Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is in the news lately as being very beneficial for humans - but what about our canine friends?

Vitamin D is the general name given to a group of fat-soluble compounds that are essential for maintaining the mineral balance in the body.

Vitamin D is also known as 'the sunshine vitamin.' Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is important to convert Vitamin D precursors into the active D form. This conversion takes place in the outer skin layers. Small amounts of Vitamin D are also obtained directly through the diet, usually from meat such as liver or from fish.

How does my dog get Vitamin D?

A dog's body has two sources of Vitamin D; that from the diet and that manufactured in the skin. For this reason, some researchers view it as a hormone rather than a vitamin.

Main functions in a nutshell:

    * Regulation of calcium and phosphate blood levels
    * Bone mineralisation
    * Control of cell proliferation and differentiation
    * Modulation of immune system

Dietary Sources
Vitamin D is found only in a few foods. The richest natural sources of vitamin D are saltwater fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel. Eggs, meat, milk and butter also contain small amounts. Plants are poor sources, with fruit and nuts containing no vitamin D at all.

Vitamin D is stored in special fat storage cells called lipocytes. It is for this reason that the fat soluble vitamins pose the biggest threat if oversupplemented. They are stored and build up within the body.

How much Vitamin D does my dog need?

The recommended minimum daily dose is 227 IU per pound of consumed food. This amount can be easily obtained through exposure to sunshine (converted into Vitamin D in the upper layers of the skin) and consumption of liver or fish such as sardines or salmon.