Foliphos – How should it be used?

The provision of Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), folic acid and butaphosphan (organic phosphorus) is pivotal to the needs of the exercising horse. Most importantly, the various roles in red blood cell synthesis and energy production/utilisation.

Why use injectable sources of Vitamin B12, folic acid and butaphosphan?

The benefit of injectable sources is the rapid distribution throughout the body tissues and ability to rectify any abnormalities in a timely manner.  Dietary sources of B-Group vitamins in particular are at risk of rapid oxidisation and may be lacking if relying solely on a mixed feed. It has been well documented that inadequate B-Group vitamins can hinder racing performance. The use of an injectable source is therefore advisable in preparation for a race to maximise the utilisable energy and delivery of oxygen to exercising muscles via a healthy red cell count.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is one of the most important B-Group vitamins for a healthy red cell profile. Horses in heavy work have a higher folic acid requirement due to a lack of access to natural pasture and the continual need to synthesise new red blood cells. Folic acid is needed for the generation of thymidine, which is a building block for DNA synthesis and red blood cell division/regeneration. A deficiency of folic acid can therefore hinder red blood cell production and thus result in megaloblastic (immature red blood cells) anaemia amongst other problems.  It has been found that the affects of training will reduce serum folate levels throughout a campaign, negatively impacting on red blood cell parameters in the latter stages. Furthermore, studies have also found that serum folate levels declined in older horses over a 2 year period, emphasising the need for supplementary folic acid provision, particularly in older horses. To a limited extend folic acid may also be lost through sweat during exercise.

Vitamin B12

The need for additional Vitamin B12 is usually identifiable by an increase in the size of the RBC’s (↑MCV). Vitamin B12 is required to produce a specific form of folate which is involved in DNA synthesis and red blood cell division. A lack of either Vitamin B12 or folic acid may result in macrocytic anaemia (increased size of red blood cells). Vitamin B12 is also involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and thus has a key role in energy availability. The utilisation of proprionic acid is Vitamin B12 dependant. Proprionic is an additional energy source available to horses as a by-product of hindgut fermentation.

  • Red blood cells are vital to the transport of oxygen to exercising muscles and can influence performance and recovery
  • Vitamin B12 is one of the few B-Group vitamins able to be stored in the liver


Butaphospan is an organic form of phosphorus which is a critical means of energy for the exercising horse. Phosphorus is bound to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and is essential to the function of body tissues, in particular that of exercising muscle. A lack of ATP is the primary causes of muscle fatigue across all species. ATP induced a muscle fatigue may be delayed through the provision of constituents such as organic phosphorus.

When should Foliphos be given?

  1. 20mL 1-2 x weekly – Routine use
  2. 20mL x 6 (every second day) in the presence of the following blood parameters;
  • ↓RBC
  • ↓Hb
  • ↓PCV/Haematocrit
  • ↑MCV




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