Basically, there are two types of vitamins: the whole food type, which are found in the fresh foods we eat, and the synthetic type, which are manufactured in a laboratory and found in the processed foods we eat. When you purchase synthetic vitamins, you are relying on luck as to whether or not they are the right ones, in the correct combination, that may or not be useful or even harmful to your pet’s body. When you provide fresh food or whole food source vitamins, you are relying on nature and the body’s innate knowledge to select from the presented array, the needed vitamins and combination to be properly assimilated and effectively utilized by the body.
In basic biology we learned that vitamins need their cofactors and appropriate food combinations to be utilized by the body. Yet, even natural health sources tout d-alpha tocopherol as “natural” vitamin E. In reality, it is not utilized without selenium. Your best whole food source of vitamin E is wheat germ oil. Doctors often say, take your vitamin C to prevent the common cold. Unfortunately, ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It is only one chemical constituent within this complex nutrient. A great whole food source is rose hips.
Have you ever wondered why one study says a particular vitamin is good for you and another study says it is not? Sometimes it is because a study is based upon utilization of a food that contains large amounts of the particular vitamin vs. another study where only a chemical constituent of the vitamin is used. Ever hear the old adage, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? Indeed, nature has even put into its plants constituents, which protect against or balance the negative effects of another constituent, within the same plant! This protection is not present if one consumes a “partial’ vitamin or synthetic version. There are many nutrients in a carrot that work synergistically. There are many components that affect the functionality of a carrot’s vitamin A, not just beta-carotene.
Why is the ingestion of synthetics so bad? And why does an individual often see results when consuming synthetic vitamins? Cells have vitamin receptor sites. A body with a vitamin deficiency will have cells with empty receptor sites. Initially, the synthetic vitamins will adhere to the receptor sites and stimulate a beneficial response. The excessive and repeated presence of the synthetic vitamin will cause the tired receptor sites to “down regulate,” making them no longer responsive to the synthetic or the presence of the natural vitamin when it arrives. So, after some time, an individual’s symptoms of vitamin deficiency recur.
This is why health practitioners often say excessive amounts of a vitamin can become toxic. Cells do not do a good job of recognizing and releasing synthetic vitamins. Signs of deficiency and those of excess are often quite similar. This is why synthetic vitamin supplementation can be very confusing and dangerous.
Read the ingredient label on your pet’s bag of dry kibble (the synthetic vitamins are bolded): brewers rice, corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal, animal fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried egg product, vegetable oil, chicken liver digest, fish meal, DL-methionine, L-lysine, taurine, L-tryptophan, preserved with mixed tocopherols, citric acid and rosemary extract, beta carotene, minerals (potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, salt, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid (a source of vitamin C), niacin, thiamine, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement).
Now read the ingredients on a bag of fresh, raw food: rabbit, pork fat, ground rabbit bone, pork liver, pork heart, apples, carrots, butternut squash, ground flax seeds, montmorillonite clay, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, dried kelp, apple cider vinegar, parsley, honey, salmon oil, olive oil, blueberries, alfalfa sprouts, persimmons, inulin, rosemary, sage, clove.
Pet parents who cannot feed fresh food, should never supplement synthetic vitamins with foods which already contain synthetic vitamins. It is imperative to only supplement with whole food vitamins. Don’t be misled to believe that these processed foods contain adequate amounts of vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are poorly absorbed.
It is safe and a good idea to add blended fresh veggies to your pet’s food. Organic is always best. (Avoid grapes, raisins and onions.) Your pet may benefit from specific combinations of whole food supplementation depending on if he has a particular imbalance. For example, eating liver, milk thistle and beets are excellent if your pet has liver disease.
Standard Process is an international company based in Palmyra, Wisconsin, that makes human and pet whole food supplements. They have made supplementation easy for humans. Chiropractors and acupuncturists have been recommending these products for people for years. Veterinarians have this same option available to them for pets. The Standard Process Canine Renal Support contains ingredients such as bovine kidney, kidney bean extract, pea vine juice, beet root, alfalfa juice and more.
Mmm … good, easy and real!
Jodie Gruenstern,DVM,CVA is a UW-Madison graduate and has been practicing veterinary medicine in Muskego, Wisconsin since 1987. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist by the Chi Institute. Dr. Jodie is the owner of the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, an integrated small animal practice. She has been an advocate for natural pet care through writing, speaking, radio, television and the manufacturing of unique products. Dr. Jodie is founder of the non-profit iPAW: Integrating People for Animal Wellness.