Folks I have touched on this topic many times; here I go again.
I have talked about how feeding tea, regardless if it is dried or brewed, regardless if is black, green or herbal depletes B vitamins from our birds’ systems due to the tannins it contains. In fact, any food high in tannins, such as legumes or any food that acts as a diuretic depletes B vitamins from our birds’ systems. All of these foods should be fed in extreme moderation for this reason alone, even though there are many reasons these foods should be fed in moderation, such as their high pro-inflammatory Omega 6 content, high starch content and more.
You see B vitamins are water-soluble, so it stands to reason that any food that is high in tannins, or acts as a diuretic causing our bird to excrete more urine than normal can and will cause our birds to lose valuable B vitamins that are water-soluble. In fact, any vitamin that is water-soluble is at risk of loss in such a scenario, but B vitamins, especially B12 is crucial for our birds to retain.
B12 is synthesized by the “intrinsic factor” within a living creature’s system, but only if the creature is healthy enough to synthesize it, in abundance. If it is leached out by the very foods that creature is ingesting, such as high cellulose foods (botanically classified vegetables that scour the digestive tract), foods high in tannins and foods considered to be diuretics, then that creature will continually be at a loss for B12.
B12 is essential in the making of healthy red blood cells, the transport of oxygen to each cell and all organs of the body, energy transport, muscle regeneration, proper brain function and a calm demeanor. B12 is one of the most important vitamins in the entire spectrum of vitamins! Foods high in B12 are meal worms, mollusks (serve only slightly steamed, never raw), organic hardboiled eggs. Remember though, B12 is synthesized by the “intrinsic factor” within a living creature, so no matter how many “B12 foods” you feed, if your bird is physically suffering in a way you are not aware of, from stress or any in any other manner, than B12 will not be properly synthesized.
In addition, some are supporting the feeding of silkworms simply because parrots consume a variety of insects in the wild. I do not support the feeding of silkworms and here is why. Silkworms are extremely high in the digestive enzyme “thiaminase.” In fact silkworms were once used as a reliable protein source in Japan (yes, other countries regularly consume insects as their protein sources), but due to the high levels of thiaminase in silkworms Japan’s government began urging their people to stop consuming silkworms because a mass crisis of low B1 levels began occurring nationwide. Thiaminase literally destroys thiamine otherwise known as B1, yet another very important B vitamin our birds require for optimum health.
B1 is essential for converting carbohydrates into glucose, the main monosaccharide our birds utilize for energy! (Birds normally have a much higher blood glucose level than humans do.) Obviously without B1 our birds will suffer a tremendous amount of energy loss, maybe even to the point of insulin resistance leading to a condition that simulates avian diabetes. When in fact they would not really have diabetes, but a lack of B1 in their diet. Foods high in B1 are sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted sesame seeds, crimini mushrooms, flax seed, sprouted lentils, sprouted peas.
B1 is also important for a healthy immune system, fighting stress and healthy brain functions including mental and emotional abilities.
As we can see, B vitamins are crucial in our birds’ lives.
Once again I stress “balance” when planning our birds’ diets. We cannot simply throw a bunch of different ingredients together hoping for a good outcome in the long run. While we may not know what a “total and complete nutritional profile” looks like for any species of exotic bird, we do know what a “balanced” diet looks like based on years and years of nutritional research for both humans and animals. Let’s use that scientific research and knowledge to the benefit of our beloved companion feathered friends!
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