Vitamins Overview - Nutrition

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Vitamins are organic compounds required for normal metabolic reactions within the body. They are divided into two broad categories:

Fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K
Water-soluble vitamins: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (choline), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin)

Adult animals are able to store fat soluble vitamins in adipose tissue and the liver, and can mobilise these to meet whole body needs in response to dietary deficiencies; because of this it may take weeks to months to develop clinical signs of a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. Young growing animals have limited stores and reserves of the fat soluble vitamins, and are consequently less able to cope with even relatively short term deficiencies.

The water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored by dogs or cats, and a dietary deficiency of these vitamins can result in clinical signs of disease within days to weeks.


National Research Council (NRC). (2006) Vitamins. In Nutrient Requirements for Dogs and Cats. 2006 Washington, DC: National Academies Press p.193-245.

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