Discovering the whole food difference for pets! Antioxidants are one of the hottest topics in the health field for pets today. Most people read one or a few articles on the topic of antioxidants and think they know how antioxidants work and why they are important. Think again! What you are going to learn about antioxidants in this article is probably going to surprise you and be of great benefit in keeping your pets healthy. Most of us see antioxidant vitamins such as Vitamin A, C and/or E on pets dog food labels. And, in so doing, we think that we have the problem of oxidative damage in our pet's body under control! Not so, you are about to learn! . It starts with chemists who have attempted to isolate and identify some of the components of food complexes, labeling the seemingly "active" elements as vitamins or other essential nutrients. Yet, there is no possible way that the sum of the parts is equal to the naturally occurring whole. It is only the whole food, intact and unaltered, that works as a nutritional antioxidant source. The isolated parts are not recognized by the body as foods. In large amounts, isolated chemicals function more like drugs, which stimulate or suppress biochemical functions, not provide nourishment or protection for the cells to carry on their vital activities. Vitamins are intricate, interrelated, integrated, united organic nutritive groups. Nature made them as an indistinguishable part of foods for the benefit of reducing oxidative stress. Vitamins are inseparable as working nutrients from trace elements, minerals, proteins, and other elements. Let's look at the antioxidant Vitamin E. Vitamin E complex found naturally in foods is micro-blended naturally with Vitamin E co-factors or components, such as Vitamins A, C & K, Vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid, zinc, iron and essential fatty acids. The problem is that the body cannot use Vitamin E in any internal chemical reaction without the other co-factors. Vitamin E is a complex of nutritional factors, not alpha-tocopherol or mixed tocopherols alone which is what you find in store bought supplements. Once separated from the whole, tocopherols cease to function as vitamins. Natural forms of the Vitamin E complex lose up to 99% of their potency once separated from their normal synergists (DeCava, 1996, p. 119). How about the antioxidant Vitamin A? Vitamin A is a whole family of compounds, including retinol, retinal, retinoids, carotenes, and carotenoids, and always occurs in nature with synergists such as fatty acids, chlorophyll, other vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements. Scientists have identified more than 600 carotenoids so far, and are beginning to realize and admit that "there appears to be a biological relationship between all these carotenoids" (p. 84). Humans need all the related nutrients as found in foods in their natural forms. A synthetic fraction such as the antioxidant beta carotene is not a vitamin in the body; Beta carotene is only a "chemical identifier" on a shelf because it is so labeled and sold as though it was the complete naturally occurring Vitamin A complex (which it is not). How about the antioxidant Vitamin C? A complex Vitamin C is made up of several parts including ascorbic acid, which is what most Vitamin C supplements are made of. Ascorbic acid is only the outer layer of the Vitamin C complex of nutrients. No lab is capable of duplicating all parts of Vitamin C as found in food sources. The Vitamin C complex as it is found in plants contains rutin, the bioflavonoid complex, the "K" factor, the "J" factor, tyronsinase, and components not yet identified, as well as ascorbic acid and ascorbigen (p. 183). If you split up the individual components of the Vitamin C complex in natural food, you destroy its ability to display its normal biological activity. If separated it must recombine with the other members of the complex molecule before it can function as a nutrient. In short, the complex Vitamins A, C and E are like a close-knit family of nutrients. Without the support of the other family members, a single element cannot reach the full health-optimizing potential of all of the members of the family. So what should your antioxidant supplements for your pets be made of, if these isolated antioxidant substitutes are not going to effectively help control oxidative damage? Whole foods antioxidants are the solution. Since some oxidative damage is created through normal body functions, a pet body's own cells produce specific enzymes designed to reduce oxidative damage. Two of these important enzymes produced in the pet's body are superoxide dismutase or SOD and catalase. These enzymes are the pet's front line of defense against oxidative damage. To summarize: Besides the antioxidant nutrients (Vitamin A, C and E) found in foods, antioxidant enzymes (SOD and catalase) are equally as important in protecting the body from oxidative damage. The antioxidant nutrients (A, C and E) are derived from foods and have their primary effect while circulating in the blood outside of the cells, while the antioxidant enzyme system (SOD and catalase) produced by the body and also found in foods, have their primary effects inside and outside the cells. Is there such a supplement that is made of foods that combine both the antioxidant nutrients and enzymes? Yes, it is our unique proprietary formula; Wild Earth. This supplement contains the essential nutrients from nearly one full quart of custom grown organic wheat sprouts, coupled with a generous portion of organic micro, wild, freshwater algae and red beta marine microalgae. Being a whole food antioxidant supplement, it not only contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidant enzyme activity, but also contains every single co-enzyme factor naturally occurring within these foods (A, C, E, different catotenoids, minerals....etc.). The overall synergisitc effect of having all of the enzymes together with it's natural host of nutrients instead of isolated, as in many antioxidant products, is a huge reason why this product is highly effective in controlling oxidative damage. The most important thing to remember is that only with whole foods can you be certain that your pet is receiving all of the nutrients that he/she needs to help them reduce the harm of oxidative damage. Optimal pet health requires "live" biochemicals. It is simply a matter of chemistry versus biochemistry. References: DeCava, Judith A. (1996). The Real Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants. Columbus, Georgia: Brentwood Academic Press.