Vitamins and minerals in fish
Good nutrition is an essential component of your dog’s health and included within this are vitamins and minerals.
Your dog’s body needs many different vitamins and minerals to work properly and so a balanced diet is essential in achieving this. Fish is packed with many nutrients with different fish offering different levels of these important dietary elements.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are nutrients required by your dog’s body in small amounts and have a diverse range of functions. As most vitamins cannot be made by the body, they need to be provided in your dog’s diet. Fish is a great source of vitamins A, B, D and E.
Fish such as herring and cod are excellent sources of vitamin A, known as retinol, which helps promote good vision in low light, slows down age related loss of vision and helps in the treatment of many eye diseases. It helps maintain healthy skin, including the lining of the nose which is essential in your dog’s excellent sense of smell. Vitamin A also helps keep your dog’s immune system in tip top working order, helping it fight off illness and infection, and is necessary for proper bone growth and development, and maintaining healthy bones as your dog ages.
There are eight B-complex vitamins and fish such as cod are a great source of B6, B12 and niacin (B3). These vitamins help to break down and release energy from food, keep the nervous system and skin healthy and help form haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
Vitamin D is also essential to your dog’s wellbeing, with fish like herring and sprats an excellent source. This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous which are both essential in strong bones and teeth throughout your dog’s life.
Finally, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which protects cell membranes, helping to maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthening the immune system.
What are minerals?
Minerals are inorganic substances that are often absorbed more efficiently by the body if supplied in foods rather than as supplements. They are only required in small amounts but have a variety of different functions in your dog’s body. Fish is a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, phosphorous, iodine and iron.
Fish contains calcium, which is the most abundant mineral in your dog’s body and has many important functions. A rich source are small fish like sprats that can be eaten whole and contain small bones. A large proportion of the calcium in your dog’s body is the hard mineral form that gives bones and teeth their strength. Other calcium in the body ensures blood clots normally, regulates muscle contractions including heartbeat and has a role in cellular functioning, nerve function and digestion.
Phosphorus is naturally found in protein-rich foods such as fish, especially cod, and is a critical component of bones and teeth. It also plays a role in the proper function of some B vitamins.
Fish rich in magnesium include cod. This essential mineral works with calcium to form the minerals that make up your dog’s bones. In addition, magnesium aids in proper muscle functioning, maintaining heart health.
Seafood is a particularly good source of selenium, which plays an important role in the immune system and helps prevent damage to cells and tissues.
Iron is important in the production of red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body. If your dog is suffering from a lack of iron it can make them feel weak and tired. The iron in white fish is well absorbed making this a good choice.
High protein foods such as meat and fish are excellent sources of zinc, with herring being a particularly good source. Zinc helps the body to make new cells and enzymes, it helps your dog process the carbohydrate, fat and protein in their food and it helps with wound healing.
Sea fish are a good source of iodine which helps make thyroid hormones, essential in keeping cells and your dog’s metabolic rate healthy.
By adding some fish to your dog’s daily intake, as part of a balanced diet, you can be sure that you’re providing them with a range of essential vitamins and minerals that will help keep them healthy.