You want your cat to have a healthy immune system. Antioxidants in cat food may be important in improving immune responses in cats. This could be especially critical for young animals that are being vaccinated while their immune system is still developing. Antioxidants can also reverse the decreases in immune-cell function for mature cats.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are important, naturally occurring nutrients that help maintain health by slowing the destructive aging process of cellular molecules. They are found naturally in the body and in plants such as fruits and vegetables. Common antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
How Antioxidants Work
As cells function normally in the body, they produce damaged molecules called free radicals. These free radicals are highly unstable and steal components from other cellular molecules, such as fat, protein, or DNA, thereby spreading the damage.
This damage continues in a chain reaction, and entire cells soon become damaged and die. This process is called peroxidation. Peroxidation is useful because it helps the body destroy cells that have outlived their usefulness, and kills germs and parasites. However, peroxidation, when left unchecked, also destroys or damages healthy cells.
Antioxidants help prevent widespread cellular destruction by willingly donating components to stabilize free radicals. More important, antioxidants return to the surface of the cell to stabilize, rather than damage, other cellular components.
When there are not enough antioxidants to hold peroxidation in check, free radicals begin damaging healthy cells, which can lead to problems. For example, free radical damage to immune cells can lead to an increased risk of infections.
Antioxidants and Kitten Health
Nutritionally supporting the immune system may be especially critical for young animals. In kittens, for example, the immune system is still developing at the time it is being challenged with vaccinations and exposure to disease-causing agents. With the addition of antioxidants, a high-quality kitten diet can aid in the development of a strong immune system to help maintain good health and protect against viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Antioxidants and Aging
Recent research also examined the effect of aging on immune responses. The findings indicate that as cats age, immune cell responses may decline. Including antioxidants in the diet can reverse the age-related decrease in immune cell function.
Antioxidants and Eukanuba®
The benefits of antioxidants are numerous. In addition, new benefits are discovered every day. This is why Eukanuba research is helping to add antioxidants into our cat foods.