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There is Butter in this Dog Food… What?

written by Chelsea Kent with Jacqueline Hill

cute puppy

The new Answers Pet Foods formulas contain butter. Answers makes some of our very favorite diets for dogs and they tend to be on the cutting edge of new techniques in processing and balancing the diet.

The way the nutrition, food manufacturing and scientific communities rule for and then against different foods seems to happen so fast it can give you whiplash.  First everything should be whole grain, and then it needed to be grain-free.  Things used to tout themselves as fat-free, and now we know that it’s sugar and starch that mammals convert to fat. Suddenly it’s the dry, butter-less whole wheat toast we’ve been responsibly confining ourselves to that has the real evil in it, and the new go-to snack for health is high-fat low glycemic load. . . and who needs these rice cakes anymore?

People have felt guilty and conflicted for decades about eating butter, and last month it was on the cover of TIME magazine, as a health food!  Every time “they” (the nutrition gods?) make a ruling that gives us back a favorite traditional food I feel like a mouse approaching a piece of cheese on a trap.  Is it really ok? If I add butter to this sweet potato, is a gigantic invisible arm going to snap shut on me?  Are the fat police going to cart me away?

We are all experiencing some completely understandable level of skepticism and trepidation towards the whole nutrition and health field lately.  But, I am here to help spread the good news. Yes, it is really ok! Butter is back to stay.

Super Mutt

Yay!!! Butter is here to stay!

The word “mammal” basically means milk-drinker, and although we humans have engineered some diabolical processing techniques (like pasteurization) to make many dairy products horribly unhealthy, it seems logical that unprocessed dairy contains nutrients that are really really good for mammals across the board. 

Here is the short-list of why we like nutrients in butter (especially grass-fed) in particular:

  • It  has a balanced ratio of omega fats
  • It lowers the glycemic load of foods it is added to, helping to balance blood sugar levels
  • It increases feelings of feeling satisfied by food, even if the portion size is smaller
  • The saturated fats in butter support healthy energy production in cells without dangerous reactive oxygen species that unsaturated oils create as a by-product.
  • Carotene/Vitamin A
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) for fat-loss, reduced belly fat, and tumor suppression.
  • And, the really cool thing is vitamin K2, so…

WHY BUTTER? Well, mainly Vitamin K2!
What exactly is that and why do I want it???

Here is all you could ever want to know about Vitamin K

Vitamin K2 occurs in the butterfat, organs and fat of animals consuming rapidly growing green grass, and also in certain sea foods such as fish eggs. K2 is produced by animal tissues, including the mammary glands, from vitamin K1 growing green plants. K2 is important for the utilization of minerals, protects against tooth decay, supports growth and development, is involved in normal reproduction, protects against calcification of the arteries, and is a major component of the brain. Vitamin K2 works synergistically with the two other fat-soluble activators, vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D signal to the cells to produce certain proteins and vitamin K then activates these proteins.

The K vitamins are likely to go down in history as the most misunderstood group of vitamins of the twentieth century. There are two natural forms of vitamin K: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, is found in the green tissues of plants, tightly embedded within the membrane of the photosynthesizing organelle called the chloroplast. When animals consume vitamin K1 their tissues convert part of it into vitamin K2, which fulfills a host of physiological functions in the animal that we are only now beginning to understand. The mammary glands appear to be especially efficient at making this conversion, presumably because vitamin K2 is essential for the growing infant.

cute puppy

Kiss me.

Although both K vitamins were discovered and characterized over the course of the 1930s, two fundamental misunderstandings about these vitamins persisted for over sixty years: the medical and nutritional communities considered blood clotting to be their only role in the body, and considered vitamins K1 and K2 simply to be different forms of the same vitamin. The first vitamin K-dependent protein relating to skeletal metabolism was not discovered until 1978. It was not until 1997, nearly twenty years later, that the recognition that vitamin K was “not just for clotting anymore” broke out of the confines of the fundamental vitamin K research community.

Since the amount of vitamin K1 in typical diets is ten times greater than that of vitamin K2 researchers have tended to dismiss the contribution of K2 to nutritional status as insignificant. Yet over the last few years, a growing body of research is demonstrating that these two substances are not simply different forms of the same vitamin, but are better seen as two different vitamins: whereas K1 is preferentially used by the liver to activate blood clotting proteins, K2 is preferentially used by the other tissues to place calcium where it belongs, in the bones and teeth, and keep it out of where it does not belong, in the soft tissues. Acknowledging this research, the United States Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with researchers from Tufts University, finally determined the vitamin K2 contents of foods in the U.S. diet for the first time in 2006.

Vitamin K2 is the substance that makes the vitamin A- and vitamin D-dependent proteins come to life. While vitamins A and D act as signaling molecules, telling cells to make certain proteins, vitamin K2 activates these proteins by conferring upon them the physical ability to bind calcium. In some cases these proteins directly coordinate the movement or organization of calcium themselves; in other cases the calcium acts as a glue to hold the protein in a certain shape. In all such cases, the proteins are only functional once they have been activated by vitamin K.

The brain contains one of the highest concentrations of vitamin K2 in the body; only the pancreas, salivary glands, and the cartilaginous tissue of the sternum contain more. When male Wistar rats consume vitamin K1 alone, 98 percent of the vitamin K in their brains exists as K2, demonstrating the overwhelming preference of the nervous system for this form. The K2 contents of these four tissues remain remarkably high on a vitamin K-deficient diet, suggesting either that the vitamin is so essential to their function that they have developed a highly efficient means of preserving it, or that it plays a unique role in these tissues that does not require as high a rate of turnover as is required by the roles it plays in most other tissues.

An analysis of three autopsies showed that vitamin K2 makes up between 70 and 93 percent of the vitamin K in the human brain. It is not clear why humans exhibit greater variation in this percentage than rats, although it could be that we convert K1 less efficiently and are therefore more dependent on dietary K2.

Wise Old Dog prescribes butter every day to keep the doctor away.

Wise Old Dog prescribes butter every day to keep the doctor away.

High concentration of vitamin K2 exists in the salivary glands and the pancreas. These organs exhibit an overwhelming preference for K2 over K1 and retain high amounts of the vitamin even when animals consume a vitamin K-deficient diet. The high presence of the vitamin in both of these organs suggests a role in activating digestive enzymes, although its apparent role in the regulation of blood sugar could explain its presence in the pancreas. The testes of male rats also exhibit a high preference for and retention of vitamin K2, and human sperm possess a vitamin K-dependent protein with an unknown function. The kidneys likewise accumulate large amounts of vitamin K2 and secrete vitamin K-dependent proteins that inhibit the formation of calcium salts. Patients with kidney stones secrete this protein in its inactive form, which is between four and twenty times less effective than its active form at inhibiting the growth of calcium oxalate crystals, suggesting that vitamin K2 deficiency is a major cause of kidney stones.

A number of cell experiments have shown that vitamin K2 has powerful anti-carcinogenic properties that may make it useful in preventing or treating cancer.

Researchers have recently discovered a whole new class of vitamin K-dependent proteins called transmembrane Gla (TMG) proteins. Their functions are unknown.

The K vitamins perform all of their well understood roles in the part of the cell responsible for the modification of proteins. Only a portion of the vitamin K within a cell exists in this area, however. Even more exists in the inner membrane of the mitochondria where the cell produces its energy. The greatest concentration exists in the nucleus, which possesses a receptor for vitamin K that may be involved in regulating the expression of genes.

The ability to convert K1 to K2 varies widely between species and breeds of animals.

K3 (**Menadione. See below) is the synthetic version of Vitamin K and not considered a safe way to provide vitamin K.

Why OUR butter????

Vitamin K2 is also produced by fermentation, which Answers Pet Food also uses in their foods, but has a different configuration than the vitamin K2 found in the butter. So by adding the butter AND fermentation from Kombucha we are providing all natural forms of the vitamin.

Our butter is pure fat from free-roaming, anti-biotic/hormone/vaccine free cows grazing on rapidly growing grass. The combination of climate, fertility and species produces rapidly growing specialized forage ensuring optimal levels of Vitamin K2 are produced in our milks.

Answers butter is also casein (so no protein) and lactose free.

More on Synthetic Vitamin K:
** Menadione = synthetic Vitamin K3. Synthetic Vitamin K3 is also commonly listed as Menadione Sodium Bisulfite on pet food labels.  Controversially it contributes to toxic reactions in liver cells, weakens the immune system, induces allergic reactions and causes the abnormal break-down of red blood cells. .
MSDS reports state it is a grade 3 carcinogen and “causes damage to the following organs: kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes”

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