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Calcium with D3 issue

This is a discussion on Calcium with D3 issue within the General Discussion & News from Members forums, part of the General Topics category; I came upon an interesting bit of news while browsing through the crested gecko forum. A poster warned against a ...

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Old 29th December 2012   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Calcium with D3 issue

I came upon an interesting bit of news while browsing through the crested gecko forum. A poster warned against a popular calcium with d3 supplement that some on this forum use (myself included).

Quote:
You may want to amend that statement after you read my post lol

The following is an informational warning on calcium products which include D3.

Whatever you do DO NOT USE "REPCAL Calcium with Vitamin D3 (Phosphorous Free) Ultrafine powder". This is an extremely dangerous product, I have a photocopy of a letter that the FDA sent to my Vet warning him about the potential dangers of a product that had the exact same concentrations of D3 and calcium as the RepCal product I listed above. When used as directed (aka a 0.330 gram 5 week old cricket gets dusted with the RepCal supplement, and an average of 0.045g of supplement gets added in the process of dusting), the cricket's vitamin D3 content becomes 55 times the safe limit of Vit D3!!! The recommended safe limit of Vit D3 is 5,000 IU/kg of food (dry weight). My vet has done plenty of lizard, gecko, and chameleon Necropsies in which it was determined the cause of death was massive over-calcification of the soft tissues, so this isn't "just talk". My vet's website (Dr. Mark Burgess) with all his info available = Southwest Animal Hospital

Here are pictures of the letter from the FDA, the product name has been blacked out for liability reasons, but you can go look at the REPCAL label and see that the nutritional content of the supplement discussed in the letter matches that of the REPCAL product.
Original Thread with picture: CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D3 -What you need to know. - Page 3

Thoughts? Rep-Cal is commonly recommended here, for example, here.
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Old 29th December 2012   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

Thank you for reposting this Jasper. I had my doubts, so I checked the amounts of vitamin D3 in some popular supplements:

ExoTerra Calcium+D3 has 14,740 IU/pound
ZooMed Repti-Calcium has 10,390 IU (doesn't say per what unit)
Rep-Cal has 400,000 IU/kg

Wow, that's a huge difference. I don't know enough about nutrition to know "how much is too much", but it's really odd that there would be such a huge difference. The Rep-Cal has more than 10 times higher concentration vitamin D than the other two.
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Old 30th December 2012   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

My leopard gecko's eaten dusted crickets and mealworms for 6 years using this stuff. I've had no issues, but then again I don't really follow the serving size and just dust his food lightly.
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Old 30th December 2012   #4 (permalink)
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Isn't this just an issue of overdosing on calcium? You aren't supposed to dust every feeding, and some say that it isn't necessary to use calcium with d3 when using UVB lighting, but rather safer to use just calcium. I doubt this information because it doesn't reference dosing, and some use too much calcium in the first place.

I don't see how this is a problem if you are using calcium correctly. The risks of overusing calcium supplements is well known. I'm on the fence here. Is this only relevant to the repcal brand? I use a mix of supplements of multiple brands, repcal being one of them. I wonder if repcal is safer for certain species and environments - I'd imagine the results on the animal is far different when comparing UVB use versus those who don't in combination with the repcal brand.
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Old 30th December 2012   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

That is exactly one of the issues that comes up when discussing the validity of such caution regarding RepCal, calcium with D3. Rep Cal is used by many herpers, here included, and many of them report success, despite the huge D3 values being reported. As to why this may be the case, aschnell says this in response to a seasoned breeder:

Quote:
"you clearly have some passion about this subject. I dont doubt that the letter writer felt what was being said was helpful to a particular situation and as a general advisory. But hopefully you can try to be open to hear what others have to say. RepCal has been used for a very long time by a great many people with very good success. I've used it for over ten years. My chameleons live long healthy lives. My frogs are fine. If you do a little searching on this forum, you'll find many others also use it with success."

Can you define "success" with anything but personal experience and opinion though? A gradual calcification of the soft tissues in a reptile wouldn't necessarily cause any outward signs of illness. Ask a Vet, they'll tell you it's fairly difficult to tell if an animal is getting too much calcium without somewhat extensive testing. Often times reptiles die form over-calcification of the soft tissue before an owner notices any signs of illness. In your case I don't think you're using RepCal with D3 often enough to cause any major problems (which is great!), but then again without doing the math I have no idea.
I, myself will err on the side of caution and switch to a different brand. Most newts and salamanders possess nocturnal behaviors and tend to hide when the sun is the strongest. Because of this, D3 intake is much lower than some of the diurnal, basking lizards for example. In addition to that, calcium requirements are also lower for caudates in comparison to reptiles, which is all the more reason for me to stay away.
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Old 30th December 2012   #6 (permalink)
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Ah, immediate response before I finished editing, ha. I have a feeling that it has to do with environment and UVB usage, and not everybody uses UVB on reptiles. There are many factors to consider other than just the amount of D3, which I can see as dangerous if it is overused in combination with a strong UVB light.
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Old 30th December 2012   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

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Originally Posted by esn View Post
Isn't this just an issue of overdosing on calcium? You aren't supposed to dust every feeding, and some say that it isn't necessary to use calcium with d3 when using UVB lighting, but rather safer to use just calcium. I doubt this information because it doesn't reference dosing, and some use too much calcium in the first place.

I don't see how this is a problem if you are using calcium correctly. The risks of overusing calcium supplements is well known. I'm on the fence here. Is this only relevant to the repcal brand? I use a mix of supplements of multiple brands, repcal being one of them. I wonder if repcal is safer for certain species and environments - I'd imagine the results on the animal is far different when comparing UVB use versus those who don't in combination with the repcal brand.
The issues go hand-in-hand, but the amount of vitamin D3 per dose of calcium, no matter the frequency, is still at an extremely elevated level when compared to the recommended value (which is probably just a safe bet, taking into consideration that certain individuals, especially among different species, may have different threshold and required values).

I'm not quite sure whether he deduced it was the RepCal brand from the censored letter, or that it was a different brand but had identical values as the RepCal one, though I would guess the former.

Edit: I'm lagging here!!!
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Old 30th December 2012   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

This does not surprise me. It is frequently assumed that vitamins are always good and can not be overdosed on, but this is simply not the case. To make matters worse, companies attempt to compete with each other by putting more and more vitamins into their supplements, trying to make their product seem 'healthier'. Hypervitaminosis is a problem with human vitamin supplements too (especially vitamin E), particularly with fat soluble ones which are not easily excreted if there is an excess.

I am glad you brought this to my attention. After checking, I discovered that the mineral powder I have been using does have D3 in it. Even if it does not have the same amount of D3 as REPCAL, it most likely contains too much. The amount of a vitamin that they decide is 'safe', is not always accurate. In the case of water soluble vitamins, most of the vitamin supplement is excreted and never used, as an organism can only use so much at a time, and any excess will only waste energy to excrete it. But fat soluble vitamins, like D3, can build up in fat tissues until they reach dangerous levels, and can only be excreted slowly via defecation. This is especially true of vitamin D3 which must be converted into a form that the body can use, and this process can only go so fast. I doubt caudates need much in their diet anyway (especially if they are fed mammalian meat), depending on the species and what they are fed.

Also, as jasper408 said, "the issues go hand-in-hand". Vitamin D3, which eventually gets converted into the hormone calcitriol, regulates bone growth. If only calcium is present, it will easily be excreted in urine.

I will dust food lighter from now on, or find a mineral powder without it. But ideally vitamins are obtained through healthy foods, and in the case of D3, UV exposure, where the body is capable of regulating it most efficiently. There is really no substitute for a varied and balanced diet, unless there is no other option.

Last edited by Lugubris; 30th December 2012 at 10:40.
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Old 30th December 2012   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

I wonder what 400,000 IU/kg is when represented as a light dusting on an invertebrate, and I suppose the next question is how does that compare with the daily recommended amount for an amphibian? I don't think caudates synthesise their own D3 or at least if they do their lifestyle must be restrictive to the process.

It doesn't suprise me that vets see elevated calcium levels in pet reptiles. If the pet shop tells you to feed dusted crickets and mealworms that's what you'll do. And one man's dusting is another man's caking. I've seen YouTube videos of keepers tong feeding crickets to herps with small piles of powder supplement on top.

I don't think we get RepCal over here, or at least I've never seen it for sale. It would be interesting to hear how they arrived at a much higher D3 value than other brands. Don't they make supplements that are designed to be mixed 50/50 with other vitamin powders rather than on their own?
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Old 30th December 2012   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

By doing a google search of "vitamin d synthesis in amphibians" (minus quotes) I found a scientific article (the first result) that seems to suggest that caudates do indeed synthesize vitamin D.

Interestingly it also states that excessive UVB exposure can be detrimental, and has been blamed as a cause of decreasing amphibian populations.

It also seems that an acceptable level of UVB exposure or D3 in the diet has not yet been established for amphibians, at least as of the articles publishing date in 2009.
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Old 30th December 2012   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

There is no need for D3, it could do more harm then good. Buy pure Calciumcarbonaat for Caudates.
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Old 30th December 2012   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

So for caudates, how would you dust their food with the Rep-Cal without it getting diluted and washed away by water?
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Old 30th December 2012   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

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So for caudates, how would you dust their food with the Rep-Cal without it getting diluted and washed away by water?
For full-terrestrial caudates, there is no problem with washing off.

For aquatic caudates, there are several reasons why dusting isn't very relevant. One, they may absorb calcium via skin, so there is less need to worry about supplementation. Two, the food that most needs calcium supplementation is crickets (also mealworms and waxworms). These are not commonly fed to aquatic species. Three, earthworms usually have a good calciumhosphorus ratio, and worms are the more commonly used food for aquatic species.
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Old 31st December 2012   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen Spobeck View Post
There is no need for D3, it could do more harm then good. Buy pure Calciumcarbonaat for Caudates.
I was unsure of the advantages of calcium carbonate over other sources of calcium at first, but the scientific article I read seems to back this up: "Amphibians also uniquely store calcium as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in specialized lymphatic sacs, and also as a layer below the skin in both adults and larvae (Bentley, 1984; Stiffler, 1993)"

I have never seen pure Calcium Carbonate for sale at any pet stores near me, probably will have to find it online. For those who are interested, the article I read contains a lot of interesting information about the relationships between Vitamin D3 and UV light exposure for amphibians, and is available for free. Here is the necessary info to find it:

"Ultraviolet radiation and Vitamin D3 in amphibian health, behaviour, diet and conservation"
R.E. Antwis, R.K. Brown
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A : Molecular & Integrative Physiology

I attempted to find more research on the subject by doing a database search through my university, but was unable to find anything else. There seems to be a scarcity of information on this subject.
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Old 31st December 2012   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lugubris View Post
By doing a google search of "vitamin d synthesis in amphibians" (minus quotes) I found a scientific article (the first result) that seems to suggest that caudates do indeed synthesize vitamin D.
Without exposure to UV-B vitamin D synthesis is not possible. The fossorial, nocturnal and aquatic nature of caudates must result in a reliance on dietary vitamin D. That's not to say they are not capable, and I'm sure some species will receive UV-B exposure in shallow water during the breeding season, but for the most part caudates will receive little to no UV-B exposure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lugubris View Post
It also seems that an acceptable level of UVB exposure or D3 in the diet has not yet been established for amphibians, at least as of the articles publishing date in 2009.
I saw one paper that recommended 330 IU Vitamin D3 daily for a frog although it didn't say which species or how they'd reached that conclusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen Spobeck
There is no need for D3, it could do more harm then good. Buy pure Calciumcarbonaat for Caudates.
Without vitamin D3 the animal couldn't process the calcium. Do you mean there's no need to supplement?

I think generally we caudate keepers have an easy time compared to some amphibian hobbyists. Our animals can be trained to eat formulated pellets and high nutrient prey such as earthworms and slugs. Compared with dart frog keepers who need to juggle UV-B lighting and nutrient poor diets it's very easy. A caudate that is fed a staple of worms or high quality pellets is unlikely to suffer from NMBD.
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Old 31st December 2012   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Calcium with D3 issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lugubris View Post
By doing a google search of "vitamin d synthesis in amphibians" (minus quotes) I found a scientific article (the first result) that seems to suggest that caudates do indeed synthesize vitamin D.

Interestingly it also states that excessive UVB exposure can be detrimental, and has been blamed as a cause of decreasing amphibian populations.
For those who may be interested, there was a lengthy discussion on this a few years back, with scientific papers sited and the experiences of vetrinarians/others offered:

UV lights in the care of caudates
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