But it's impossible to avoid oxidative stress because free radicals are produced by normal processes in the body (like the release of adrenaline) and from environmental sources such as ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke, rancid oil, food additives and other pollutants. Once they are released, they multiply geometrically in chain reactions, unless they are stopped by antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants … and why does your pet need them?
Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals, enzymes or other chemical compounds that give up an electron to stop oxidation. They play a key role in neutralizing the estimated 10,000 “oxidative hits" each cell suffers a day. In other words, antioxidants are able to destroy free radicals in body cells before they can attack DNA or cause lipids to oxidize.
Research has found that dogs and cats that are given antioxidant supplements—such as vitamins A, C and E, selenium and alpha lipoic acid—have a stronger immune system and are able to fight disease and infection more easily than animals who eat a highly processed diet deficient in these nutrients. Antioxidant supplementation is especially important for animals that are being treated for cancer or have other diseases that wreak havoc on their immune systems.
Antioxidants play a Key Role in Preventing Disease
Vitamin A is manufactured by humans and animals from pigment substances called carotenes, which are commonly found in plants. Vitamin A is fat-soluble.
Vitamin A is essential for:
- Supporting healthy eyesight
- Maintaining healthy skin and mucous membrane
- Growth and proper digestion
- The production of red and white corpuscles in the blood
- Growth and repair of body tissues
- Protecting the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections
- Protecting against environmental pollutants
- Aiding in bone and teeth formation
A deficiency of vitamin A may result in night blindness; increased susceptibility to infections; rough, dry, scaly skin; loss of smell and appetite; fatigue; lack of eye-tearing; and defective teeth and retarded gum growth.
Vitamin A is especially beneficial to aging animals, and those suffering from respiratory problems (asthma, bronchitis), and atopic dermatitis.
Caution: An overdose of vitamin A can be toxic. Signs of toxicity include anorexia, weight loss, sensitivity to touch, and loss of bone density, which may cause fractures.
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Mixed Carotenoids contains antioxidants found in carotenoid-rich foods. Carotenoids are the red, orange and yellow plant pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vivid colors. All fruits and vegetables contain varying concentrations of carotenoids, but their colors are often covered up by green chlorophyll contained in the plant. There are more than 600 different naturally occurring carotenoids. Some of them have been identified as playing a vital role by protecting cells and tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals and singlet oxygen. Carotenoids have also been shown to enhance immune system function, and inhibit the development of certain types of cancers.
- Lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color, is particularly effective at quenching the destructive free radical singlet oxygen.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, found in corn and leafy greens such as kale and spinach, provide antioxidant protection in the macular region of the eye.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to reduce the incidence of cataracts.
A deficiency of carotenoids may result in vision problems, especially cataracts.
Mixed carotenoids are especially beneficial to animals with cancer, cataracts and other eye disorders, respiratory problems and allergies.
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Vitamin C is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, which makes it an important weapon in the immune system’s arsenal against bacteria and viruses. It also helps protect unsaturated fatty acids, and the fat-soluble vitamins A and E from being oxidized, therefore protecting their potency. Since your pet can’t manufacture it, vitamin C must be obtained through diet and supplementation.
A protective vitamin essential to over-all body health, vitamin C is especially important for neutralizing free radicals. It also:
- Helps in the production of collagen, and maintaining healthy skin
- Promotes the healing of wounds, scar tissue, fractures
- Strengthens blood vessels
- Helps the body utilize iron and folic acid
- Supports the thymus gland
- Enhances T-cell production, increasing resistance to viral and bacterial infections, and some allergies
A deficiency of vitamin C may result in bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow healing of wounds and fractures, the tendency to bruise or bleed in any part of the body, and scurvy.
Vitamin C is especially beneficial to animals with any type of chronic disease, infection, allergy or dermatitis.
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Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is a major antioxidant nutrient that occurs in both plant and animal tissue. It is fat-soluble and:
- Acts in the body to protect red blood cells, vitamin A and unsaturated fatty acids from oxidation damage
- Helps maintain healthy membrane tissue
- Retards cellular aging due to oxidation
- Supplies oxygen to the blood, which is then carried to the heart and other organs, thus alleviating fatigue
- Brings nourishment to cells
- Strengthens the capillary walls
A deficiency of vitamin E may lead to a rupture of red blood cells, loss of reproductive powers, abnormal fat deposits in muscles, degenerative changes in the changes in the heart and other muscles; and dry skin.
It is especially beneficial to aging animals, and animals with heart disease, cancer and atopic dermatitis.
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Selenium is a mineral and a major antioxidant nutrient. Selenium:
- Protects cell membranes and helps prevent free radical generation
- Preserves tissue elasticity
- Slows down the aging and hardening of tissues due to oxidation
- Helps in the treatment and prevention of dry, flaky skin
A deficiency of selenium may result in premature aging, heart disease, dry, flaky skin and sagging skin.
Selenium is especially beneficial to animals being treated with corticosteroids, which are known to deplete selenium. Selenium is also beneficial to animals suffering from cancer (and as a cancer preventative) and to those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Caution: Selenium can be toxic in overdose. Signs of toxicity including vomiting, anorexia, nervousness, staggering gait, weakness and difficulty breathing.
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Grape seed extract (GSE) (Vitis Vinnifera) is an extract from grape seeds from red grapes. Grape seeds have a high content of compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidins— better known as OPCs, which are potent antioxidants. Because of their simple chemical structure, OPCs are readily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Grape seed extract:
- Protects the body from premature aging and disease
- Supports healthy skin
- Promotes cellular health, elasticity, and flexibility
- Improves blood circulation by strengthening capillaries, arteries, and veins
- Reduces risk of cataracts
- Protects against cancer
- Provides cardiovascular support
Grade seed extract is especially beneficial to aging animals, and animals with cataracts, cancer and heart disease.
On the Safety of Grape Seed Extract: Grapes and raisins have been of much debate in the past few years. Here is a short quote from the Veterinary Information Network board posts ”Ingestion of grapes or raisins has been associated with acute renal failure in dogs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cats may also be affected… Being a fructose sugar, it is quickly eliminated through the kidneys where it reaches high tissue levels. It then causes a certain cell “power house” called the mitochondria to open and allow calcium to enter.” This causes the mitochondria to stop functioning, therefore the death of the cell. “Recent unpublished data indicates that the toxic component is water soluble, and within the flesh of the grape/raisin, not the seed. Thus the current thinking is that grape seed may be safe to use.”
Grape seed is often found with antioxidant supplements used for human cancer treatments. The seed induces the cell deaths of highly replicating cancer cells. There was a study done on men with prostate carcinoma which showed approximately 90% inhibition of the pathways that induces the growth of the cancer cells.
The flavanoids in the seed are known to reduce inflammation, and support the immune system particularly with respiratory issues, allergies, and skin problems. It has been used in cats and dogs successfully without any reported problems.
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Milk Thistle Extract, from the bright pink-flowered thistle that
grows wild along roadsides, is the favorite herbal liver protector. Valued for its medicinal and nutritional properties for more than 2000 years, milk thistle has been commonly used to treat liver diseases since the Middle Ages. Today, more than 150 clinical studies have shown that milk thistle has a beneficial effect on the liver in humans and in animals.
Milk thistle extract blocks the entrance of harmful toxins and helps to remove these toxins from liver cells. Milk thistle's active ingredient—silymarin—works as a powerful antioxidant, and has also been shown to regenerate injured liver cells by inducing new DNA and RNA synthesis.
- Promotes the flow of bile, which helps emulsify fats
- Protects the outer membrane of liver cells
- Provides antioxidant protection to limit free radical damage
- Regenerates damaged liver cells
Milk thistle extract is especially beneficial to animals with liver disease or damage, and to all animals as a protectant against environmental chemicals and pollutants.
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Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a sulfur-containing fatty acid naturally produced in your pet's body in trace amounts. It's often called the "universal antioxidant" because unlike most other antioxidants—vitamin C for instance, which works only in water, and vitamin E, which works only in fat—ALA, works in both water and fatty tissues. Thus, ALA can provide antioxidant protection to all your pet's cells and parts of its body, including the brain. ALA can also recycle or restore other oxidized forms of antioxidants—including vitamin C and vitamin E— back to their active states.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
- Exerts its powerful and unique antioxidant protection throughout the body
- Restores mitochondrial and cellular antioxidant protection
- Restoring numerous biological functions that are diminished with aging
- Helps prevent cataracts
Alpha lipoic acid is especially beneficial to aging animals, and to those with cataracts.
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All animals can benefit from antioxidant supplementation, but especially aging pets and pets with:
(Click on links to read more about these specific conditons.)
Why Does my Pet Need an Antioxidant Supplement?
Unlike people who—hopefully—eat a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, most dogs and cats eat commercial pet food containing a minimal amount of antioxidants. Whether your dog or cat is healthy or fighting a disease, an antioxidant supplement can provide immune support, protect it from environmental toxins, and may even help prolong its life.
Small Animal Antioxidant
Thorne Research has updated their Small Animal Antioxidant formulas to include:
- Potent plant-based antioxidants – curcumin, grape seed extract, broccoli seed extract, resveratrol, milk thistle, hesperidin, quercetin, and carrot
- Amino acids to enhance glutathione levels – NAC, glycine, glutamic acid, and glutathione itself
- Antioxidants that are powerful free-radical scavengers – ascorbic acid and d-alpha tocopheryl
To purchase or read
more about Small Animal Antioxidant...
Cell Advance 440 (for cats and small dogs)
Cell Advance 440 is recommended to help support the immune system and can be beneficial for dogs and cats with allergies, respiratory problems, skin disorders and many conditions associated with aging.
To purchase or read more about Cell Advance 440...
Cell Advance 880 (for medium to large dogs)
Cell Advance 880 is recommended to help support the immune system and can be beneficial for dogs with allergies, respiratory problems, skin disorders and many conditions associated with aging.
To purchase or read more about Cell Advance 880...
CurcuVET-SA (Curcumin Supplement for Dogs and Cats)
CurcuVET provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support for dogs and cats. Inflammation can lead to arthritis (inflammation of the joints), IBD (inflammation of the intestinal tract) and other chronic health conditions. CurcuVET helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
Available in two sizes - CurcuVET-SA50 for dogs and cats, CurcuVET-SA150 for dogs over 75 lbs.