An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules that create free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start a chain reaction in cells, causing damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates and inhibiting other oxidation reactions.
Antioxidants are widely used in nutritional supplements for pets and humans. They have been investigated for the prevention of diseases such as cancer and heart disease. They are naturally occurring in many raw foods.
Sources: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, strawberries, kale, spinach, broccoli, ginger, carrots, papaya, collard greens, squash, red & white meat, and organ meats.
Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. Most mammals, including dogs, have the ability to convert beta carotene to vitamin but cats do not. That is why vegetables are an important part of a dog`s diet. Cats get naturally occurring vitamin A from animal sources. See the `Vitamin A` section for more information.
Sources: Sweet potato, carrot, kale, turnip, squash, lettuce.
There are over 4000 recognized flavonoids. They are a group of plant pigments found in fruits and vegetables that help give them their color. These nutrients provide several unique benefits. They modify the body`s immune response to compounds like allergins, carcinogens, and viruses. They are also powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals (see `Antioxidants` for more info) and prevent cholesterol oxidation. Bioflavonoids have been indicated as helpful in the following medical conditions: Venous insufficiency, capillary fragility, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, lupus, asthma, and allergies.
Sources: Strawberries, broccoli, spinach, garlic, citrus fruits, parsley, green tea.
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin and a coenzyme in the synthesis of fatty acids, amino acids and is essential in regulating blood glucose levels and cell growth in mammals. Sources: Chicken, liver, raspberries, swiss chard, eggs.
Boron is a naturally occurring mineral that is used by mammals to build strong bones and muscles, regulate testosterone, and aids in brain function and muscle coordination. Sources: Apples, broccoli, pears, bananas, carrot, celery, peaches, and some nuts.
It is important to distinguish species-appropriate sources of carbohydrates for dogs and cats (discussed below). Carbohydrates occur in foods as polysaccharides and monosaccharides. Polysaccharides are used as energy that can be stored in the body. Monosaccharides include several biomolecules that aid in the proper function of the immune system and prevent blood clotting. They also act as coenzymes and are essential building blocks of DNA.
Natural sources for dogs: Sweet potatoes, yams, broccoli, squash, carrot, fruits, organ meats.
Natural sources for cats: Organ meats.*
*Note: cats have no nutrition requirement for carbohydrate
Calcium is a necessary mineral for life. It helps build healthy bones & teeth, aids in exocytosis for muscle contraction and neurotransmitter release, and in the electrical conduction system of the heart. Calcium deficiency can cause an array of serious health problems. The main source of calcium in a raw diet is raw bones. Puppies and kittens will need bones every day to ensure they receive enough calcium during the crucial growing stages. Pregnant and lactating mothers will also need lots of calcium to carry their young to term and produce adequate amounts of milk for their young.
Sources: Bones, muscle meat, bok choi, mustard greens, kale, broccoli.
Choline is an essential, water-soluble nutrient. It is usually grouped with the B vitamins and has been recognized as an important nutrient for insulin function, proper liver & muscle function, and the structure of the cell membrane. It is also needed by pregnant animals for the healthy development of the nervous system of the fetus.
Sources: Beef, turkey, chicken, rabbit, lamb, collard greens, swiss chard, eggs.
Chromium is an essential mineral that is important in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. It also stimulates cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis which are important for brain and body processes. Finally chromium aids in the metabolism of insulin.
Sources: Beef, liver, eggs, chicken, apples, bananas, spinach.
Cobalt is another essential mineral and is a part of vitamin B12 and is essential for red blood cells and the formation of the myelin nerve sheath. It increases the assimilation of iron and increases the effectiveness of glucose transportation from the blood to cells.
Sources: Red meat, liver, apricots, kelp, leafy greens.
Co-Enzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like, oil-soluble substance that is present in eukaryotic cells (nucleus containing cells) and is an important component of aerobic cellular respiration which generates the most commonly used energy in the body: adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The liver, heart, and kidneys have the highest energy requirements in the body and therefore have the highest concentration of co-enzyme Q10 and the highest requirements for it. It is essential for healthy heart function and blood vessels. It is also an antioxidant.
Sources: Organ meats, muscle meats, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, carrots.
Copper is a trace mineral essential for all living things on earth. It is necessary for the growth, maintenance, and development of bones, connective tissues, the brain, heart, and other organs. It is involved in the formation of red blood cells and deficiency will cause anemia. Copper also helps cells utilize iron, metabolize cholesterol and glucose. It is a major component in stimulating the immune system to promote healing, fight infection and repair injured tissue, and neutralizes the negative effects of free radicals on cells. Lastly, copper is involved in the production and release of proteins and enzymes that regulate nerve transmission, blood clotting, and oxygen transport within the body.
Sources: Liver, red meat, chard, spinach, mustard greens, kale, squash, sweet potato, raspberries.
Essential Fatty Acids
EFA`s are long-chain polyunsaturated acids derived from linolenic (omega 3), linoleic (omega 6), and oleic (omega 9) acids. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are not synthesized within the body of mammals but omega 9 can be synthesized in small amounts. They have an effect on inflammation within the body and many other cellular functions. It is widely accepted that EFA`s can be used in `therapeutic` doses to reduce inflammatory disease and help with other dysfunction in the body. They are well-recognized as being useful neutraceuticals for inflammatory bowel disease, skin disease, insulin resistance, obesity, asthma, heart conditions, diabetes, arthritis, and behavioral concerns.
Sources: Oils (flaxseed, hempseed, mackerel, salmon, sardine) and red, white & fish meats.
Enzymes are biological molecules responsible for thousands of chemical processes in nature that sustain and support life. Most enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts for all types of metabolic reactions in the mammalian body. They play a major role in the digestion and absorption of food. Complex starches and proteins are broken down into smaller molecules that can be digested by the intestines. Several enzymes can form metabolic pathways, each enzyme working in a specific order to get different jobs done. Enzymes help maintain the homeostasis of the body and if there is a mutation, change, or termination in production, the disease can occur. It is important to provide your pet with live enzymes every day for a body that functions at its best. Cooked and commercial foods contain little to no live enzymes. A raw diet is rich in live enzymes that allow that body to easily maintain a healthy rhythm.
Sources: All raw foods contain enzymes. A species-specific approach to feeding will naturally provide animals with the correct enzymes for the healthy function of that animal.
Dietary fiber comes in two forms: soluble; insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and ferments in the digestive system to create physiological by-products. This type of fiber generally slows the passage of food through the gut. Insoluble fiber doesn`t dissolve in water and acts as a bulking mechanism that helps ease defecation. Dietary fibers are important for changing the nature of the contents of the digestive system and changing the way that nutrients are absorbed into the body. Healthy bacteria in the gut initiate the fermentation process, allowing for many chemical processes to occur.
Sources: Fruit, dark leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, carrots, meat.
Fluorine is a chemical element. It is not considered an essential nutrient but it is widely used to prevent cavity formation in teeth and is thought to help maintain bone health. Drinking water and foods contain trace amounts of fluorine.
Sources: water, meat, mother`s milk, fish
Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid is essential to many bodily functions. Mammals need folic acid to synthesize and repair DNA and are essential in the rapid division and development of cells that occurs during pregnancy and when pups or kittens are growing. Folates are also needed to produce healthy red blood cells.
Sources: Heart, liver, green leafy vegetables, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, broccoli
Iodine is an essential chemical element that is a key component of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) that are major factors in maintaining healthy overall endocrine function. It is also thought to improve immune function but must be studied further to verify this as fact.
Sources: Kelp, eggs, apples, bananas, strawberries
Inositol is a chemical compound and though it is not considered essential, it has been found to help with several conditions in humans including liver disease, nervous system disorders, eczema, eye disease, brain disorders, and high cholesterol. Studies have also confirmed that it prevents the growth of several types of cancer. Inositol is a highly nutritious compound that works within the body as a therapeutic agent. Future studies will surely further reveal the importance of this nutrient.
Sources: Rutabagas, cantaloupe, blackberries, pumpkin, carrots, peaches, pears, watermelon, cherries, apricots, acorn squash, zucchini, collards. Meat has small traces of inositol.
Iron is a mineral that is essential for synthesizing healthy red blood cells and transporting oxygen to every cell in the bodies of mammals. It also plays a role in producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body`s main energy source. It is a vital nutrient for treating anemia. It is easy for your pet to obtain enough iron on a properly balanced raw diet since red meats and organ meats are high in this element.
Sources: Organ meat, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, venison, kale, spinach, agar, eggs
Magnesium is an element that is essential to all cells of all living organisms on earth. Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium ions. All enzymes that synthesize or utilize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and those that synthesize DNA and RNA need magnesium. Deficiencies have been linked to diabetes, asthma, and osteoporosis.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, bananas. Meat contains trace amounts of magnesium.
Like magnesium, manganese is an essential element of all life and is a cofactor in hundreds of metabolic processes in mammals. It helps the body forms connective tissues, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones. It plays a role in carbohydrate & fat metabolism, regulation of blood sugar, absorption of calcium, and healthy brain & nerve function. It has been used in the treatment of osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, and epilepsy.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
Molybdenum is an essential nutrient that is not well understood. It plays roles in several biological processes in mammals including waste processing via the kidneys, development of the nervous system, and energy production in cells. Studies are being done to find out more about this little-known element. There is evidence that suggests that it is involved in the uptake of copper in the body and that it also might be useful for preventing certain cancers and helping with the negative side effects of cancer-fighting drugs.
Sources: Lamb, beef, liver, dark leafy greens
Pantothenic acid is an essential nutrient for dogs and cats. It is a water-soluble vitamin required for the synthesis of coenzyme-A (needed for several biological processes including the synthesis of fatty acids), proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Its name is derived from the Greek word pantothen meaning `from everywhere` because it is found in trace amounts in almost every food. Some foods have higher amounts and will be mentioned below.
Sources: Muscle meat, eggs, broccoli.
Phosphorus is a mineral found in every cell in the body. The main function is to form bones and teeth but it also is involved in the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, formation of ATP, synthesis of proteins, and growth and maintenance of cells. Additionally, it works with B vitamins and is involved in kidney function, regulating heart rate, nerve impulses, and contraction of muscles.
Sources: Bones, red meat, organ meats, rabbit, turkey, chicken, eggs, kelp
Phytochemicals are non-essential nutrients in plant foods. They have protective or disease preventive properties. These nutrients can perform several actions within the mammalian body:
- Can bind to cells to prevent pathogens from doing the same.
- Can help to regulate hormones.
- Can act as antibacterial agents.
- Can have antioxidant properties.
- Can interfere with the formation of cancer cells.
- Can stimulate enzyme production.
Sources: Apples, berries, broccoli, carrot, sweet potato, cantaloupe, spinach, celery, lettuce, liver, fish oil, kale, beets, yam, squash apricot.
Selenium is an essential micro-nutrient for dogs and cats. It is a component of several important antioxidant enzymes and plays a role in the function of the thyroid gland and the immune system. There is evidence that it could be useful in the prevention of certain cancers.
Sources: Red and poultry meat.
Silica is an essential nutrient that acts to improve bone density and the health of skin, hair, nail, teeth, and gums. It also helps the body maintain and repair collagen and connective tissue and plays a role in healing bones and wounds.
Sources: Bones, celery, beets, carrots, bananas.
Sodium regulates blood volume, blood pressure, osmotic equilibrium, and pH. A raw diet has a well-balanced level of sodium, unlike human diets that are often too high.
Sources: Meat, bones, vegetables, fruit.
Sulphur is essential to all living cells. It is present in connective tissue, nerve cells, skin, hair, and nails. Cysteine and methionine are amino acids that are present in plants and animals. These amino acids exist in all enzymes, proteins, and polypeptides. Sulphur is present in countless metabolic processes in the body including glucose metabolism.
Sources: Red meat, poultry, bones, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, bok choi, eggs, garlic.
Vanadium is needed in small amounts for the growth of puppies and kittens and in reproduction and pregnancy. It has been suggested that it can aid in increasing insulin sensitivity in diabetics but more research is required. It may also provide cancer-fighting properties, reduce cholesterol formation, prevent heart disease, and prevent tooth decay.
Sources: Bones, bone meal, chicken, eggs, parsley.
An essential trace mineral, zinc is involved in many metabolic processes, triggering enzymes, building proteins, and creating DNA. It is necessary for healthy bones, muscles, kidney function, liver function, and maintenance of the neurological and reproductive systems. It also serves as a structural component in proteins. It is needed for growth and pregnancy. Interestingly, it is required for proper taste and smell.
Sources: Red meat, liver, turkey.
A: Vitamin A is important in the maintenance of the immune system, growth and development, good vision, bone metabolism, gene transcription, skin and cellular health, and several other metabolic functions. It is a fat-soluble vitamin so toxicity can occur in the event of a long-standing unbalanced diet. Supplementation is not recommended unless otherwise prescribed by a veterinarian (in cases of deficiency). A well-balanced raw diet will provide correct and safe amounts of this vitamin. Cod liver oil is high in vitamin A and should not be used regularly as a supplement. Notably, cats cannot convert retinol to vitamin A so they must have raw liver in the diet to provide pure forms of vitamin A.
Sources: Liver, heart, dandelion greens, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, kale, spinach, pumpkin, collard greens, cantaloupe, papaya, apricots, eggs, mangos.
B1 (Thiamine): Vitamin B1 is important in many cellular processes including the catabolism of sugars and amino acids as well as the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters. It is necessary for the conversion of fats and carbohydrates. It is also needed for the manufacture of hydrochloric acid, needed for digestion.
Sources: Heart, liver, kale, cauliflower, eggs.
B2 (Riboflavin): Vitamin B2 is involved in metabolism in energy, fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. It also works as an antioxidant in the body and is needed for red blood cell production and body growth. Riboflavin helps the body change vitamin B6 and folate into usable forms.
Sources: Muscle meat, heart, liver, bananas, chard, and other leafy greens.
B3 (Niacin): Vitamin B3 is involved in almost every oxidation-reduction process in cells, catabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, and DNA repair. It is also an important factor in fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. Most mammals including the dog can convert the amino acid tryptophan into niacin but the cat cannot. The cat must obtain niacin from sources that it naturally occurs in. Muscle meat is high in this nutrient.
Sources: Muscle meat, liver, cantaloupe, mango, peaches, lettuce, squash, broccoli.
B5: See Pantothenic acid
B6: Vitamin B6 is important for the metabolism of amino acids and the enzymatic reactions that govern the release of glucose from glycogen. It also plays a major role in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and amino acids. B6 is involved in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters, the formation of hemoglobin, and immune function.
Sources: Poultry, red meat, liver, banana, squash, spinach.
B12: Vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood cells and neurological function and must be obtained from food. It is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the mammalian body including DNA regulation and synthesis, fatty acid synthesis, and energy production. B12 is found in high protein foods and is plentiful in a well-balanced raw diet.
Sources: Red meat, poultry, heart, liver, eggs.
B13 (Orotic Acid): B13 is important for the production of genetic material. It is produced by intestinal flora in mammals. It is responsible for the metabolization of vitamin B12 and B9 and aids in the absorption of magnesium and calcium. It has been recognized for aiding liver disease and heart disease.
Sources: Red meat, carrots, beets.
C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and is required for countless metabolic reactions in all mammals. It plays a major role in the health of the immune system and is an antioxidant and natural antihistamine. It helps form proteins responsible for the healthy growth of skin, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels and helps wounds heal and scars form. Vitamin C also works to repair cartilage, teeth, and bones.
Sources: Liver, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, berries, broccoli, leafy greens, winter squash, pear, apple, peach, carrot, banana.
D: Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of calcium and phosphate. The mammalian body can produce vitamin D in the presence of sunshine but it can also be obtained from food. It is necessary for healthy bones, cardiovascular function, nervous and immune systems.
Sources: Heart, liver, eggs.
E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant, enzymatic activity regulator, protects lipids, prevents the oxidation of fatty acids, and plays a role in neurological function. It is widely used as a natural preservative in foods.
Sources: Heart, liver, spinach, mango, broccoli, papaya, mustard greens, collard greens, eggs.
K (Phylloquinone): Vitamin K plays a role in the biosynthesis of proteins that act to coagulate blood and is needed for metabolic processes within the cells of bones and other tissues.
Sources: Heart, liver, leafy greens, broccoli.