Supplements for Pets Part 1: Food Synergy
According to Wikipedia, a dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities. Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. For our ‘S’ post today in the A to Z Challenge, we are going to begin a deeper dive into the world of Supplements.
The supplement industry is thriving. Forbes magazine reported that there were $32 billion in sales for human nutritional supplements in 2012, and this is projected to double to near $60 billion in 2021 according to the Nutritional Business Journal.
Pet supplements are also a growing industry. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimate that the average dog and cat owner in the US spends $64 and $77 per year respectively on vitamins. That translates to several billions of dollars each year spent on pet supplements.
With all of this money spent on supplements, the big question is whether they actually provide any benefit or not. This is a hard question to answer definitively as there are research studies to support both the pros and cons of diet supplementation. With that said, there are some important concepts that can help you decide if and when a supplement might be beneficial for your pet. Today we focus on something called food synergy.
The concept of food synergy states that there is an additive influence of foods on health and that nutrients obtained from whole foods may have different effects on the body and its health than from those nutrients that are synthetically created or isolated.
Food synergy is about the interrelationship between the components of foods which taken together as part of the ‘food matrix’ can maximize the body’s ability to use the nutrients for fuel, repair, and growth. Said another way, the benefit of taking nutrients together as part of a food matrix is greater than the benefit of taking the individual parts (e.g. isolated parts of vitamins and minerals).
Impact on supplementation and food
Vitamins are complex structures that generally contain a vitamin component along with minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and coenzymes, and amino and fatty acids. They are naturally meant to work together synergistically to provide nutritional benefit to the body. There have been numerous studies that report that isolated or synthetic vitamins show no vitamin action in the body and even worse, that some can produce deficiency symptoms of that vitamin.
In one study done way back in 1946 in Vitamin Research News, No.1, 40, (1946), mice were fed diets with deficiencies to produce scurvy. Then, the mice were divided into two groups. One group was treated with synthetic vitamin C and the other was treated with vitamin C obtained from plants. The result was that the mice fed with the natural vitamin C recovered from scurvy while those treated with the artificial vitamin C did not.
There are also those who argue that synthetic vitamins can be as effective as natural vitamins in some cases. They point to the fact that synthetics can be the only effective way to ensure high dosage when needed for illness. This may be true. But just like we at SlimDoggy prefer minimally processed and natural foods, we think the same approach should hold true for supplements. Given a choice, choose whole foods and natural whole vitamins to highly processed and synthetic ones.
When evaluating supplements, look for ones that contain food extracts and whole vitamins and not one with synthetic or isolated vitamin components. For example, look for acerola cherry as a source of vitamin C or choose supplements that list vitamin C, a whole vitamin complex, as the ingredient instead of an isolated component like ascorbic acid.
Also, look for synthetically created vitamins and avoid these. Synthetic vitamins are typically listed with a ‘dl-‘ prefix or contain ‘ide’ or ‘ate’ as a suffix.
All of the above holds true when evaluating your pet’s food. Take a look at the partial ingredient lists from two fish based dog foods.
Petcurean GO! GRAIN FREE Freshwater Trout Wet Dog Food Recipe: Freshwater trout; salmon broth; salmon; herring meal; dried egg product; potatoes; peas; carrots; flaxseed; sweet potatoes; red peppers; sunflower oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols);cottage cheese; spinach; apples; cranberries; blueberries; alfalfa sprouts; pumpkin puree….
Purina One Wholesome Salmon & Brown Rice Entree Adult Ground: Chicken; salmon; turkey; egg product; liver; Choline Chloride; Vitamin E; Vitamin A; Calcium Phosphate; Thiamin Mononitrate; Niacin; Calcium Pantothenate; Riboflavin; Pyridoxine Hydrochloride; Folic Acid; Ferrous Sulfate; Biotin; Copper Sulfate Monohydrate; Vitamin B12; Vitamin D3;Oatmeal…..
Both of these foods meet AAFCO’s requirements for complete and balanced nutrition, which means that they both include the minimum required amounts of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy body. Yet, when looking at the ingredients, one of these foods is much more appealing due to its full list of real foods.
Which one would you rather serve your pet?
We will continue our discussion on supplements in the coming weeks as there is a lot more to review. In the meantime, take a look at your pet’s supplement and food labels. Do you see whole foods and whole vitamins? Or just isolates and derivatives?
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