Nutrition – Feedstuffs – Key Points
1 – Borage oil is an oil of vegetable origin, very attractive from the point of view of its composition in unsaturated fatty acids. Indeed, it is the only oil containing over 20% of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which directly derives from linoleic acid.
2 – The GLA intake in the diet compensates for a number of enzymatic deficiencies preventing its normal synthesis. Aging is one of the possible causes for disruption in the normal synthesis of GLA.
3 – The GLA intake promotes the production of certain hormones, type 1 prostaglandins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
4 – The relevance of a GLA intake in the diet is especially clear in the case of animals having become sensitive and showing chronic skin disorders.
5 – GLA promotes proper cardiovascular functioning in old animals.
6 – GLA works in synergy with the long-chain unsaturated fatty acids contained in fish oils. It is therefore recommended to combine borage oil with other sources of fatty acids, such as fish oils.
7 – Borage oil is extensively used in human dietetics, as well as in cosmetology.
8 – To prevent borage oil from encouraging phenomena of cell oxidation, it must be accompanied by vitamin E enrichment of the food.
In a dog or cat food, fats (vegetable oils and animal fats) have three major roles:
– to supply energy in a highly digestible and highly concentrated form,
– to provide fatty acids which are indispensable to the metabolism,
– to promote a good palatability level in the food.
Definition And Role Of Essential Fatty Acids (Or Efas)
“Essential fatty acids” are fatty acids which the animal is unable to synthesize himself, and which therefore must imperatively be present in the food. These essential fatty acids have a role of precursors in the synthesis of other fatty acids important for proper working of the body.
Essential fatty acids and their derivatives are called “polyunsaturated” because, from a chemical point of view, they include several double bonds.
A deficiency in EFAs has quite obvious repercussions externally:
– hair becomes dull, dry, brittle, thin,
– the skin is dry, squamous,
– the animal scratches, and becomes more sensitive to skin infections.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are especially important in two respects:
– they integrate into all cell membranes. Therefore they take part in cell protection. For instance, they are involved in limiting water loss at skin level;
– some of them are hormone precursors which play a part in the regulation of inflammatory mechanisms.
Depending on its composition in fatty acids, the diet is therefore likely to influence the composition of tissues and to direct the metabolism toward one type of hormones rather than another. Thanks to the diet, it is possible to act with a view to limiting inflammatory phenomena existing in certain individuals who have become sensitive or suffer from a variety of disorders. The use of borage oil is to be considered from this angle. The special composition of this oil makes it much sought-after today, both in human cosmetology and dietetics and in animal dietetics.
The Specific Nutritional Relevance Of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (Or Gla)
Classically, dogs are considered as able to synthetize all the fatty acids they need from linoleic acid used as the only precursor. The diagram below shows the successive changes undergone by linoleic acid to produce the whole omega 6 family of fatty acids, the one most represented in the diet of land mammals.