Vitamin A Parrot Diet

Function, Amount, and Sources
by Sally Blanchard

- Basic information: Vitamin A is an essential element of a parrot's diet and should be about 30%. High vitamin A vegetables are one of the most important foods you can get your parrot to eat. Although there are fruits that are higher in vitamin A than others, fruits are not generally as good a source as vegetables for this essential nutrient. Vitamin A is essential for the proper function of many aspects involving a parrot's health and well-being including skin and feather condition, the respiratory system, and eyesight. It also is critical to help the body fight infection by keeping the mucous membranes healthy. Vitamin A deficiency is an underlying factor in problems in parrots from chronic infections to feather picking. Vitamin A deficiency was and still is a contributing factor in the early death of parrots particularly those on a total or near total seed diet. Vitamin A is also not stable in high-heated extruded pellet so many pellets lack the vitamin A that parrots need for good health.  Vitamin A deficiency is common in parrots who are on seed-only and pellet-only diets.

- Most green, orange (excluding citrus), and yellow-orange vegetables and fruits are the foods highest in beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A during metabolism.

- A general rule of thumb is ‘the darker the flesh (not the skin) of the vegetable or fruit, the higher the carotene content.’ It is carotene that converts into vitamin A when metabolized by the digestive system. Veggies are very healthy if they are fed raw but are probably a little more digestible if they are steamed or baked. However, overcooking can destroy vitamin content.

- Vitamin A also needs to be fed via fresh foods if a parrot is on a pelleted diet since this essential nutrient is generally unstable in the manufacturing process - especially in regards to extruded diets (the crunchy ones that are processed at a high enough heat to destroy the A vitamin).

- The following are good sources of vitamin A.

- Green Vegetables

Kale, Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, watercress, beet greens, chicory, chard, parsley, green peppers, alfalfa, hot peppers.

- Yellow-orange Vegetables

Sweet potatoes, garnet yams, carrots, butternut squash, hubbard squash, acorn squash, hot peppers, red peppers, pumpkin.

- Fruits With Decent Vitamin A

Peaches, nectarines, apricots, Japanese persimmon, cantaloupe, raw plantain, papaya, sour red cherry.

- Vitamin A is also available from eggs, meat, and many kinds of cheeses in the form of retinol but these should be considered as proteins to avoid feeding too high a level of protein.




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