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List Of Essential Vitamins For Turtles [& Sources]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many people misinterpret the significance of vitamin and mineral supplements. It’s a common misconception that more is better when it comes to vitamins and minerals. In fact, an excess of some may be downright harmful. What’s needed, rather than megadoses, is a well-rounded diet rich in all the necessary vitamins.

Turtles need a variety of vitamins, but two, like Vitamin A and Vitamin D, stand out as particularly essential. Lacking one of these may have disastrous effects on one’s health. In addition, your turtle needs B1 , C, K, E, vitamins and other minerals for optimal health.

Among the many causes of illness in reptiles kept as pets, poor vitamin ranks high. The diets of captive reptiles are notoriously poor sources of several essential vitamins. This is mainly because it is currently rather challenging to adequately mimic their native food sources with the resources at our disposal.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll explain in more depth the significance of these vitamins, the circumstances in which you may need to provide them in supplementary to your turtle’s regular food, and the sources from which you might get them. So keep on reading!

Do Turtles Need Vitamin A?

Turtles do need vitamin A and vitamin A is the most likely vitamin to supplement your turtle’s meals with.

Eye problems are only one of many potential consequences of not providing enough vitamin A in your turtle’s food. Other problems that may occur are

  • Hypovitaminosis A
  • Ailments of the upper respiratory system
  • Ear infections and abscesses
  • Abnormal development of squamous cells

The first two are the most often encountered symptoms of insufficient vitamin A intake and are also closely linked to one another.

What may occur if there is a vitamin A deficiency?

Eyes that are red, puffy, and swollen are the most noticeable indication of vitamin A deficiency in a turtle.

If this insufficiency isn’t rectified it will gradually become worse, and might lead to enlarged eyes that cannot be opened, or worse still, blindness!

Also, hypovitaminosis A is a common cause of visual issues related to vitamin A deficiency.

Among the symptoms are constant runny nose, infection of the respiratory system, open sores, peeling skin, and blemishes are all symptoms of an ulcerative skin condition, lack of hunger, and abnormalities in the developing female turtle eggs.

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What are good sources of Vitamin A for turtles?

Providing vitamin A-rich natural foods is the best method to guarantee your turtle gets enough in its diet.

Examples of such foods include:

  • Carrots
  • The Sweet Potato
  • Squash, either yellow or winter
  • Vegetables with dark, leafy greens
  • Either a whole fish or some cod liver oil

Is is suggested that turtle owners give their pets a handful of dark green veggies like kale every day.

Furthermore, once weekly servings of cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, or squash are excellent for meeting your turtle’s vitamin A requirements.

You don’t have to feed your turtle entire fish or fish liver oil simply because it’s difficult to provide these foods to your reptile.

Unless absolutely necessary, it is not recommended giving your turtle fish any food too often.

Supplements of Vitamin A for Turtles

You may save the hassle of weekly preparations of squash, sweet potato, and carrot by just taking a vitamin A tablet instead.

Jurassipet Nutrition can be a go-to choice for a turtle’s vitamin A supplement.

What Happens Due To Overdose Of Vitamin A?

Hypervitaminosis may develop if you give your turtle more vitamin A supplements than they need. Too much vitamin A (hypervitaminosis) may have just as many negative effects on your turtle’s health as too little.

Additionally, it might be difficult to discern between hypervitaminosis A and hypovitaminosis A very often, which makes things even more challenging.

Similarities in presenting symptoms exist between the two conditions are eyes that are puffy and red, the shedding of skin, ulcers, constantly runny nose.

How To Provide Right Amount Of Vitamin A?

The thoughts you’re having now are correct. How are you supposed to find out how to give your turtle the perfect dose of vitamin A?!

Beta-carotene has a role in this. Carrots and squash get their bright orange hue from beta-carotene, a kind of carotenoid and pigment. And it becomes vitamin A as well!

In this way, we can protect your turtle from the possible dangers of giving it an excess of vitamin A. Rather, take a supplement containing beta-carotene.

Is Vitamin D Important for Turtles?

Vitamin D3 is the second most crucial vitamin for your turtle. Your turtle’s skin and carapace include pigment cells that synthesize vitamin D3 in response to exposure to UV radiation (whether from the sun or an artificial UV-emitting light bulb).

This vitamin facilitates the utilisation of calcium inside the body, so contributing to the maintenance of healthy skeletons, carapace, epidermis, and other tissues of your turtle.

Your turtle may get metabolic bone disease if it lacks this essential nutrient as calcium is an essential component in bone growth and maintenance.

Unless your turtle is specifically vitamin D3 deficient, it is unlikely that it will benefit from supplementation.

Let your turtle bask in the sun without any protection to make sure it receives enough vitamin D3.

You should let your turtle bask in the sun for 30–40 minutes, twice or thrice a week. It is your responsibility to watch over your turtle while it is sunbathing to make sure it is safe from any nearby predators and that it does not overheat.

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This is about equivalent to spending 8-10 hours in direct sunlight or under a UV light bulb.

When To Give Your Turtle a Vitamin D3 Supplement?

Vitamin D3 supplements may be necessary in certain circumstances while caring for a turtle.

This won’t be required but  if you’re worried about their vitamin D3 levels and can’t let them bask often, say, because it’s too cold or because it’s winter, then taking a vitamin D3 pill every once in a while is OK.

It is often supplied in packs that also include calcium such as Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3.

Other Vitamins Required For Turtles

1. Vitamin B1

Thiamine, often known as vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in the process of metabolic activities.

Sickness develops in turtles due to a lack of vitamin B1. Untreated vitamin B1 shortage may be fatal if left untreated for long enough.

Too much of the uncooked fish and shellfish (such as clams, goldfish, mussels, and shiners) containing the enzyme thiaminase may lead to vitamin B1 deficit in turtles.

In the event that you feel your turtle has a vitamin B1 deficit, you should switch to a feeder fish that does not contain thiaminase.

Livebearers such as guppies and crappies are a safe alternative. They may cost extra, but think of it as insurance for your pet’s wellbeing.

In fact, this is not to say that providing your turtle with a diet that includes fish containing thiaminase would cause illness or death.

There should be a limit on how often these fish are served. Feeding your turtle thiaminase-containing fish as treats is not likely to result in a deficit and will actually improve its diet diversity.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)-fortified turtle pellets, including those found in brands like Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet and ReptoMin, are also beneficial.

2. VITAMIN-C

Herbivorous turtles nearly never suffer from vitamin-C deficiency since the nutrient is abundant in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.

3. VITAMIN-E

Vitamin-E, found in many plants, is an antioxidant that boosts the effects of vitamins A and C. To keep their shells in good condition, turtles need vitamin E. If your turtle lives in harsh water, the vitamin E in their diet will help dissolve the mineral deposits that build up on their shell.

4. VITAMIN-K

Vitamin K is a kind of vitamin that dissolves in fat and plays a part in the process of blood clotting.

This vitamin may be made by intestinal microbes and is also present in plant sources. Green, lush vegetation predominates.

As you can see the requirement of most of these vitamins can be fulfilled by the leafy green vegetables.

So make sure you incorporate proper amount of plant based food in your turtles diet and you should be good to go.

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However, remember that the ratio of plant to animal stuff in the diets of various omnivorous turtle species varies.

In contrast to the ornate box turtle, which consumes only around 10% plant matter and 90% animal matter, the eastern box turtle consumes about 50% plant matter and 50% animal matter.

Dietary requirements for turtles are also affected by their age. The protein content of insects and other animals is increased for young turtles as they mature.

VitaminsSourceSupplements
ACarrots, Winter squash, sweet potatoes, and yellow or winter squash Vegetables with dark, leafy greens as well as whole fish or cod liver oil.Jurassipet Nutrition  
D3In the presence of ultraviolet light, pigment cells that are found in a turtle’s skin and shellZoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3
B1Feeder fishes such as Guppies, Bass Fishes that does not produce thiaminaseTetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks
C, KVegetables, green leafy plants
EBlueberries, sweet potatoes, apple peels, and green leafy vegetablesZilla Extruded Food Pellets

How To Give Additional Vitamin?

Vitamin supplements are often administered in one of two ways:

Vitamins taken orally

These are helpful since they provide enough vitamin intake, but they are not required if a healthy, balanced diet is followed as a starting point.

Vitamin supplements are unnecessary for animals fed a natural browsing diet, however calcium supplements may continue to be required.

Injections Of Vitamins

Only in circumstances when a verified vitamin deficit exists may they be used to provide vitamins.

It is strongly suggested to not give vitamin injections on a regular basis. They are seldom beneficial and often lead to infections at the injecting point.

There are just a handful of cases when the considerably more efficient and safer oral administration route is not an adequate method of therapy.

Injections of vitamin A are useful for treating acute vitamin A deficiency, however, this is seldom necessary.

What Is The Difference Between Vitamin And Minerals?

There is a great deal of confusion among many individuals about the distinction between vitamins and minerals, in particular with regard to the way in which these two types of nutrients work together.

Before being absorbed, several minerals, like calcium, need the involvement of particular vitamins, such as vitamin D.

Vitamins are chemical compounds that aid in maintaining normal biological processes. Vitamins serve as coenzymes, assisting metabolic enzymes in their function.

Diseases of severe deficiency may be brought on by lack of any of the about a dozen main vitamins.

Although only trace amounts are needed, vitamins have a significant impact on reproduction, digestion, the neurological system, and muscle function.

Tissue development and antibody synthesis are two further areas that are influenced by vitamins.

Closing Remarks

As long as turtles consume a healthy and varied diet, it is not necessary to give them any extra vitamin supplements other than those included in their food.

Vitamins A and D3 are the two that are considered to be of the utmost significance for turtles.

It’s possible that vitamin A is the sole nutrient your turtle’s diet is missing, and you’ll need to supplement it with that. And that’s assuming you can’t provide meals high in vitamin A.

Other vitamins such as B1, C,E and K are also important for turtles shell, metabolism and overall health. Therefore, they need to be adequately incorporated to their diets.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.

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