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Claiming nature’s defense with beta-carotene

The health benefits of beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and immune modulator. It is also a provitamin A in dogs. Beta-Carotene modulates both cellular and humoral immune responses. For example, beta-carotene increased plasma antibody concentration and enhanced the delayed-type hypersensitivity response in dogs.

Known functionality of beta-carotene:

  • Quenches singlet oxygen
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Protects against oxidative damage
  • Acts in synergy with vitamin E and C
  • Enhances certain immune responses
  • Is a precursor of vitamin A (provitamin A) in dogs

While commercial pet foods may contain sufficient amounts of vitamin A, little attention has been given to dietary beta-carotene content. However, beta-carotene plays a significant endogenous antioxidative (cell protective) role in canine and feline nutrition.  Endogenous cellular antioxidants support general good health and help to manage diseases connected with the aging process.  There is also some evidence indicating beta-carotene restores immune responses in older dogs when compared with age-matched controls and younger counterparts.

Body absorption of beta-carotene is essential for its health benefits.  Feeding studies have clearly demonstrated that dietary beta-carotene supplementation significantly increases plasma beta-carotene concentration in dogs and cats.

One major challenge for pet food formulators is the instability of beta-carotene during processing and storage of the pet food. Although the standard DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% beadlet and ßeta-Carotene 1% CWS/M (cold water soluble) forms are high quality sources of beta-carotene; ßeta-Carotene 10% P is specifically engineered to be more stable during the processing and storage of dry extruded pet foods and snacks.  This more stable form helps pet product brand owners to make quantitative label claims, expected of super-premium pet food brands.

Superior stability with DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% P

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DSM’s cross-linked beadlet technology protects sensitive vitamins and carotenoids during pet food processing and storage, as is demonstrated in a trial (DSM Stability study VFP23072). DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% P was compared to two regular beadlet forms of beta-carotene.  They were added in a vitamin premix that was included in a typical extruded dry pet food. The pet food was stored at 25°C for 12 months.

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The results clearly show that DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% P has superior stability. 

It is important to note that typically the minimum content of a nutrient needs to be stated in the Guaranteed Analysis of a pet product if a health claim is made about the nutrient.

Bioavailability of DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% P

The cross-linked beadlet technology used in DSM Carotenoids ßeta-Carotene 10% P is engineered to protect the beta-carotene through the rigors of the high temperature and pressure; However, bioavailability of the nutrient is of equal importance to stability. A DSM study shows that it is also suitably bioavailable in dogs, even showing higher plasma levels over the 24-hour period post oral application compared to an unprotected crystalline form of beta-carotene. 

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Consumer studies support leveraging beta-carotene and immune function claims on pet food and functional snacks

From a 2011 DSM commissioned MetrixLab U.S. consumer study, 64% of pet parents strongly agreed “Beta-carotene is a nutrient known to support healthy immune function.” while 60% strongly agreed “Beta-carotene supports a robust immune system.”.  This is compelling evidence that pet foods and snacks containing beta-carotene provide pet parents who purchase pet nutritional products with the reason to believe in immune function claims.

Although referring to consumer behavior in general, industry analysts predict that consumer demand will drive the need for products that not only “Promote solutions to help consumers age well.” but also “Help consumers support their immune system” (as reported by Mintel in their “The Future of Vitamins and Supplements 2019” report).

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With consumers seeking to identify substantiated claims through the transparency trend, beta-carotene provides pet food brand owners with a “trusted micro-nutrient” to meet both the growing demand for products that claim both support for long-term health and the immune system.

References available on request.