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    Optimum Health with Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which plays the essential role of an antioxidant to slow down the effects of ageing. It is known as a scavenger of free radicals in the body, assisting longevity and quality of health.

    Vitamin C is considered to be an important addition to the immune system by enhancing ‘T cell’ production. T cells are essential to resist and fight infections. (The Internet Pet 2007)

    This powerful vitamin helps to protect unsaturated fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins A and E from being oxidised, therefore protecting their potency (Goldstein 1999). Vitamins A and E are also antioxidants, truly ‘a must have’ for those of us concerned with maintaining youth and slowing down the ageing process.

    There are in fact several forms of vitamin C both acidic and non-acidic. For example, sodium ascorbate, a non-acidic form of vitamin C, is useful in the prevention and treatment of Hip Displasia (Zucker 1999)

    The various forms of Vitamin C are:

    - Calcium ascorbate acidic (bitter tasting)
    - Ascorbic acid very acidic (sour tasting)
    - Sodium ascorbate non acidic (the most mild tasting)
    - Rosehips a natural source of vitamin C from the seed pods of roses
    - Ester C non-acidic, pH neutral

    The type of vitamin C to add to the diet depends upon the ailment being presented. For example
    Ester C is effective for the treatment of degenerative joint disease, the regeneration of cartilage, immune stimulation and painful movement (Goldstein 2005)

    There is a general belief in the Veterinary field that as cats and dogs produce their own Vitamin C in the liver, they do not require any further supplementation. However there is controversy over how much a domestic pet actually produces if any.
    According to Veterinarian Martin Zucker, many cats and dogs are poor producers of Vitamin C, and as a result, they should be given a health maintenance dose in their diet on a regular basis (Zucker 1999)

    There are so many diseases that our pets can potentially suffer from and the amount of Vitamin C our pets can produce themselves is insufficient to prevent or assist health problems (Puotinen 1999).

    More importantly, in a world of chemical additives, heavily processed foods, environmental pollutants, medications, vaccinations, and the variety of stressful situations where our pet’s immune system is forever being challenged, there is certainly a need for extra supplementation not only in our pet’s lives but also in our own.

    As Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin it is not accumulated in the body. Therefore any excess Vitamin C will be urinated out of the body or at worst, in a high dose it becomes a natural laxative and causes diarrhoea.
    The Benefits of Vitamin C according to most holistic practitioners are:

    - It’s a fighting tool against bacterial and viral infections
    - Assists in the mobilisation of calcium to prevent bone and joint problems
    - It boosts the immune system assisting in wound healing
    - Assists in fighting cancer, feline urinary tract diseases
    - Alleviates arthritis
    - Brings more acidity (ascorbate) into an alkaline environment, assisting for example: Cystitis and bladder stones
    - Assists the immune system to fight respiratory diseases, parvovirus, kidney disease, feline leukaemia and feline distemper (Goldstein 1999).
    - Vitamin C assists the adrenal glands
    - Assists collagen synthesis and as a result more healthy skin
    - Assists healthy gum maintenance and therefore a preventative and treatment of gingivitis
    - Helps to metabolise several B vitamins
    - Helps to alleviate allergies such as asthma
    - May alleviate epilepsy
    - Assists in the synthesis of cholesterol (Messonnier 2001).

    The above list, although not complete, shows the importance of this readily available, inexpensive vitamin in the health and well being of our cats and dogs.

    There is however a particular health issue that does not benefit from vitamin C, ‘calcium oxalate stones,’ in cats and dogs (the online pet 2007). As vitamin C is a precursor for oxalate it is advisable to not supplement vitamin C in this case. (Messonnier 2001)

    Here are four situations where our pets could indeed benefit from Vitamin C supplements and how some holistic Veterinarians have treated and documented positive results:

    A cat with Feline Leukaemia
    has a greatly diminished immune system, which can benefit from the assistance of high doses of vitamin C. As high doses of vitamin C taken orally can cause diarrhoea, Dr Goldstein (Holistic Veterinarian) administers the vitamin intravenously. This way, the vitamin bypasses the gut and becomes far more beneficial. Cats injected with 12g or more of vitamin C a day greatly boosts their immune system to fight disease. (Goldstein 1999) Note: this amount of vitamin C cannot be given orally as it would cause stomach upset and diarrhoea.

    A cat or dog with Hip Displasia’
    According to Dr Goldstein, pets with this degenerative, painful disease all show high levels of a substance called, ‘alkaline phosphatase,’ which is a major sign of overworked adrenal glands. Vitamin C in the acidic form of ascorbic acid helps to increase acidity and as a result lower alkalinity. This effect then allows the adrenal glands to control inflammation in their efforts to eliminate toxins. (Goldstein 1999)
    According to Dr Belfield Hip Displasia is linked directly to insufficient vitamin C in the diet. When he researched cases of large dogs with this degenerative disease, they all showed the same signs of joints and ligaments low in collagen due to a lack of ascorbate. (Belfield 1998)
    As Vitamin C in its non-acidic form is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of collagen, supplementing vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate can prevent this serious problem. (Dr Belfield, Lapdog Limited website)

    Cancer, for the treatment or prevention of.
    Vitamin C stimulates various parts of the immune system including white blood cell (lymphocyte) activity.
    It helps to neutralise ‘
    cancer causing chemicals’ and ‘free radicals.’
    Vitamin C improves appetite for the cancer patient so they can maintain their energy levels. B complex is an excellent, natural appetite stimulant.
    It also has anti viral and anti bacterial properties.
    Clinical reports by Dr Belfield, the
    controversial holistic veterinarian, has shown that Vitamin C can greatly assist cancer. (Goldstein 2005)
    As cancer thrives in an acidic environment, I assume Dr Belfield administers the non-acidic form of Vitamin C, Ester C.

    - Cystitis
    is a symptom of bacteria in the bladder and urine, which in turn causes massive inflammation and an alkaline environment.
    Normally, a pet or human is given antibiotics for this problem. However, with a high dose of acidic vitamin C, the alkaline environment of the bladder can be made more acidic which kills the bacteria. For example, a cat can be given 500mg of ascorbic acid, three times a day (or as much as possible without causing diarrhoea). This may prevent the need for antibiotics (Goldstein 1999).
    Apart from there being a variety of vitamin C sources there are also a variety of qualities when choosing a supplement. A good vitamin C will usually contain bioflavanoids, which have a synergistic partnership with vitamin C (Puotinen 1999).

    As natural sources of nutrients are always preferable to their synthetic versions, foods that have good sources of vitamin C are:
    - raw organ meat (for example liver and kidney)
    - meaty bones,
    - green vegetables,
    - kelp,
    - alfalfa,
    - egg yolk,
    - fish,
    - fruit,
    - berries (very high in antioxidants).

    As vitamins are destroyed by heating and processing, they need to be consumed raw.

    Hopefully in the future, Veterinarians will be trained in real nutrition and how it can be our greatest medicine.

    However, whilst commercially, heavily processed food and pharmaceutical companies run our pet’s declining health and the increasing dependence on pharmaceutical drugs, the awareness rests on the individual to educate themselves on what nature has given us.

    Billinghurst, I 1993, ‘Give your dog a bone,’ Warrigal Publishing, Australia.

    Goldstein, M 1999, ‘The Nature of Animal Healing. The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for your Dog and Cat.’ Random House Publishing group.

    Goldstein, R.S. V.M.D. & Goldstein, S.J. 2005, ‘The Goldstein’s Wellness & Longevity Program Natural Care for Cats and Dogs.’ TFH Publications USA.

    Messonnier, S, 2001, ‘Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats’ Three Rivers Press, New York.

    Pitcairn, R. H. & Pitcairn, S. H, 2005, ‘Dr. Pitcairn’s guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.’ Rodale Inc, USA.

    Puotinen, C.J. 1999, ‘Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats.’ Keats Publishing, USA.

    Zucker, M 1999, ‘The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats. Three Rivers Press, New York.

    Internet website references:

    Lapdog limited website by Dr Belfield DVM. Article, ‘Displasia and Vitamin C.’ June/July 1998

    The Online Vet website by Dr Andrew Jones DVM. Article, ‘The Truth about Vitamin C in Dogs and Cats.’

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