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Vitamins: They ‘B’ ‘A’ Good Thing

Sometimes we get worried about how to get feed to someone or the right protein or the correct cost but we forget (or never know) why we add some of the ingredients that are listed on the bag.  Let’s find out about the vitamins and their very important function for our animals. 

Vitamins are divided into two groups.  Fat-soluble (meaning that are stored in fat) including A, D, E & K and the water-soluble (which have very little storage in the body) including all the B-complex vitamins.  Although most vitamins are involved in several functions in the body, this blog will focus on their main function.

Vitamins can come from natural and man-made sources.  We will touch on some of the natural sources but almost all of today’s vitamins are synthetically manufactured.  Also, several of the fat-soluble vitamins are reported in “IU” (International Units) instead of “mg” (milligrams).  This is done as an attempt equalize to the amount of an active vitamin added.  Different sources of vitamins will supply more of the active vitamin than others but instead of listing how much volume of a vitamin source you added in term of milligrams or pounds; “IU” will let you know how much of the necessary active vitamin was added to the diet. 

So starting with the fat soluble vitamins, we come to vitamin A. 

  1. Vitamin A (also called retinoic acid as sometimes seen on the tag) can be made from carotene in orange vegtables like squash and carotene and is usually associated with good eyesight.  (Most of you have noticed that Bugs Bunny never had to wear glasses and he is how old now?) 
  2. Vitamin D (D3 is the active form) also called cholecalciferol.  The plant source that is converted by sunlight to this active form is called ergosterol.  Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium out of food sources.
  3. Vitamin E is found in lots of green plants and is called tocopherol.  It works hand in hand with selenium and works as an antioxidant to prevent damage to the cells.  The longer the cells live, the longer and healthier the animal (and you) will be.
  4. Vitamin K is the last fat-soluble vitamin also listed sometimes as menadione and is involved in blood clotting.  (Certain rat poisons that contain a chemical called warfarin will tie up the vitamin K and the rat cannot clot its blood so any little cut will cause it to bleed to death.)

With water-soluble vitamins, the list of B-complex vitamins is long.  For the most part, B-complex vitamins are involved in the various metabolic pathways in the body. 

  • Vitamin B1 is called thiamin and is usually involved with the prevention of polio in ruminants.
  • Vitamin B2 is riboflavin and can prevent curly toe paralysis in birds. 
  • Niacin deficiency will result in poor growth and a condition called black tongue in dogs.
  • Pantothenic acid deficiency will cause “goose stepping” in pigs due to a muscle paralysis in the hind quarters.
  • Folic acid is necessary for proper DNA formation (helps prevent birth defects) in cells.
  • A lack of biotin will affect proper hoof growth. 
  • Choline is needed to help with strong nerve transmittion among the nervous system.   
  • B6 (pyridoxine) can influence growth due to its involvement with metabolism.  
  • B12 is the vitamin that uses cobalt and helps prevent anemia and growth problems.
  • And last but not least, vitamin C is considered a B-vitamin for it is not stored in the body for an appreciable amount.   Humans, monkeys and guinea pigs are missing an enzyme to make vitamin C and it has to be supplied.   Most of the other animals we work with can make their own unless the animal is under a major stress.    Vitamin C helps prevent scurvy which is a breakdown of the blood vessels.

There are many other vitamin-like products, precursors and etc. but these are the main ones that we worry about supplying in the feed.  So as you can see, vitamins are part of our everyday living and our every movement.  So make sure to keep your feeds full of them and these underappreciated beasts of nature will work behind the scenes, helping to keep you from “C”ing a problem and your feed from “B”ing a problem. 

All Hubbard Life feeds are fortified with accurate levels of vitamins to make sure your animals get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy!

Posted on 1/28/2015 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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