Whole Food Supplements

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Dr Donna Spector

What are pet supplements?

Pet supplements are food or food nutrients which are taken orally in order to provide a health benefit, either for prevention or treatment of disease.

My pet’s food is supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Is there benefit from additional supplementation?

During the normal processing of pet foods, many natural vital nutrients found in whole foods are damaged or destroyed. For this reason, most pet foods are supplemented or fortified with vitamins and minerals to replace the nutrients stripped during processing. This supplementation is necessary in order to create complete and balanced pet foods.

Additional pet supplements, together with a complete and balanced natural pet food, may improve longevity and improve the quality of life in an aging animal. Aging pets commonly experience degenerative organ changes in the musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, nervous system and the specialized organs of sense such as hearing and sight. It may be possible to slow these degenerative changes and decrease the incidence of disease development by the appropriate use of supplements.

What are whole food supplements?

Whole foods are foods which are unprocessed and unrefined (or only minimally so) before being consumed. These include foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Whole food supplements are made by concentrating these foods for use in supplements.

Whole food supplements supply a pet’s body with naturally occurring nutrients they are not getting from their complete and balanced processed diets. Each individual whole food supplement is a unique combination of active substances. When taken together they have whole body effects that are far greater than would be expected from the additive effects of their individual components. When processed correctly, whole food supplements supply superior nutrition over synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements.

What are the benefits of giving whole food supplements to a dog or cat?

Key benefits of whole food supplements:

  • Whole foods provide a variety of complex and inter-related nutrients and micronutrients that a pet’s body needs—such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, coenzymes, and phytochemicals. Whole foods have lower amounts of nutrients but still exert powerful effects because of the complex relationship between nutrients.
  • The amounts of nutrients found in whole foods are balanced so they do not interfere with each other’s digestion, absorption or metabolism.
  • Whole fruits and vegetables provide naturally occurring protective substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants. These substances may be protective against chronic diseases and help the body to heal itself from normal daily damage.
  • Whole foods provide a valuable source of dietary fiber which is commonly lacking in adequate amounts in many pet foods.

Synthetic vitamins or vitamins isolated from natural foods do not have the accompanying cofactors and enzymes to exert synergistic effects like complex whole foods do. Without this, synthetic vitamins must be delivered in much higher dosages to achieve a similar result and research has proven they still fall short of the effects from whole food supplementation.

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