WHAT DO ANTIOXIDANTS DO?
There are numerous health benefits provided by antioxidants—aside from preserving pet food. Antioxidants also protect the body’s cells from damage and strengthen the immune system. Every day, the body is exposed to the destructive effects of free radicals, which are produced when cells are damaged due to the effects of oxidation. These free radicals are unstable and can cause even further cell damage if left unchecked.
This is where antioxidants come into play. Antioxidants slow down damage from free radicals and prevent further cell damage. They allow the immune system to function without interference from free radicals. This protection is important to prevent serious health issues from developing or worsening.
In young animals, antioxidants provide a boost to the developing immune system before vaccination has a chance to be effective. In older animals, oxidative injury to cells in the brain and organs may be slowed by antioxidants, providing a longer, healthier lifespan.
WHERE DO ANTIOXIDANTS COME FROM?
There are two types of antioxidants commonly used in dog foods — natural and synthetic. Natural antioxidants include vitamins C, E, citric acid, and some herbal sources like rosemary. Vitamin C can be taken from common fruits and vegetables like cranberries, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, and more. Natural vitamin E is commonly listed as “mixed tocopherols” on the pet food ingredient list. Citric acids are taken from various citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes.
Cannabinoids as Antioxidants: What Studies Say
Numerous studies have found that the cannabinoids in cannabis – specifically cannabidiol (hemp) – display potent antioxidant properties in a variety of pre-clinical applications.
One of the first studies to document these effects was a study published in 1998, which found that cannabinoids could protect neurons from exposure to toxic levels of glutamate – a neurotransmitter that plays a role in a number of neurodegenerative disorders. The study compared cannabinoids head-to-head with antioxidant vitamins C and E and found cannabidiol to be 30-50% more effective than either of the vitamins. A follow-up trial published in 2000 showed similar results using animal models instead of cell cultures.