Using a methodical approach, we can put together the right macronutrient balance as well as most of the nutrient requirements. Here, we give you a behind the scenes look at the list of challenging nutrients and how we procure them. Those of you who are mixing your own recipe at home. This will be a very useful article.
The first list of challenging nutrients includes choline, vitamin B1, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, and copper.
Choline is richest in eggs. If you are feeding egg yolks regularly, you have met choline needs. And if you are providing free-range eggs (or at least a good quality product), you are also providing an excellent source of vitamin D and possibly even vitamin E if the chickens are pasture fed. On top of that, eggs are rich in B vitamins, calcium, selenium, iron, and zinc providing a wealth of nutrients and benefits. Chicken should not be left out of the diet unless it is a confirmed allergy. Quail eggs are also excellent, but they are tiny and are best for tiny dogs and cats if you are using them to fulfil nutrients. You will see that we have used good quality eggs in our meat packs to cancel many of our nutrient deficiencies.
Deficiency can lead to muscle damage, liver damage, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Vitamin B1, known as thiamin, is richest in pork, salmon, trout, mussels, and eggs. If you are not feeding at least one of these proteins regularly, there is a chance that your B1 (thiamin) levels may be on the low side. There is a vitally important detail you must be made aware of. If you are feeding raw fish and shellfish, you may be setting your pet up for a dangerous thiamin deficiency. All shellfish and most fish contain an enzyme known as thiaminase. Thiaminase is found in many commonly fed fish in the raw diet. This enzyme destroys the vitamin thiamin making it useless to the body. In order to destroy the thiaminase contained within the fish and shellfish, you must cook it thoroughly before feeding it to your pet. Otherwise, use non-thiaminase containing fish like we did (Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic Salmon). We also offer nutritional yeast by sprinkling it over your pet’s meals. Nutritional yeast is not an active yeast and has nothing to do with yeast and fungal infections. Most dogs and cats love nutritional yeast because it has a cheesy flavor.
The underlying pathophysiology of thiamine deficiency is multifactorial in nature and involves a wide-ranging cascade of events that involves impairment of glucose metabolism, ultimately resulting in neuronal cell death within weeks.
Vitamin D, besides egg yolks, is also found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon. Only a small amount of fish is needed in the diet (10%). You get the benefit of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids along with a wealth of other vital nutrients. This is one of the main reasons we created the seafood pack. We were quite sure pet parents would not be too keen on a lizard pack (another rich source of vitamin D).
Deficiency can lead to weight loss, bone deformities and kidney and liver problems.
Magnesium may look difficult on auditing programs due to the programs’ lack of account for bone minerals. Bones contain magnesium. In fact, 60% of body magnesium is stored within bones. If you are feeding an ample bone percentage, your pet is getting a wealth of bioavailable magnesium along with other nutrients. Magnesium is also found in impressive amounts in salmon, mackerel, and halibut (even tuna, but we don’t recommend feeding tuna due to its mercury content). Eggshell also contains magnesium so it is a good alternative, but take note that eggshells are not a great replacement for bones if you’re feeding kittens or puppies.
Deficiency can lead to tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms.
Iron is also quite easy to source for adult pets if you are regularly feeding red meats, organs (notably spleen), and especially if you are adding myoglobin. Myoglobin is the red “juice” drippings from meat and organs that many people mistake for blood. It is a very rich source of iron and amino acids. And guess where else iron is found? BONES! But when it comes to puppies and kittens, their need for iron is higher for their growth and development. If you can source spleen, this will easily meet a young pet’s iron requirement.
Deficiency, known as anaemia, may leave you tired and short of breath.
Copper is actually too easy to source and that can be a problem because too much is not a good thing. If you are regularly feeding beef or calf liver, lamb liver, or goat liver, be mindful to not to feed too much. Copper can cause toxicity and a zinc deficiency. However, if you’re not feeding any of the above mentioned liver, your copper yield in meals will be too low. In this case you may be looking at a copper deficiency. So be sure to feed beef, calf, lamb, goat, or even duck liver (which yields moderate amounts of copper) as a regular part of meals in just the right amount for your pet’s needs.
Deficiency results in fatigue and weakness, frequent sickness, weak and brittle bones, difficulties walking, increased cold sensitivity and vision loss.
Let’s move on to the hardest-to-source nutrients. These are vitamin E, zinc, manganese, and iodine.
Vitamin E – As a raw food formulator, vitamin E is probably the most challenging nutrient requirement for me to meet. Vitamin E is rich in free-range egg yolks and especially rich in eggs from chickens fed a vitamin E supplemented diet. Vitamin E is even found in the bone marrow of mammals. Bone marrow contains only small amounts of E, but it is a highly bioavailable source. A great tip is that selenium does the job of vitamin E. If you are feeding ample amounts of selenium (2-3X) (which is not at all hard to do) then meeting the NRC vitamin E value is not essential, especially if you are providing eggs and bone marrow. However, to comply with AAFCO’s recommendations, this is one of the very few nutrients that I resort to using a supplement.
Deficiency leads to nerve and muscle damage that results in loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness, and vision problems. Another sign of deficiency is a weakened immune system.
Zinc is also quite tricky. Some seeds contain impressive amounts of zinc but you will have to crush them into powder to make the nutrients bioavailable for predators as their digestive tracts are not suitable for digesting seeds. The easiest way to meet zinc requirements would be to use boiled oysters. Oysters are so high in zinc you only need very small amounts once a week to meet the zinc requirement. Beef, lamb, and bone are also excellent sources of zinc but are nowhere close compared to oysters.
Deficiency can cause lesions, as well as growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function.
Manganese is tricky if you are averse to feeding insects, such as black soldier fly larvae to your pet. Green tripe and mussels are rich sources of this vital trace mineral. These ingredients are not always feasible, however. A lot of cats are not interested in green tripe no matter how you try to feed them while mussels can be quite costly. Manganese is also rich in bones, notably joint tissue, ligaments, cartilage, and bone marrow. It is also found in smaller amounts in pancreas, liver, and kidney.
Deficiency can cause bone demineralization and poor growth, rashes, hair depigmentation and decreased serum cholesterol.
Iodine is probably one of the most difficult nutrients to source. Nearly all foods contain trace amounts of iodine. Iodine is found in seafood, free-range eggs, milk products, and organs. The easiest source of iodine is the seaweed, especially kelp. But because kelp is so high in iodine, you must take great caution to be sure you only ever use a supplement that is analyzed for iodine levels. NEVER exceed the recommended dose for your pet. In fact, if you have a large breed, do NOT exceed 300 mcg per day. The recommendation for a human is 150 mcg per day. Studies have found that anything over 400 mcg can potentially cause thyroid dysfunction.
Deficiency leads to swelling in the neck, pregnancy-related issues, weight gain and mental conditions. Its symptoms are very similar to those of hypothyroidism. Too much iodine, however, may cause hyperthyroidism.