Why Vitamins Are So Important to Your Pet’s Health & Wellbeing
There’s a lot of hype about health and nutrition these days. Whether we’re talking about our own diets or our pets’, we all know the basics … oranges have vitamin C, the sun gives us vitamin D, and biotin is good for your hair, skin and nails.
We learned those basics in grade school, and they’re contually reinforced on a daily basis by way of TV, print and digital media advertising.
But how much do we really know about vitamins?
Do you know why you need certain vitamins -- or how they work in the body? If you’re not sure about your own nutritional requirements (beyond what’s on the food labels) then how can you be expected to understand the nutritional needs of your pets?
Here we’ll help you understand some of the fundamentals around your pets' nutritional requirements. So let’s start with some basics ...
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds needed, in small amounts, for the maintenance of normal metabolism.
Vitamins are metabolic cofactors, meaning they work in tandem with coenzymes.
What is a cofactor?
A cofactor is a non-protein chemical compound or metallic ion that is required for an enzyme's activity as a catalyst. Cofactors can be classified as "helper molecules” that assist in biochemical transformations, such as metabolism.
What is a coenzyme?
Coenzymes help enzymes to catalyze a reaction. They are organic non-protein molecules that bind with protein molecules (apoenzymes) to form active enzymes (holoenzymes).
Hmm. Those sound the same.
What’s the difference between a cofactor and a coenzyme?
Coenzymes are small, non-protein organic molecules that carry chemical groups between enzymes. Coenzymes form easily removed loose bonds.
Cofactors are non-protein chemical compounds that tightly and loosely bind with enzymes or other protein molecules.
Coenzymes and cofactors work together (as vitamins or minerals) to allow enzymes to catalyze a specific reaction.
Modern nutritional practices include formulating rations with a balance of naturally occurring vitamin sources supplemented with additional synthetic vitamins. They do this to ensure proper and consistent supply of all necessary vitamins.
Why do food manufacturers add in extra vitamins if they’re already there?
Because many vitamins are destroyed during the cooking process (high heat), requiring them to be added back into the food.
It can be difficult to meet all your pet’s vitamin requirements through diet alone. That’s partly because vitamin requirements are continuously changing throughout your pet’s life.
Are you changing his food to meet his changing nutritional needs?
Do you even know what his nutritional needs are at any given stage of life?
No worries, we’re going to help you with that … stay tuned. First, a bit more about vitamins and the role they play in your pet’s overall health.
How vitamins affect your pet's health
Each vitamin plays a unique role in your pet’s metabolism. But did you know that very few vitamins are actually synthesized and stored in the body? That’s why they need to be provided regularly by way of a quality supplement.
Vitamin deficiency symptoms may vary, and many can take months to appear. In fact, some pets go their entire life with any number of vitamin deficiencies. A vitamin deficiency may not be fatal, but we know you want your pets to get all their nutritional requirements to live a long, happy and healthy life.
What are the different types of vitamins?
First, we have synthetic and natural vitamins. There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring vitamins found in food and synthetic vitamins manually added to food.
Vitamins are classified into two categories based on their solubility.
Most vitamins are water-soluble, which means, of course, that they are dissolved in water. The rest are fat-soluble, which means they’re absorbed into the body and stored in the fat.
After your pet has absorbed what he needs, the excess fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver. Your pet’s body secretes bile during digestion so he can absorb and use the vitamins. If his bile production is compromised by liver damage, his ability to absorb those vitamins may be affected.
It is important that fat-soluble vitamins that aren’t absorbed during digestion (excess amounts) are stored safely in the liver, so your pet can ‘use’ them later on when necessary.
In plain English: a healthy liver is crucial for the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
For more detailed information about the different types of vitamins and the role they play in your pet’s health, check out these: