without endangering animal performance. In this aspect, when done in a smart way, Vit. E is a great candidate for reduction.

The combination of high prices and low availability of Vit. E is comparable with the situation we faced at the end of 2017. At this time, a force majeure occurred after a factory incident at one of the largest suppliers of Vit. E. Then, producers had to search for alternatives. Agrimprove provided Vitanox, a scientifically proven alternative to help in a Vit. E reduction strategy. Since then, millions of animals are fed lower Vit. E levels when combined with Vitanox. The result is successful both technically and economically. When Vit. E prices dropped in the second half of 2018 customers continued to use Vitanox since it was still considered a favorable alternative.

 Vitanox and Vitamin E: a powerful combination

Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble compound exclusively obtained from the diet. It has numerous important biological roles ranging from cellular respiration, reproduction, immune response, coenzyme synthesis, and detoxification to serving as a biological antioxidant. In times of stress, a tremendous portion of supplemented Vit. E is metabolized for the antioxidant effect, leaving less available for other necessary physiological processes. A powerful polyphenol combination, Vitanox supports antioxidant activities and spares large amounts of Vit. E for other roles. Vitanox is developed to easily replace Vit. E at a 1:1 ratio, simplifying formula changes for nutritionists. Of course, there will still be a need for Vit. E but this need is much lower.

Figure 1: Functions of vitamin E.

Vitanox: Proven ex vivo, confirmed in vitro

During the development of Vitanox, Agrimprove performed a thorough screening of plant polyphenols, which provide powerful natural antioxidant activity in animals. In contrast to simple in vitro tests, the selection of the best components for Vitanox was done using a Boyden chamber–which contains an intestinal epithelial cell layer—to mimic an ex vivo trial. Both the intracellular oxidative stress and the permeability of the epithelial layer were assessed.

Figure 2: Boyden Chamber model: One monolayer of enterocytes with luminal and serosal sides.

Results of these ex vivo trials clearly show the intracellular antioxidative capacity of Vitanox after oxidative stress induction by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Vitanox protects the intestinal cell against oxidation and preserves intestinal integrity with similar effectiveness as Vit. E.

Chart 1: Boyden chamber results. Left: Intracellular oxidative stress measured by fluorescence method. Right: Luminal determination of macromolecules passage intracellularly.

The confirmation by in vitro trials shows the significance of the ex vivo data does translate to improved performance when Vitanox replaces Vit. E in pigs, poultry, and cattle. The feed conversion ratios were especially improved in broilers (-3 pts) and pigs (-4 pts), while the feed efficiency in dairy cattle seemed to be positively affected when administering Vitanox. These results are more pronounced when animals face stressors like heat or disease.


Based on this information, nutritionists and feed producers can consider fine-tuning Vit. E inclusion levels by including Vitanox without compromising long-term animal health and performance. Although no alternative exists to replace all the functions of Vit. E, its important antioxidant role can be perfectly fulfilled with the cost-effective alternative Vitanox, resulting in:  

  • Lower feed costs  
  • Maintained antioxidant status  
  • Better animal performance 

Your Agrimprove expert

Kobe Lannoo
Global lead swine