Now that Suki’s off the commercial I needed some supplements to take care of any nutritional holes in my recipes. The most common were calcium, copper, zinc, B2, B5, B12, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K, selenium, and choline. Supplementing magnesium was also recommended. While that may seem like a lot, it can actually be taken care of with just a few items. My book has a supplement recipe, but it contains artificial vitamins and soy by-product granules. While soy lecithin is technically considered a health food, for the most part we’re a no soy household and my dog is no exception.
So I went into research mode, my main goal being to create a list of real food nutrients that were simple and didn’t require a massive amount of extra work. At first I thought of wheat germ, but struck it out because of its high ratio of phosphorus to calcium. Because the ratio was already unbalanced to begin with, and knowing I would need an animal (and thus high phosphorus) product for B12, I didn’t want to add even more phosphorus. I ended up with powdered kelp, which is packed with nutrition and has a high amount of calcium to phosphorus. 7 grams of whole leaf kelp contain 66 milligrams of calcium and only 30 milligrams of phosphorus. Kelp is thought to help eliminate radicals and heavy metals from the body, as well as reduce the risk of breast cancer, lower LDL cholesterol, and lower blood sugar. Kelp adds Vitamin C, B2, B5, B9, zinc, copper, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese to her diet.
The next item on the list was nutritional yeast. I had heard it tastes cheesy, but I’m sorry to report it just tastes like yeast (cue the scene from Baby Mama: “What a lovely yeast ball…” “yes… It’s very… Yeasty…”). Nutritional yeast is deactivated, meaning the yeast bacteria have been heated to kill them. It won’t act like regular bread yeast and foam/rise when water is added. Nutritional yeast contains nearly all the missing nutrients, and while it doesn’t contain any calcium it also doesn’t contain phosphorus so at least it’s a blank slate there. Some nutritional yeasts are fortified with B12, but not all are so I’m not counting on it as a source of B12. Nutritional yeast adds magnesium, copper, manganese, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and zinc to her diet.
For B12 I went with liver. 28 grams, or 1 ounce, of beef liver contains 388% of a human’s dietary needs for B12 (the same amount of chicken liver contains (99%). Clams are also an excellent source of B12, with 28 grams containing 461% of a human’s dietary needs. Liver is much easier and cheaper to find though, and is plenty good enough. To shake things up though it wouldn’t hurt to substitute in some clams every now and then. I mix and match the species that Suki’s liver comes from depending on what my grocery store has stocked at the time. I cook it up plain in a non-stick skillet, dice it into tiny pieces, and mix 1 tablespoon into a day’s worth of food. Liver adds vitamin C, B12, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium to her diet. According to Livestrong.com beef liver is also high in choline.
To balance out the phosphorus:calcium ratio I use eggshell powder. Eggshells are a great way to obtain calcium from a natural source as opposed to a synthetic one, and by doing so you also divert what is normally a waste product away from the garbage bin. Any time I cook an egg I carefully rinse the shell and save it in the fridge until I have about a carton’s worth, then I bake them at 300° Fahrenheit for roughly 5 minutes before grinding them into powder. When using a blender to grind eggshells be very, very careful not to breathe the powder in and keep your pets out of the kitchen while you make the powder. It’s fine to eat, but you don’t want to be breathing it into your lungs. Wearing a dust mask would be ideal, but I’ve also just held my breath while transferring the powder from the blender to a storage container.
The final item on the list is cod liver oil, which is packed with vitamin D. It also contains high levels of vitamin A.
So just to summarize, I needed to take care of the lacking nutrients calcium, copper, zinc, B2, B5, B12, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K, selenium, choline, and magnesium. Kelp powder, nutritional yeast, liver, and cod liver oil together add calcium, copper, zinc, B2, B5, B12, vitamin D, vitamin K, selenium, choline, and magnesium. Additional nutrients are vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, manganese, B1, B3, B6, B9, and phosphorus.