I’ve majored my career in new product development for both the health and pet food industry. Although I develop pet foods, I like to concentrate on supplements as it really tickles my fancy, gets my juices flowing and well ignites that fire inside. I love bio chemistry but there’s also innovation and an artistry to formulating good and effective supplements so I’ll give you some pointers as to how to choose the right supplements for your pets.
You’ll sometimes get professionals and non-professionals saying supplements are a waste of money and not worthwhile. This is true if you 1. you don’t know what the issue is and blindly choose something to help the problem or 2. buy something that hasn’t been formulated well or contains inferior ingredients.
For a supplement to work there has to be fine tuning to a product. I follow a principle called the 8 element system which is a naturopathic approach at looking at several body systems to consider what happens in its entirety and not looking at masking a problem. Like pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals can just mask an issue if all aspects of health are not looked at. When formulating a product, we consider energy, immunity, digestion, detoxification, structure, neurological, hormonal and stress levels (including inflammation). I always develop synergistic blends that work in perfect harmony to establish nourishment, balance and restoration no matter what the situation. As you can imagine diet alone cannot often achieve this, especially if symptoms or disease are showing. Supplements help to modulate systems and food alone often cannot do this (although food is also incredibly important).
The main criteria for choosing a good supplement
· Know what your pet requires; problem specific or nutritional deficiencies for example
· Check the source of ingredients; provenance of herbs, extraction or types of minerals
· Clinically tested for absorbability; no point in taking it if your pet can’t absorb it
· Clinically tested for pureness and safety
· Manufactured by a legit R&D company
· Well-priced for what you are getting
1 Know what your pet requires (problem specific or nutritional deficiencies for example)
It’s important to know what is going on for your pet before purchasing a/several supplements for them. There are some wonderful tests to check mineral status for pets that can be used to establish any nutritional deficiencies in your pet. Don’t allow for blood tests they are inconclusive due to the blood leaching minerals from other parts of the body to try and obtain equilibrium, thus creating an unclear picture of health. If you have been to the vet and received a diagnosis such as arthritis or a nutritional deficiency, then you can get looking for your ideal supplement. If you are at a loss and there are lots of things going on for your pet, this is when coming to see someone like myself can help.
2 Check the source of ingredients; provenance of herbs, extraction or types of minerals used and so forth
The source of any ingredient is important. If it’s a herb, it’s good to know it’s provenance, purity, extraction method and also how it is delivered. I love herbs and they have a beautiful nutritive and supportive role for so many systems in the body. Herbs can be adaptogenic so can up or down regulate a process in the body. This is clever and intuitive and unlike any pharmaceuticals we know of, however the purity, extraction and delivery method is important to how effective it may be. For example, I would choose organic for those herbs that are commonly used and extensively farmed. Echinacea is one of the most abundant and commonly used herbs in the industry but a mass farmed batch from China is probably less nutritive and clean than an organic echinacea grown in the Swiss Alps at high altitudes. Every herb and every ingredient has a story. Look to see what companies write about their ingredients used and why they have selected them.
The type of substrates (binders) in minerals are also important. Different forms of mineral perform different mechanisms but may not be as bioavailable as another. Calcium and magnesium are great examples of this. Calcium carbonate is the cheapest calcium option on the market and the most wildly researched calcium in the pet industry. However, we know from research that calcium carbonate is very hard to absorb even though it’s around 40% pure calcium. Calcium citrate is probably second in line for expense but much better absorbed and around 20% pure calcium. Therefore I would always choose better absorbed options such as citrate.
3 Clinically tested for absorbability; no point in taking it if your pet can’t absorb it
I sometimes use registered ingredients that can claim and supply clinical data to support the product and gives sound piece of mind as to how effective it is. An example of this is with curcumin.
Curcumin is an active extract and effective curcuminoid compound found in turmeric. Turmeric is something everyone seems to be talking about at the moment, whether buying a supplement or just reaching into the kitchen cupboard. And rightly so, this is an awesome and effective ingredient for many health related issues. However, I don’t use regular turmeric or curcumin as it’s hard to assimilate in the body.
I therefore use and look out for certain patented curcumins such as Ultrasol® or Curcuwin® that have proven increased bioavailability by making them water soluble or liposomal without having to use added ingredients such as Bioperine®. Bioperine® a pepper extract is well researched for increasing other ingredients bioavailability by interfering with a process called glucuronidation in the liver. It slows down the metabolism and excretion of curcumin thus extending it's life. I prefer to work with ingredients that solely enhance processes within the body and not dampen them down and so avoid ingredients like Bioperine®. Research does show that curcumin is also better absorbed with the whole turmeric that contains a number of curcuminoids. Therefore I like to see a plain old turmeric added into a supplement with an absorbable and registered curcumin. Does that make sense?
4 Clinically tested for pureness and safety
If you choose ingredients that have been researched or registered there is always clinical data to back up its safety. If the product has been registered ® then this highlights there is safety clinical data attached to the product. I always like to see what peer reviewed articles are on any given ingredient. Pubmed is a wonderful resource if you like researching and have the time.
5 Manufactured by a legitimate R&D company
It is best to look into the company who have created the products. Nice branding doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they are doing. Always look to reputable review sites. Read into the people who developed the products and look at their resume. How long have they been around and do they seem to have the credentials and credibility.
6 Well-priced for what you are getting
Expensive doesn’t always mean better. Supplements need to be affordable but don’t dismiss more expensive products. Some cheaper brands do not use well researched ingredients or well-known absorbable ingredients which may mean their products are not as effective or researched. Always do your research and take all of the above into consideration looking at registered ingredients, research, credentials.....
Look for clean and pure products with no added sugars, colourings, additives or artificial flavourings. Keep an eye out for allergens too such as gluten, dairy, soy and sulphites as these can often be used in supplements and by law these must be listed on a label.
Always check the safety with other medications. If your pet is on medication, research and check with your veterinarian.
I hope this has been of some help. In my next blog I'll write about the top 5 supplements most commonly used and the brands I recommend.
Love, tickles and health.