Best Bearded Dragons Calcium, Vitamin D3, and Multivitamin Supplements

Reptiles living in captivity, especially those that require UVB light to assimilate calcium, need vitamin D3. Similarly, since most farm-raised feeder insects may not be as nutritious as those in the wild, these pets may end up with calcium and multivitamin deficiencies.

Therefore, it is paramount to provide them with multivitamins, including vitamin D3, calcium, probiotics, and other supplements optimum growth, development, and maintenance.

Why do beardies need supplements?

While in the wild, bearded dragons exercise as they roam around looking for food, enjoy varied diets, plenty of sunlight, and heat in their desert-like natural habitat.

Their skin can make sufficient vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) using the sun’s UVB rays, and they get calcium from food, small vertebrate bones, snail shells, chalky rock dust, and so on.

On the other hand, beardies living in captivity need proper housing (tank, vivarium or terrarium), UVB light, heat source, water, and food. Some of their typical foods are veggies, feeder insects as well as safe fruit treats and safe plants, flowers and herbs. You can also give them commercial diets.

Since artificial UVB isn’t as effective as the sun, these pets are picky eaters, and most farm-raised live foods such as crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, waxworms, silkworms, super worms are low in calcium, these pets are bound to lack suffer from calcium and cholecalciferol deficiencies. Therefore, this reality making their supplementation is inevitable.

However, if you rely on more than 50% bearded dragon commercial diets including pellets, live or dried feeder insects, and so on, do not supplement any multivitamin or calcium these diets will meet your pet’s nutritional needs (Stahl Donoghue 2010).

1. Why is vitamin D3 and calcium are vital

Bearded dragons require both calcium and cholecalciferol for proper skeletal growth, optimum health. A deficiency in this fat-soluble vitamin will result in calcium deficiency since it is vital in the intestinal absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus.

Remember, calcium is essential in bone formation and maintenance, metabolism, and muscle function.  Low blood calcium or hypocalcemia in these reptiles will cause lethargy and muscle twitches before the metabolic bone diseases (MBD) develop. MBD develops when bone calcium resorption occurs.

As the BBC notes, the common symptoms of MBD “include muscle twitching, swollen legs, and fragile bones, which can eventually lead to permanent deformities in the limbs, jaw, spine or tail.”

Finally, according to Dr. Julia Whittington, an exotic veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, “long-term calcium deficiency can also lead to secondary hormonal problems involving the parathyroid glands that help regulate calcium levels.”

2. UVB Rays and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)

Exposure to UVB light helps a bearded dragon’s skin to synthesis vitamin D, whose crucial active metabolite is D3 or cholecalciferol. Therefore, it means that these diurnal reptiles, they need UVB rays to synthesis cholecalciferol.

The sun is the natural source of UVB radiation. However, most since people keep most of their pet reptiles indoors, they have to use artificial UVB radiation sources, which include full spectrum compact fluorescent, mercury vapor lamps, incandescent lamps, hard-quartz fluorescent tube and so on.

As already mentioned, artificial UVBA sources are not very efficient, and they decline with time, a reason why you need a UVB meter to monitor the amount of UVB emission and replace them when it is below the required amounts.  Alternatively, you can follow your vendor’s replacement advice.

Therefore, you need to supplement this vitamin since these pets cannot be able to synthesis enough. However,  giving cholecalciferol alone without UVB light will not be sufficient. You also need a 10-12% UVB ray are covering three-quarters of your bearded dragon terrarium for a photoperiod of about 12-14 hours.

How much of cholecalciferol to supplement will depend on UVB rays availability. For instance, if they go to sunlight, you can reduce supplementation, or if they spend more than 12 hours on the sunshine, you do not need supplementation.

Finally, note that the UVA grow lambs don’t help, and plastic and glass block UVB  and e placing your vivarium near the window will not help. Instead,  you need a terrarium screen cover that allows UVB penetration.

3. Best calcium supplements with and without vitamin D3

If you need calcium that has vitamin D3, the best brands to buy are:

On the other hand, if your pets have adequate UV light or don’t need vitamin D3, go for, these brands:

  • Zoo Med Repti Calcium without D3
  • Zilla Calcium Supplement Reptile Food Spray
  • Fluker Liquid Calcium Reptile Supplement
  • Fluker’s Calcium Without Vitamin D3 Supplement
  • Exo Terra Calcium Liquid Supplement
  • Komodo Bearded Dragon Dusting Powder

Finally, while most of the above don’t have phosphorus since it reduces the bioavailable calcium, you can buy the Rep-Cal Calcium – Phosphorus and Vitamin D3 Free or its ultrafine powder version.

Multivitamins

Besides the above, these pets also require multivitamins and mineral supplements, occasionally to prevent any deficiencies. Key ones include

1. Vitamin A and beta- carotene

Vitamin A deficiency can cause eye swelling, dryness, or cloudiness. However, an excessive amount can cause toxicity, therefore, avoid supplementing it.

Instead, include foods such as carrots, squash, cantaloupe, broccoli, sweet red pepper, and mango will provide the required amounts.

Additionally, give them multivitamins with beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A. These pets control the amount of beta-carotene they can convert to vitamin A to avoid toxicity.

Beta carotene and other carotenoids will also help these pets have their original color and reach their optimum potential in life, making it critical.

Also, ensure you give beta-carotene rich foods like carrot, dark leafy greens including kales, butternut squash, red bell pepper, among others.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential for reptiles. It will help boost their immunity to will ensure your beardie can fend off infections and diseases. While they are hardy, they do suffer from various diseases and conditions, especially if living under stress or poor environments, including low temperature, poor diets, and so on.

3. Phosphorus

While it is a vital mineral, most of these pet foods have enough of it, especially the various live foods. Therefore, do not supplement it as it will counteract the effort of calcium supplements.

Additionally, avoid supplements that have it too and red meat as it is high in phosphorus.

4. Iron

Iron is essential for optimum growth, development, and health. While supplementation may is unnecessary in adult, juvenile or baby bearded dragons may need occasional supplementation since they do not eat a lot of vegetables.

Additionally, ensure you give these pets foods high in iron, including asparagus, acorn squash, green beans, kale, collard greens, among others.

5. Best multivitamins to buy

To satisfy the need for the various nutrients, especially vitamins, macro, and trace minerals, buy any of the following multivitamins.

See reviews of the various supplements that these reptiles and others need.

Others supplements

Besides the above, we found it necessary to include the following as they are helpful to your beardie.

1. Natura Zone Herp Pro Supplements for Bearded Dragon

Made by Natural Zones, this is a calcium and probiotics powdered formulation that has a mixture of several antioxidants and carotenoids designed for bearded dragons. You need to sprinkle this powder in their food, including veggies, live foods, or prepared foods.

Key features

  • It will provide calcium to help maintain the required Ca:P ratio of 2:1 and vitamin D3 to boost its absorption. Your pets will have strong, healthy bones and reduce the chances of metabolic bone disease.
  • The probiotics will promote a healthy gut flora and boost immunity
  • Its several carotenoids form vital precursors that these pets skin need to have a deeper, vivid, and saturated skin pigmentation or color in case they have faded.
  • It has no artificial colors, dyes, or additives.
Nature Zone Herp Pro Supplements for Bearded Dragons Powder Formula Calcium - Probiotics
Nature Zone Herp Pro Supplements for Bearded Dragons Powder Formula Calcium – Probiotics

2. Nature Zone Bearded Dragon Vitamins & Probiotic

This Nature Zone product is not just for bearded dragons but by most amphibians and reptiles. You need to sprinkle a small amount to their live foods, including crickets or their veggies.

Key features

  • It will add seven different probiotic bacteria to the gut flora, something that will improve digestion, especially of veggies and greens.
  • It has carotenoids such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin canthaxanthin will are vital precursors in ensuring vivid skin pigmentation.
Nature Zone Bearded Dragon Vitamins & Probiotics 3 oz
Nature Zone Bearded Dragon Vitamins & Probiotics 3 oz

Dusting supplement schedule

We have given you the various supplements that these reptiles need. It is time to look at how you should dust their food.

To begin with, you should dust their vegetable salads and green and live feeder insects, and sprinkle these foods lightly. A smart way would be to alternating the days you dust vitamin D3 and calcium if you bought them separately.

A typical and vitamin D3 following the schedule if you have each separately:

  • Baby bearded dragons – Dust their foods with calcium powder for five days in a week and vitamin D3, do it for two days in a week.
  • For juveniles – If below a year, dust their food for 4-5 days in week calcium and two times for vitamin D3. Once they are over a year dust calcium 3-4 times in a week and for multivitamins, do it once or twice in a day a week,
  • Adult bearded dragons – Dust their food with calcium twice in a week and vitamin D3 once in a week.
  • Gravid female – if your beardies are carrying eggs, do it as you do for baby bearded dragons, i.e., five days in a week for calcium and vitamins for two days in a week. Calcium is vital for eggshell formation.
  • Sick beardies – In case your beardie is ill, your vet will guide you on how to dust their food.

Let your herp veterinarian help you further with dosages as well as certify if your current regime works well for your herps.

Secondly, avoid free-standing supplements since your beardie may lick too much and overdose and dust lightly. Excessive consumption of some supplements like calcium can calcify bones and damage organs or cause hypercalcemia.

Additional tips

In addition to supplementation and providing the correct UVB rays, other tips that will ensure a healthy beardie include:

Gut load live feeder insects

Gut loading will help enhance nutrients of the various feeder insects you give these pets, whether they are crickets, mealworms, superworms, Dubia roaches, or other feeder insects. Do it 24-48 hours before feeding them to your pet.

Give high calcium foods

Also, give your beardies plenty of staple veggies such as collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens as well as occasional vegetables such as kales and bok choy as they are high in this mineral.

Maintain correct temperature

Also, proper temperatures of 38 and 43°C in the basking area and 22 to 32°C on the cooler side are essential for these pets for adequate nutrients absorption as it boosts digestion.

Keep correct calcium: phosphorus ratio

While a Ca:P ratio of 1:1 is ok, target at keeping a proportion of Ca:P ratio at 2:1 or higher as this will ensure your pets do not suffer from calcium deficiency.

Furthermore, Avoid high phosphorus foods like a day old chick, muscle meat, pea sprouts, pinkie mice, and diet high in oxalic acid as it binds with calcium reducing the available one. Such foods include spinach, beetroot tops, rhubarb, beets, swiss chard, and so on.

Give them water or moisture source

Keep them hydrated. Dehydration hinders nutrient absorption, and it can be through ensuring their watering bowls are filled and giving them fresh foods.

References

  1. Stahl, S., and Donoghue, S. Nutrition of Reptiles. In: Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, et al., editors. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. Topeka (KS): Mark Morris Institute; 2010.
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