Vitamins

November 9, 2010

The primary vitamins are normally identified as vitamin A, D, E, K, C, and B complex. Of these, A, D, E, and K are the fat soluble vitamins. Vitamins C and B complex are water soluble. The fat soluble vitamins are commonly stored in special fat storage cells called lipocytes, whereas, the water soluble vitamins are not stored within the body except in small amounts. It is for this reason that the fat soluble vitamins pose the biggest threat if oversupplemented. They are stored and build up within the body.

 

The body tissues do not readily store water soluble vitamins and when fed in excess, they are easily eliminated from the body via the urine. Because they do not accumulate within the tissues, there is minimal risk of toxic effects. In fact, we are not aware of a single toxicity case ever having been documented in either dogs or cats. All of the water soluble vitamins, just as the fat soluble ones, are inherently important for life. The lack of adequate amounts of vitamins has been well described in both pets and people.

 

L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is an amino acid, which has been found to be helpful in supporting muscle tissue. It can be used in cases involving gastric issues, such as colitis, IBD, IBS and other problems that cause bowel irritation and inflammation to help heal the digestive tract. It can also help dogs who are suffering from muscle atrophy (as from arthritis, muscular dystrophy and other muscle wasting conditions) to help slow down this process. Lastly, it is helpful for dogs with cancer, in aiding to help the immune system and to help with muscle tone. L-Glutamine helps with a number of the causes of diarrhea. These include:

 

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Animals that have food allergies

  • Animals that are sensitive to foods, developing diarrhea with any alterations to their diet

  • Inflammatory bowel disorders

  • Colitis

  • Animals that suffer from frequent bouts with loose-formed, mucous- coated or watery diarrhea

  • Recurring diarrhea due to parasites, Giardia, and bacteria

  • Balance phase detoxification… often said to be the “poor mans” detoxification program

L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the circulation and in the intracellular amino acid pool. Glutamine is the primary vehicle for nitrogen transfer between tissues. Although it is synthesized in the body from glutamic acid, glutamine is considered to be a conditionally essential amino acid due to a greatly increased demand for glutamine in catabolic states. For example, during:

  • starvation and decreased appetite

  • surgery

  • injury

  • infection

This demand may not be met by metabolic synthesis. Stored principally in skeletal muscle, glutamine is released as needed and is taken up primarily by the GI tract, where it is used as the preferred fuel for enterocytes of the small intestine. Large bowel mucosal cells (colonocytes) also utilize glutamine, although butyrate is their principal fuel.

Glutamine supplementation has been shown to increase small bowel mucosal thickness, villous height, and nitrogen content, and may preserve the integrity and/or speed the healing of the intestinal mucosa. Glutamine also enhances gut immune function, as it decreases bacterial translocation across the gut wall, increases secretory IgA levels and decreases bacterial adherence to enterocytes.

Glutamine was found to be beneficial in calves with diarrhea . Other uses for glutamine might include chronically ill patients that are sustaining a long-lasting catabolic state, following intestinal surgery, as a supplement during endurance training, intestinal permeability disorders, hepatic disease, and immune boosting of lymphocytes and interferon

 

Vitamin A:

Effects: Vision, appetite, maintenance of the skin and coat. Natural beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A based on its needs) has antioxidant activity. In supplements, the natural form is identified by descriptions like “from D. salina”, “from an algal source”, “from a palm source”, or as “natural beta-carotene” on the label. The synthetic form is identified only as “beta-carotene”.
Deficiency: Signs include decreased vision, skin lesions, and abnormal bone growth.
Toxicity: Signs include abnormal bone remodeling, lameness, and death.
Stability: Beta carotene (originates exclusively from plant sources but is readily converted by the dog’s metabolism) is one of the most stable and active vitamins in foods. The compound is sensitive to heat but significant losses only occur after long periods of boiling. Animal food sources contain active vitamin A.
Sources: Liver, fish liver oil, carrots, green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, yellow fruits. The more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content.

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant and immune system booster. It has many functions, including collagen building, adrenal gland functioning, fights bacteria and viruses, prevents high blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, heals wounds and produces antistress hormones. Bioflavonoids increase the absorption rate of vitamin C, strengthen capillary walls, prevent hemorrhages, reduce inflammatory conditions and inhibit cataracts. Often used to support proper skeletal development. This staple nutrient has been found to protect and support tissue, such as skin, and connective tissues in the joints of the body. Acidifies urine and may build resistance to allergies. Ester C is usually used for dogs as it is coated for the stomach.

 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, D-Alpha tocopherol, is an antioxidant and anticarinogen. It helps to protect vitamin C and vitamin A from oxidation. It promotes circulation, healing of wounds, aids in arthritis, helps with normal functioning of the nervous system, improves athletic performance and prevents cell damage and may prevent aging. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and anticarcinogen.  Also aids in cellular respiration, detoxification and repair. It should be used in combination with Fish Oils if supplementing with Fish Oil

 

B Vitamins:

Folic acid and vitamin B12: Folic acid and vitamin B12 (also called cyanocobalamin or cobalamin) are two closely related B complex vitamins and are usually discussed together. They are necessary for the bone marrow to produce red blood cells, and a deficiency of either can lead to advanced anemia. In this type of anemia the red cells are fewer in number but are larger than normal (macrocytic). The quantity of white blood cells may also be reduced. Both vitamins are usually included in the diet and are found in organ meats. Toxicities are of no concern.

 

B12:

Effects: Plays a role in many enzyme reactions of the metabolism. Also important for growth, red blood cell production, maintenance of skin and coat, breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Deficiency: Signs include decreased reproductive performance, dry skin, weakness, and anemia.
Toxicity: None.
Stability: Sensitive to light but heat stable.
Sources: Lean meats, liver, fish, eggs, yeast, cheese, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables.

 

Niacin:

Niacin, another B vitamin, plays a role mainly in helping enzymes to function properly. Niacin is found in adequate levels in meats and meat by-products and is very low in vegetables and grains. ‘Black tongue’ and ‘sore mouth disease’ are the terms used to describe a dog or cat suffering from a niacin deficiency. A pet suffering with black tongue will lose weight, fail to eat, and have red inflamed gums, lips, and inner cheeks. Bloody diarrhea and death may follow. Niacin deficiency is generally encountered when owners formulate their own diets for their pets and do not include meat as part of the ration. Be very careful when trying to convert a pet into a vegetarian. Dogs are omnivores, which means they must eat meats and vegetables. Cats are carnivores which means they must eat meat.

Effects: Assists in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves and is also important for the conversion of food to energy. The amino acid tryptophan is a provitamin of niacin.
Deficiency: Signs include loss of appetite, bad breath, increased salivation, diarrhea and emaciation.
Toxicity: Large doses of niacin can cause liver damage, peptic ulcers, and skin rashes.
Stability: Stable to light, heat, air and alkali.
Sources: Liver, lean meat, poultry, fish, nuts, yeast, legumes, asparagus, seeds, green leafy vegetables.

 

Riboflavin:

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, has been proven to be essential to normal growth, muscle development, and hair coat. Riboflavin is found naturally in organ meats and dairy products. It is lowest in grains, vegetables, and fruits. The unsupplemented vegetarian pet is at extreme risk of developing a riboflavin deficiency. Dogs fed a diet deficient in vitamin B2 will have poor growth, eye abnormalities, weakness in rear limbs, and eventually heart failure. Deficient patients usually have periodic episodes of fainting, and this is termed the ‘collapsing syndrome of dogs.’ Riboflavin toxicity is rare if not nonexistent; we know of no documented cases.

 

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and anticarcinogen. It helps to protect vitamin C and vitamin A from oxidation. It promotes circulation, healing of wounds, aids in arthritis, helps with normal functioning of the nervous system, improves athletic performance and prevents cell damage.  Also aids in cellular respiration, detoxification and repair.

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