Feed Your Dog This Not That: Vitamins & Minerals
Commercially available dog foods will typically contain long lists of ingredients. In fact, the average dog food contains over 40 different ingredients in a single recipe. One of the reasons that dog foods contain so many ingredients is due to the fact that they are generally formulated to be “complete and balanced”. Complete and balanced simply means that the food contains all of the essential nutrition needed by a dog’s body, although it is not an indication of quality nor is it an indication of whether the food is really species appropriate or not.
Back to the long ingredient lists, a typical dog food recipe will contain many vitamin and mineral additives in order to meet the complete and balanced requirement. This tends to bloat the number of ingredients in a recipe. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the type of specific vitamins (or foods) that are used to provide a complete and balanced diet is important.
Whole Vitamins Versus Isolated or Synthetic Vitamins
Vitamins are composite substances containing several components: the vitamin component plus minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, coenzymes, amino acids, and fatty acids. Consumed whole, they are readily available for absorption in the body and can provide the nutrition needed for the various life functions.
Isolated or synthetic vitamins are a lot different, and may not necessarily be absorbed and used by the body in the same way as their natural counterparts. Isolated vitamins are typically created through a chemical treatment of a natural source. Chemicals such as ether, which is made from alcohol and sulphuric acid, or benzene, which is a derivative of petroleum, are commonly used in the isolation process. Obviously, these are not chemicals that you would want to feed a dog.
A series of further steps are normally taken to complete the isolation process. The chemically treated substance is then further treated with a precipitant such as iron chloride, or lead salts, and then filtered, distilled by heat. During this process, most of the natural enzymes in the vitamin have been destroyed, thus making the isolate less nutritionally potent (if not useless, or even harmful to the body).
Furthermore, isolated vitamins tend to have a different ‘rotation’ than do their whole form counterparts. Rotation is a topic that deserves its own post (or two), but the idea is that the vitamin complex is naturally formed to rotate in a certain direction, right or left. Often, isolated or synthetic versions have the opposite rotation. When it comes to the body’s ability to use the vitamin, a proper rotational configuration can bind to the appropriate receptor sites for absorption. The opposite rotation cannot. In fact, the opposite rotation can be associated with the negative side effects of a vitamin overdose.
Whole Foods and Whole Vitamins
The best source of vitamins and minerals are whole foods. A diet that is full of assorted meats, fruits, and vegetables, should, in theory, provide most of the dog’s nutritional requirements. In any case, look for foods that contain lots of whole foods and whole vitamin complexes (e.g. Vitamin C) instead of isolates and synthetics (see below for examples).
|Feed This||Not That|
|Fruits and vegetables||Synthetic, isolated vitamins (often denoted by prefix dl-)|
|Chelated, chelates (if added as a vitamin pack)||Vitamin K3 or Menadione|
|Whole Vitamin C, Ester C||Ascorbic acid|
|Natural Vitamin E (Tocopherols)||Dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate|
|Vitamin A||Retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate|