Menadione (Vitamin K3) One of the more obscure ingredients found in many pet foods are menadione derivatives - in the form of menadione sodium bisulfate, menadione sodium bisulfite or menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite, often listed as "a source of vitamin K activity" or "vitamin K supplement". Unless otherwise noted, these compounds are summarily referred to as "menadione" in this article to make it easier to read.
What is it? Menadione, also known as vitamin K3, is a synthetic version of vitamin K. The natural occuring compounds are vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone, from plant sources) and Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone, synthesized by bacteria in the digestive tract and absorbed by the body). Technically menadione isn't even a vitamin, but a precursor that is converted in the body after ingestion. Natural vitamin K is fat soluble, while menadione derivatives (pure menadione can not be processed) are water soluble and bypass the natural pathway of utilization by the body.
Why is it added to pet food? Menadione is added as an inexpensive vitamin K supplement in commercial foods. The common statement as to why it is added is "to help with blood clotting", yet it is scientifically proven that the effectivity of menadione on blood clotting is inferior. Even veterinarians will administer vitamin K1 as an antidote to dogs who have for example ingested rat poison, which causes internal bleeding.
Manufacturers who use menadione in their products also like to claim that it is "more stable" than natural vitamin K and has "more nutritional value". Not a single one of them has acknowledged the scientifically proven side effects of this substance.
It is simple to come to a conclusion about the truth in these statements when you consider that
not all pet food companies add menadione to their foods and dogs have eaten these products for years without developing deficiencies the National Research Council was not able to demonstrate a dietary requirement for vitamin K in dogs during tests when natural ingredients were fed and fish meals, liver and green plant supplements (e.g. alfalfa, kelp and other seaweed, nettle leaf, blue-green algae, spirulina) are rich sources of natural vitamin K. Why is it bad? It has been difficult for me to compose this article in English, since I had to translate most of my information from literature originally written in German. My search for relevant, unbiased sources in English was not very successful, with exception of some obscure references and texts that provided some information but do not include all the facts. There were also many articles written by authors who didn't even have the basic knowledge to differentiate between vtiamin K1, K2 and K3.
Here is a list of effects of menadione on the body. It is incomplete, since I was simply not able to translate the more complicated scientific phrases into proper English:
causes cytotoxicity in liver cells causes formation of radicals from enzymes of leucocytes, with the consequence of cytotoxic reactions considerably weakens the immune system possible mutagenic effects damages the natural vitamin K cycle has no effect on coumarin derivatives, which are often present in commercial food due to mold contamination (toxic when ingested) causes hemolytic anemia and hyperbilirubinemia, not just linked to large doses disturbs the level of calcium ions (Ca2+) in the body, which is an important factor fibrinolysis is directly toxic in high doses (vomiting, albuminuria), unlike natural vitamin K builds up in tissue and has been detected in eggs, meat and milk of animals supplemented with menadione derivatives causes irritation of skin and mucous membranes causes allergic reactions and eczema
Sources: Bässler, K.-H. et al. (1997): Vitamin-Lexikon für Ärzte, Apotheker und Ernährungswissenschaftler. ISBN: 3437211404 DGE (2000): Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr. ISBN: 3829571143 Elstner, E. F. (1990): Der Sauerstoff. ISBN: 3411140011 Friedrich, W. (1987): Handbuch der Vitamine. ISBN: 3541120118 Hoehne, Dr. med. vet. Eberhard (1985): Vitamine. ISBN: 3873470284
Things to consider Menadione (e.g. menadione sodium bisulfate, menadione sodium bisulfite or menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite)
has never been researched or specifically approved for long term use, such as in pet food has been banned from use in food and supplements for human use in many European countries due to serious side effects, including permanent damage and deaths FDA has banned synthetic vitamin K from over-the-counter supplements because of its high toxicity vitamins K1 and K2 are metabolized through the lymphatic system, utilizing pancreatic enzymes and bile acids and regulated by the liver. Vitamin K3 is absorbed directly and bypasses the natural pathways and regulators. Comments from various sources (German sources thanks to Christian Schulz) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (translates to German Organization for Nutrition), "Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr“ 2000 The term vitamin K3 for menadione and also its use should be avoided due to considerable side effects, which distinguish the compound from actual vitamin K compounds
Prof. Dr. Wolfram, Technische Universität Munich 12/14/2000 Menadione (vitamin K3) is cheaper because it does not occur naturally. It is also burdened with considerable side effects. It is unsuitable for use in humans.
Hoffmann-La Roche Corporate Health Protection 10/03/2000 The better is always the enemy of the good. Or here: Vitamin K1 is undisputedly better than Vitamin K3.
Hoffmann-La Roche Professional Services 07/30/1999 The background, why Synkavit [a synthetic vitamin K product] was in 1969 removed from the market, was presumably in the realization that vitamin K [here: K1] is practically non toxic in comparison to the K3/K4 versions, and develops a stronger coagulant effect.
Hoffmann-La Roche Professional Services 06/28/1999 SynkavitRoche had hemolytic side effects, as we know today, so that it is assumed that at the time many newborns suffered permanent damage [ed.: there were also deaths]. This prompted the recall of the product in 1967 and instead the harmless Konakion was introduced.
Mark Rosenbloom, MD, MBA, FACEP, Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University This particular toxicity is typically associated with formula-fed infants or those receiving synthetic vitamin K-3 (menadione) injections. Because of its toxicity, menadione is no longer used for treatment of vitamin K deficiency.
Conclusion: In my opinion, Michael von Lüttwitz and Herbert Schulz worded it best in their article "Vitamin K3: eine Geissel im Gesundheitssektor?" [Vitamin K3: a scourge in the health sector?], published in the May 2003 issue of "Der Deutsche Schäferhund" (the professional journal of the Swiss German Shepherd Club):
"When food contains menadione, every owner and breeder has to make the decision for himself whether he can take responsibility for giving his dog a substance that is not permitted in the [human] food sector and led to permanent damage and deaths in humans."
I agree 100% and after presenting the information, as always, I leave the decision up to you
Ok I just switched to chicken soup this past week from eagle holistic so as far as reading if I am reading properly chicken soup is not as good as Eagle because it has this ingredient that can cause problems? Should I switch back to eagle? The only reason I switched to chicken soup was because of all the good stuff on here that I heard about from it. Plus it was cheaper and I figured its cheaper and everyone thinks it is better double bonus! What do you think? Switch back to Eagle? Just needing opinions esp after reading this!
From what I've heard from morranda eagle is one of the best and I think a little better than chicken soup. I think the holistics are the only good ones though. If your feeding eagle pack stick with it:)
Thanks for the info. I feed my dog Natural Balance Ultra Premium and the last ingredient is menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K activity). Now you got me worried. I chose this food because the three out of top four ingreedients contain meat. It is quite expensive food compare to some other ones. Now i will have to do some more research before I decide switching to another brand.
***Edited By: ben on 9/24/2005 1:50:13 AM*** Reason: add
I had just pulled Chicken Soup out of my girls diet. They had way too much itching/scratching when they were eating it. I've been feeding Eagle Pack Natural for a while now and have replaced the Chicken Soup with Eagle Pack Holistic. Both are part of the Eagle Pack Holistic/Natural line. I've been very pleased with the results. Their coats are great and I have regular piles instead of puddles.
I've given up on trying to convince people that menadione and menadione sodium bisulfate are two different things. Because menadione sodium bisulfate is chemically a derivative of the poisonous Menadione, people think that the effects of both of them are the same. This is like people saying that water is poisonous because hydrogen peroxide is a derivative of it.
Anyway let's not just point our fingers at chicken soup for the dog lover's soul for having this ingredient. It's also in the following foods to name a few (unless they've changed their ingredients labels.. most of these foods were listed on the dog food comparison charts at doberdogs). More foods actually have it but I didn't list them all :P
Natural Balance Diamond pet foods Nutro (and Nutro Max) Bil-jac Pro Plan avo-derm Natural Choice Fromm Family Foods Petguard Life's abundance Black Gold Solid Gold (Hund-n-flocken) Nature's Recipe paul newman's dog food brands
MINNIYAR: Will you explain ??? You say: "menadione and menadione sodium bisulfate are two different things. Because menadione sodium bisulfate is chemically a derivative of the poisonous Menadione, people think that the effects of both of them are the same. This is like people saying that water is poisonous because hydrogen peroxide is a derivative of it. "
Pretend I am 8 years old and explain this to me. I am most certainly chemistry challenged!! This point sounds like it makes sense, but I am admittedly such a dope about this kind of stuff that I would be interested in a clarification. Which are you saying is the bad one? Menadione or menadione sodium bisulfate?
Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. Water is H2O, as everyone knows. H2O2 will degrade very easily into water when exposed to the air and to sunlight.. which is why the bottlesare closed. Amazing the difference the addition of a single molecule of oxygen to one H2O makes. This is the way chemical compounds work.
The chemical composition of Menadione is wayyy too compex for me to put here. But Menadione sodium bisulfate has the addition of sodium bisulfate (I think the structure would be Na2HSO3 but don't quote me on that) and that distinguishes it from the more poisonous version of Menadione alone.
You know, this whole "what to feed your dog" issue is tough. Maybe I shouldn't worry so much, but it is causing me stress!
I have been trying to change my 5 yr old cat's food to Chicken Soup, and so far she isn't thrilled. I am mixing it in slowly though, so maybe she will get to like it. We're still trying. But it just makes me doubt myself and think "Am I going to have to change it again soon?" She's kinda a grump about food and I don't want to be doing this constantly. I just want the stress of changing foods to be worth the benefit she will get from it. You know? So then I hear bad things about what I am switching to, and my head starts to explode.