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Vitamins and Minerals in Raw 

Updated 12/16/2019

Having a complete and balanced diet for your dog or cat is essential for their health and quality of life. Nothing could have them thriving more than a species appropriate raw diet!

Dogs, cats, and other domestic carnivores obtain ALL of the vitamins and minerals they need from a PMR (Prey Model Raw) diet. In order to achieve optimum nutrition and balance you should provide:

  • At least 3-4 proteins. Most of them being red meat such as beef, lamb, goat, venison etc.

  • At least 2-3 sources of liver. Rotated and fed at 5%.

  • At least 2-3 sources of other secreting organs such as kidney, spleen, pancreas etc. Also rotated and fed at 5%.

  • Muscular organs, especially heart and tripe.

  • Oily Fish

  • Eggs

Recently there’s been some controversy and confusion going around that “all raw meat diets” or “ratio diets” are deficient in certain nutrients. More specifically Manganese, Zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Iodine, & Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Acid (EPA+DHA). While this can be true IF you aren’t sourcing properly and are not feeding a wide variety (especially of organ meats and fish) all this can be obtained through a PMR diet without the use of synthetic supplements and unnecessary carbs, veg or fruit. Since PMR fed dogs do not need to metabolize carbs, their needs for some nutrients like Vit C and E for example is less than for kibble fed dogs. (Dogs can synthesize their own Vit C.) 

Most vitamins are manufactured in the gut by the bacteria that reside there, so vitamin deficiency is just a symptom of a damaged microbiome in many cases. Synthetic vitamins are missing co-factors and don't respond in the body the same way real vitamins do. Real vitamins are complexes while synthetic vitamins are just fractions of vitamins that sometime act unpredictably in the body and therefore not bio available.

The raw diet is a whole nother 'animal' than a processed, starch-filled diet and when it comes to micronutrients you can't extrapolate NRC guidelines. Vitamins and minerals (not to mention nutraceuticals) are a complex, agonistic whole - they all work synergistically and our rudimentary understanding of nutrition can't possibly replace what mother nature made for our pets to eat. 

Below we’ll go over these essential nutrients as well as others and where they can be found in a raw (PMR) diet.*Please note this list is not of all sources possible. This is compiled to give you reassurance that feeding a PMR diet is sufficient in nutrients for your companion.*

Manganese: is an essential trace element that is naturally present in many foods. Manganese is needed to produce energy, metabolize protein, and to make fatty acids. It can be found in meat, poultry, green tripe, especially in mussels such as Green Lipped Mussels and of course whole prey. 

Quote:

"Similarly, while the concentration of manganese in cereal grains is significant, the high content of phytates and fiber constituents may bind manganese, limiting its absorption.

Thus, while a calculation of intake based on nutrient composition of foods may show that manganese intake is high, the actual amount of manganese absorbed will vary among food sources.

Similarly, although meat products contain low concentrations of manganese, absorption and retention of manganese from them are high, making them good sources of the element in the diet". {
source}

Zinc: a mineral that’s important for strong immune function, healing wounds, and to support normal growth can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Secreting organs such as liver and kidney.

  • Muscular organs like heart, gizzards, tongue and green tripe.

  • Muscle Meat (especially from lamb, beef, pork, and turkey)

  • Eggs

  • Oysters

  • Sardines

  • Salmon

Vitamin E: a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant protecting cells from the damage caused by free radicals can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Brain

  • Eggs

  • Sardines

  • Green Lipped Mussels 

Establishing vitamin E requirements is complicated because the body stores both vitamin E and selenium. A number of studies to establish requirements for both nutrients have underestimated the requirements by failing to account for their augmentation from body stores as well as experimental dietary concentrations. {source} For all classes of dogs, 50 IU of vitamin E is recommended per kg (22.7 IU per lb) of diet. The need for supplementation of vitamin E depends on the requirement of individuals, how food is processed and the amount of available vitamin E in food sources. If diets have relatively large quantities of meat, fat, organs, and eggs, plenty of vitamin E will be provided.

Read more on Vitamin E here.

Vitamin D: helps to maintain the health of bones and teeth. Supports the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system is found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Eggs

  • Sardines

  • Salmon

  • Atlantic mackerel

Iodine: a mineral that’s important for proper thyroid function.

  • Seafood such as sardines are rich in Iodine

  • Eggs

  • Kelp*

*While kelp may not be “species appropriate” there is an exception to the rule as due to soil depletion in some countries it can be essential in making up for missing nutrients such as Iodine. However, we would not recommend giving kelp to those that have thyroid issues nor over using it as a supplement.

According to Dr. Judy Morgan…. “excessive iodine supplementation can result in the overproduction of the T4 and T3 in dogs and cats, which triggers unintended cascading effects: in dogs, the immune system may wind up attacking the thyroid gland (producing excessive amounts of thyroglobulin autoantibody) which end up suppressing thyroid levels and causing the very hypothyroidism it was meant to prevent; whereas in cats, the overdosing can result in overt hyperthyroidism.

Eicosapentaenoic & Docosahexaenoic Acid (EPA+DHA): Essential Omega 3 fatty acids that are important for healthy brain and heart function and also helps reduce inflammation. Oily fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and herring are packed with these important parts of the diet as well as GLM (green lipped mussels).

Other nutrients and where they can be found:

*Remember this is just a short list compiled for reassurance. There are a number of proteins and organs that provide key nutrients as well*

Vitamins

Vitamin A: is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A can found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Chicken

  • Pork

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Brain

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): is essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function. Vitamin B1 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Poultry such as chicken and turkey

  • Red meat like beef, pork, lamb and goat

  • Rabbit

  • Liver

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):  is crucial for breaking down food components, absorbing other nutrients, and maintaining tissues. Vitamin B2 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Heart

  • Kidney

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Rabbit

  • Fish

  • Eggs

 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): important for supporting functions in the digestive system, skin and nervous system. Vitamin B3 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Fish

  • Eggs

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): is needed to synthesize coenzyme-A, as well as to synthesize and metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Vitamin B5 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Heart

  • Kidney

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): is needed to produce hydrochloric acid. Aids in absorption of fats, and protein. Vitamin B6 can be found in:

  • Liver

  • Heart

  • Kidney

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folic Acid): is necessary for the production of red blood cells, for the synthesis of DNA, and also helps with tissue growth and cell function. Vitamin B9 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Heart

  • Kidney

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin): Is important for protecting the nervous system, aids in digestion, and improves concentration. Can also help with anemia. Vitamin B12 can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Heart

  • Kidney

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry 

  • Red meat 

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): As mentioned above dogs can synthesize their own Vit C. However it is good for enhancing immunity and also aids in production of anti-stress hormones. Vitamin C can be found in:

  • Liver

  • Kidney

  • Heart

  • Fish

Vitamin K: promotes healthy liver function as well as helps in the formation of bones. Vitamin K can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Liver

  • Fish

  • Eggs

Minerals

Calcium: protects bones and teeth. Helps maintain regular heartbeat and prevents muscle cramping. Calcium is found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • RMB's (Raw Meaty Bones)

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Fish 

  • Eggs

Copper: protects against anemia and is needed for healthy bones and joints. Also converts iron into hemoglobin. Copper can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Iron: is important for the production of hemoglobin as well as being essential for metabolism. Iron can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

 

Magnesium:  is important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and making protein, bone, and DNA. Magnesium can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

 

Phosphorus: is important for teeth and bone formation. Is also good for normal heart rhythm and kidney function. Phosphorus can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

Selenium: helps to regulate thyroid hormones as well as protects the immune system. Selenium can be found in:

  • Whole Prey

  • Rabbit

  • Poultry

  • Red meat

  • Eggs

  • Fish

In conclusion, feeding a variety of at least 3-4 proteins (most being red), secreting organs from each source when possible, muscular organs (especially heart and green tripe), eggs and oily fish is all that’s needed to have your companion thriving! The only things that could interfere with this would be poor digestion, improper immune function due to vaccines, heartworm/flea preventative etc or an underlying health condition. To boost immune function and digestion it’s recommended to add a pre & probiotic to your feeding routine and cut out yearly vaccines and preventatives in order to obtain proper nutrient absorption.

Stay tuned for our article on Gut Health coming soon.

You can view the foods we've listed and more by visiting FoodData Central and simply using the search function. 

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