For A Naturally Healthy Pet
The Truth about Vitamins
Vitamins were originally elements found in natural foods. Vitamin stands for vital-amines. These essential parts of foods are the things that keep your birds alive along with minerals and the co-factors that are necessary for good health.
However, when science came along and took these various foods they said, "Well, this one has a nutrient in it and that one has one too". Then they basically extracted each particular element from each food and tried to reproduce it chemically. They "purified" or "synthesized" chemical elements of that food. Why? Well, for one reason itís cheaper to synthesize than to actually go out and harvest it somewhere. And so a food that is synthesized turns out to be an incomplete source of nutrition. Conversely, when nature puts the food together it contains all the elements Ė vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. it needs to complete its normal process.
When you go to the bird store or pet store what youíll find there is not real food; itís imitation food. Many birds are not being fed well. A synthetic diet or pelleted feed does not contain all the parts needed to make it complete. When you look at the label it reads like a whoís who in vitamins, minerals and so forth, but in actual fact it is really deficit in a lot of things.
Incomplete vitamins create vitamin deficiencies. Many folks think theyíre doing the correct thing when feeding an incomplete pelleted diet to their birds, but in reality these fabricated diets can worsen a condition or the state of health.
Just by taking a bird off pellets and providing them with whole foods it has been discovered that an overwhelming change in health for the better takes place Ė for example, freedom from disease, calmness, and responsiveness to its human companion. Of course, a whole foods diet must be varied, balanced and from a wide selection of foods. The more diverse your birdís diet is the better.
Pellets are not nutrition; they are not complete foods. They are isolated synthetic vitamins, minerals, amino acids and so forth along with a few grains, seeds, etc. When you take an incomplete vitamin, that vitamin must take the necessary co-factors out of the body in order to complete its process. So, if your bird is not consuming the proper foods in order to replenish some of that, you create imbalances and deficiencies. Deficiencies create disease and infection.
A bird may not show signs or symptoms that it has been fed an incomplete diet for a number of years (depending on the species), just like with people who donít eat properly. But sooner or later the signs and symptoms will appear or develop when the co-factors are depleted. These co-factors are needed to complete the process or activity of these vitamins. As these co-factors become diminished in the body the health of the body will steadily go down hill.
So, when a synthetic feed is given to a bird, where do you suppose it gets its B4? Thatís right! The bird gets it from its body. And if its diet is incomplete in a particular area of nutrition, it may very well already be out of it. This will eventually result in some chemical process in its body to not work properly. So the feed you are providing could actually be contributing to the health problem your bird is experiencing.
No one can duplicate nature. If science were to try to make a pharmaceutical orange... guess what? It would be deficient in everything that science hasnít admitted is here yet and everything that is yet to be discovered. So consequently, they canít make a pharmaceutical orange. Also, they donít recognize certain vitamins and they say, "Oh, that vitamin doesnít exist". You know how every once in awhile they come up with a new vitamin? Well, where do you suppose that vitamin was hiding out? Where was it up to that point? Exactly, it was in whole food, but they just hadnít got around to it yet.
Vitamin C is an interesting vitamin. It is thought to be a nonessential nutrient for birds because they synthesize their own vitamin C. What if the enzyme that produces vitamin C is not functioning optimally? Or, what if the amount of stress they experience depletes vitamin C from their body to the extent that their body cannot keep up with its need for this vitamin? I believe that in captivity it is vital that your bird receives vitamin C from whole foods just as it would in the wild from the fresh foods available in their native habitat.
Now, Iíd like to tell you about vitamin Cís composition. Vitamin C is called ascorbic acid, but the ascorbic acid is the antioxidant protector of the vitamin C complex, in the same way that an eggshell is the protector of the contents of the egg. Whatís actually in the complex is the vitamin P (bioflavonoids), the J factor, the K factor, tyrosinase (organic copper), ascorbic acid and many other components not yet recognized. Vitamin P strengthens the vascular system. Vitamin K promotes prothrombin, which aids in coagulation. Birds who tend to bleed easily do not have enough vitamin K in their bodies. If a bird has enough vitamin K then it is used in the formation of protein, which is then transported to the injured tissue, such as a broken blood feather. Vitamin K also assists in the strength and health of bone, organs and glands. Vitamin J increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
If your bird is ill with an infection, you want oxygen to get to its tissues where it oxidizes the toxins and carries them away with carbon dioxide. Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme that is important to the production of adrenal gland hormones, fertility, excretion of purine (the catabolic source of uric acid), is essential to the development of red blood cells and so forth. Ascorbic acid, the most commonly referred to part of the vitamin C complex, possesses the antioxidant protective factor. It is the isolated portion of vitamin C that is used as a preservative in some foods and sold as a supplement. It is obvious that using the whole vitamin complex would be more beneficial than using only the isolated ascorbic acid.
Using food sources of the vitamin complex allows your birdís body to choose what it needs to absorb. It can use as little or as much as it needs and excrete any excess readily. There is no method available to assess optimal vitamin requirements for birds, since each of your birds dietary needs are unique.
Foods that are a rich source of the vitamin C complex are berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, acerola, blackberries, raspberries) citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemon), pineapple, rose hips, guava, papaya, parsley, cabbage, collards, peppers, broccoli, black currant, and cantaloupe.
Another way to assure that your bird receives enough of the nutrients that are needed for optimum health is to offer it a whole food supplement. Basically, this is a concentrated source of nutrients that can be sprinkled over food in a powder or liquid form.
Vitamin E also has this antioxidant protective coat on the outside that is made up of whatís called tocopherol. If youíve ever looked at a vitamin bottle or a bag of bird kibble, tocopherol may be familiar to you. There are several kinds of tocopherol Ė alpha, beta, gamma, and delta, but they are antioxidant protectors of whatís in the center of the vitamin. The center of each vitamin is a mineral and in the case of vitamin E itís selenium. There is also some essential fatty acid factors that help move calcium.
A bird owner whose bird develops tetany and other symptoms of calcium deficiency may think their bird needs calcium. Many times a supplement will be used. If the owner has the knowledge that vitamin E is helpful for the transport of calcium in the body a dose of vitamin E as well as calcium will probably be given. If the owner gives the bird vitamin E in the fractionated form of tocopherol instead of getting the whole food complex of vitamin E then it is actually preventing the movement of calcium from the bloodstream to the tissues for recovery to take place.
In most cases, illness and symptoms of disease are caused by a nutritional deficiency, either from the use of inappropriate vitamins or from the diet itself being deficient. More uncommon, but does occur from time to time, is maldigestion and malabsorption.
Commonly asked questions:
Q. How do you go about analyzing a birdís health?
A. I look at the whole bird. For example:
Q. What do you mean when you say you look at the whole bird?
A. I look at certain things, such as the symptoms a bird exhibits, behavior, appetite, activity level, etc. Is your bird experiencing a chronic infection? What type is it? Perhaps your bird isnít digesting its food well due to the composition of the diet. I also look at lab test results Ė cultures, CBC, blood chemistry panels that indicate liver, kidney function and so forth. Very positive results come from evaluating and analyzing the case this way. Nutritional and natural methods play an important role in the recovery of a sick bird.
Q. What do you think about the chemicals, dyes and sugar in some of the commercial feeds?
A. Sugar, chemicals, and dyes harm the body and require that our birds take in additional nutrition to compensate for the damage they cause. We canít expect our birds to possess optimum health when they are eating these types of junk food diets. Sugar requires certain nutrients to break it down. If these nutrients do not come from whole foods, where do you suppose they come from? Right! These nutrients are taken from the birdís body.
Q. If bird owners are feeding their birds a food that contains only parts or pieces of vitamin complexes does this mean we are causing harm if we are supplying our birds with a synthetic vitamin supplement?
A. Well, remember again your birds are consuming isolated synthesized nutrients and not complex whole nutrients when you feed a synthetic supplement or feed. Anytime you take large doses of a synthetic nutrient it creates imbalances. This is because they are chemicals, not the real thing.
Example: Vitamin E from a whole food source is used to recalcify bone. However, if you use the synthetic form of vitamin E, dl tocopherol, this will decalcify bones. Alpha tocopherol is the natural form and most biologically effective.
Q. Can I give my bird a vitamin B supplement for stress?
A. Vitamin B is actually vitamin B and G. The vitamin G portion is the component of the vitamin that has vasodilative effects. It relaxes the mind and body. The B portion of the vitamin constricts and causes tension.
Often those products that contain vitamin B have a long list of milligrams behind each nutrient in the B complex. This indicates that the product was made in a lab. Nature does not create vitamins in this way. Vitamin G is the portion of the vitamin that is really needed when your bird is experiencing stress, not the B.
The synthetic B vitamins do not perform the same function as does the B-complex from a natural source. This is because they are not put together the way your bird would find these vitamins in its natural environment; therefore, the body does not recognize it and basically doesnít know what to do with it! It does try to get rid of it by enzymatically breaking down and ridding it from the body as quickly as it can. However, this process of elimination is tiring to the body and soon the body becomes overwhelmed.
Q. What is the source of most of the food products we would buy in the pet stores?
A. Most of the feed products that are found in the pet stores are actually synthesized. Many of them started out as natural items, while some of them did not. Example: Alpha tocopherol is often made from soybean oil. The synthetic form, dl tocopherol comes from a handful of chemical companies that manufacture vitamins. These synthetic vitamins may end up in pet foods and supplements.
Q. So, there is really very little difference between the many vitamin supplements and commercial feeds available?
A. This is true, very little. The labeling and marketing is somewhat different, but the contents in most cases is very much the same with some variation in the ingredients and potency.
With natural whole foods that contain all the elements to work effectively in the body, your bird doesnít need a high potency. Nutrients in foods are combined by nature in a way that man cannot duplicate.
Enzymes in the body break down the excess of synthetic vitamins the body cannot use, so this excess is not only useless, but also potentially harmful to the body as the bodyís enzyme resources becomes overworked as well as the bodyís elimination organs Ė kidneys, liver, etc.
Q. What should I know about minerals?
A. Plants use inorganic minerals to produce organic minerals. We find organic minerals in the foods we serve our birds, such as fruits and vegetables. Inorganic minerals come from rocks.
Q. What should I know about calcium?
A. The most popular form of calcium is calcium carbonate from bone, eggshell, and limestone. It contains a high level of calcium and is cheap. However, this form of calcium is not the most effective because its absorption rate is low. Calcium that is used in the body in the blood is calcium bicarbonate. There are nearly a dozen processes that occur to turn calcium carbonate into calcium bicarbonate. Calcium lactate from lactic acid requires two processes to convert it to calcium bicarbonate; therefore, it is readily absorbed.
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without permission from the author. For an explanation of copyrights as well as myths click here.