Antioxidants help fight oxidation which is the normal chemical process that we associate with things breaking down. The term antioxidant can be applied to two different groups of substances namely industrial and biological. Rust on metal is a form of industrial oxidation whilst an apple browning after being cut would be an example of biological oxidation. Oxidation is an essential part of living inside the body and produces cellular by-products referred to as free radicals. Free radicals are used by the body to fight off certain infections but when free radicals become excessive, they threaten the health of our (and our dog’s) bodies.
The most important property of free radicals is their ability to combine very quickly with other elements. As they are missing a critical molecule they aggressively seek out to replace that molecule from other cells. Excessive free radicals combine with healthy cells in the body and damage the cell thereby causing undesirable changes and DNA damage which creates the basis for disease. Exposure to ultraviolet rays, excessive environmental pollutants (pesticides, antibiotics, vaccines) and tobacco smoke generates high levels of free radicals. This oxidative stress contributes to premature aging as well as chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and cataracts. Antioxidants help to ‘spare’ cells from damage by binding with free radicals.
This would imply that the intake of as many antioxidants as possible is good for health. The benefits of antioxidant therapy have not been proven, nor are there guidelines for what quantities are required for optimal health. The best source of antioxidants is from a fresh, whole food diet as opposed to supplementation. Whole foods (preferably from an organic source) have combinations of antioxidants that work together as a team to combat oxidation reactions.
There are a number of steps to take to combat the formation of free radicals in your animal companion. First, manage the exposure to environmental toxins and pharmaceuticals. Second, consider feeding a fresh, organic diet. Some research shows that raw is ideal however home cooked meals are also valuable. This is a controversial topic and would require more than one blog to address. Logically, commercial processed foods have very little nutritional value. (Google a documentary “Pet Fooled” for more information on the pet food industry). Adding small amounts of fresh, whole food will benefit your companion. Third, if processed food is what you choose to feed then add an antioxidant supplement to the diet. There is loads of information on the internet and all sites recommend Vitamin C, E and A, carotenoids and selenium. The source of these supplements should be carefully investigated for their bioavailability and their presentation. Biological sources of Vitamin C are more readily absorbed by the body than ascorbic acid manufactured in a laboratory. A whole food product has balanced amounts of each component (from the plant or animal) implying that there are many synergistic and positive reactions that occur between molecules, of which we have no knowledge. AHAH recommends and stocks an algae supplement called BioPreparation (for animals) and BioSuperFood (for people). https://bionutrition.com/ Information and additional reading available on request.
A useful site for information: http://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/antioxidants-for-dogs.html