Vitamin A

I would be extremely cautious about giving any eclectus parrot a capsule of vitamin A that is composed of man-made components. If an eclectus needs vitamin A, it should be given in its natural beta carotene form in the foods provided to the bird.

There are sufficient vegetables that have a high vitamin A content that the bird can obtain what it needs and flush the rest. With man-made Vitamin A, the bird is forced to keep the excess Vitamin A in its body, stored in the liver.

We do not know that man-made Vitamin A capsules contain all the chemical nutrients that the bird needs. We do know that the fresh foods do contain what the bird needs, can use and then can flush the rest from its system.

Because in the early days, (seventies), Rosemary Low wrote about the need for vitamin A in eclectus parrots, every other veterinarian and breeder is still harping on that old message. In the seventies the British fed an extremely poor diet to eclectus…as witnessed by the fact the female chicks exited the nest with orange feathers instead of red. It was so prevalent that the British thought that it was natural for young eclectus females to be orange. Now they and we know better. When eclectus do not have access to sufficient vitamins and minerals during the feather development stage, they cannot make red feathers.

The most recent developments in regard to adding man-made vitamins to parrot foods is that toxicity is of great concern. Harrison has written it up in the vet journals.

Eclectus parrots, in my opinion, are more sensitive to dietary mistakes on the part of the managing person than, say, amazons or grays. I would always recommend that an eclectus parrot be given natural foods without added vitamins UNLESS the bird had a complete physical work up, including all the blood panels, and then a recommendation for additional vitamins was made on the basis of the results of the blood panels.

I would never give an eclectus parrot man-made vitamins on the basis of just a physical exam without any diagnostic work ups. Vitamin A can even be toxic for humans…causes itching and skin rashes.

In addition, plucking in eclectus can be caused by disease, emotional distress, physical pain, as in sore or inflamed feet, toenails cut too short, etc. heart problems. So, vitamin A may not be the answer to a plucking problem. Laurella Desborough Eclectus Parrot breeder

Here’s a list of some foods and their Vit A content. (besides greens) IU/100 g serving: chili peppers 21,600 apricots, dried 10,900 mangoes 4,800 hubbard squash 4,300 cantaloupe 3,400 apricots 2,700 broccoli 2,500

If your birds are picky eaters, a good form of supplementation might be palm oil. (Hornbecks carries red palm oil) According to a nutrition book I have here, “The Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements” by Michael Murray, ND, there are three primary sources of carotenes on the market… of these three palm oil carotenes are the best form. Provide the best anti-oxidant protection, and are absorbed better. Just make sure you get one that is not partially hydrogenated.

Now this is from a human nutrition book, so I don’t know if it would apply to birds or not, but it goes on to say, “Vitamin E and zinc are particularly important to the proper function of Vit A. A deficiency of zinc, vitamin C, protein, or thyroid hormone impairs the conversion of pro-vitamin A carotenes to vitamin A.” Pat B

Only in the last year did I learn how important fresh, raw food is for people and animals. Cooking food or freezing food destroys some or all of the enzymes and changes the vitamins and minerals. In the wild, birds never consume cooked foods. For the hard veggies like gourd squashes, carrots, sweet potato, most birds will eat them raw with no problem. What I do for my smaller birds is to slice it thin, so it’s easier for them to bite into. But once they know it’s good, they learn to dig in even when given half of a very small acorn squash.

A few gourd squashes I have fed include: pumpkin spaghetti squash kobacha (the seeds of this one are my tiels favorite) turbin acorn butternut

In my area, I can usually find a wider selection of gourd squash at a health food store. Leanne

Vitamin E

If you plan to later use a powdered vitamin E try to use a product that contains natural E. The labeling can give a clue to distinguish between natural and synthetic forms. If the ingredient is prefixed with a d-, this would be natural. If it is prefixed with either a dl- OR an l- this is a synthetic (chemical) component. EX: d-alpha-tocopherol = natural E dl-alfa-tocopherol = synthetic E

The natural form is identical to what the body makes and what is found in food, thus the body absorbs it better, and it stays in the system longer. Susanne

Here’s a great page showing what Vitamin E deficiency can cause: C. Bacon

Vitamin D Vitamin D is one of the fat soluable vitamins. It is stored in the liver. Sources of vitamin D, in addition to sunlight, are egg-yolks, fish liver oil, and dark leafy greens.

Caution must be taken supplementing with vitamin D because it is considered by some authorities to be potentially the most toxic vitamin.

Vitamin D functions in the uptake of calcium and helps to regulate bone formation. If it is low, blood levels of calcium and phosphorus decrease, so the minerals are pulled from the bones.

Excess doses for a month or more cause the following symptoms: thirst, diarrhea, nausea, weakness, excess levels of calcium and phosporus in the blood and urine, and abnormal calcification of the soft tissues and body organs. Excess doses of vitamin D can also be obtained through lengthy skin exposure prior to protection through pigmentation. That isn’t a problem with fur and feathered creatures, though. gloria

So are vitamin D and D3 the same? Someone please answer and take pity on those of us who don’t know our vitamins from our minerals. Yes or no would be sufficient!

Here’s a little info. from one on my Avian Med books pertaining to Vit. D and avians.

….There are 2 predominant forms of vitamin D: ergo-calciferous (vitamin D2), a plant derivative, and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), produced exclusively in the birds body. Vitamin D3 is considered to be 30-40 times more potent than vitamin D2 as a source of D activity. Therefore plant sources of vitamin D are essentially disregarded when providing vitamin D to birds. Vitamin D3 levels are quantified in the International Chick Units (ICU) as a way to differentiate it from vitamin D2 or the total of vitamin D. Unlike most other vitamins, the active form of vitamin D3 can be synthesized in the body by the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin and sebaceous secretions by irradiating with ultraviolet rays. Early studies in poultry showed that sufficient Vitamin D3 could be formed to prevent rickets in growing chickens and to maximize growth with 11 to 45 minutes of sunshine (not filtered by glass) each day.

The cholecalciferol formed in the skin is then transported by the blood to the liver, where it is hydroxylated by a liver microsomal enzyme (to a lesser extent, the reaction may also occur in the avian kidneys). This new compound is then transported to the kidney, where it is again hydroxylated to the metabolically active form. When the renal levels of calcium and phosphorus are normal and the parathyroid hormone (PTH) is being secreted, an inactive form is produced. Unlike other vitamins, the active metabolite actually acts as a hormone in the body being transported to the intestines, bones and other target organs where it exerts its role in the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.

The most important physiologic role of vitamin D is the homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. There is also evidence that the active form has additional roles, eg, induction of cell differentiation and immune system regulation.

The active metabolite also acts in the body in a manner similar to a steroid hormone, acting on a specific receptor protein in the target organ. The vitamin D receptor is located in the nucleus of the intestinal mucosal epithelial cells…..