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In my last post about fish oil, lipids, and antioxidants. I talked about how these lipids increase the requirement for antioxidants- primarily vitamin E.
While feeding "this for that" has a place, it is quite important to remember the whole diet and why we are feeding something. A quick background, vitamin E's primary role is an antioxidant. When fats oxidize in the body, vitamin E prevents the chain reaction that would result in the damage and death of cells.
In nutrition science (or science in general), we are careful to use the word "certainly." However, when it comes to vitamin E and polyunsaturated fat, there is certainly an increased need for vitamin E when polyunsaturated fat in the diet increases. What is polyunsaturated fat?
Simply, polyunsaturated fat is a type of fat that is not saturated in hydrogen (that would be saturated fat). They have multiple double bonds and results in them being liquid at room temperature. Butter is saturated fat and the fats stack nice and neatly and is solid at room temperature. Really, what you need to know is this type of fat is fragile in and outside of the body (in food). Why might we include this type of fat in the diet if it is so fragile? Well, the essential fatty acids (omega 3 an 6) are polyunsaturated fat! These guys are critical for skin, gut, brain, immune health (and more)! It is important that these are in the diet. A diet rich in eggs, organs, fish, and some meats will be rich in both of these essential fatty acids. Sometimes we might need more omega 3 so we use a fish oil- or sometimes we don't have access to good quality fish. All of these things require that adequate vitamin E be in the diet. Even certain conditions- like chronic kidney disease- will increase the requirement of vitamin E.
When we look at what foods are high in vitamin E, we will see wheat germ oil right away. However, we will also see that wheatgerm oil is very high in polyunsaturated fat. So then, the vitamin E in wheatgerm oil is better suited to address the amount of polyunsaturated fat in the wheat germ oil and won't provide the vitamin E that the diet may need. It definitely won't if fish and fish oil is fed. (See featured image)
So what is a dog owner to do? If you are feeding high amounts of fish oil and have a good reason for doing so, you will need to supplement (and please read the previous post). For all dog owners, a diet with fruits and veggies provides vitamin E in various forms. For older dogs or dogs who may have a history of low vitamin E (quite often this could be unbalanced homemade or some kibbles), a high quality supplement should be considered.
Have questions? Need dosing help? Discuss below. Lipids and antioxidants are some of my favorite things to chat about. It doesn't just stop at vitamin E.
Picture from Chris Masterjohn, PhD