Complete antioxidant program


A complete antioxidant program should be diversified to enable the stimulation and support of all antioxidant mechanisms, allowing animals to maintain a high level of performance even in stressful periods.

There is an ever-growing demand to produce protein for human consumption. The world population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. This increase in demand will lead to increased pressure for producers to be more productive and profitable. Increased production leads to higher levels of oxidative stress in production animals. Stress can originate from technological, nutritional, environmental, and internal stressors. Sanitary pressure, parturition, weaning, housing conditions, anti-nutritional factors, mycotoxins, and heat stress, to name a few.

How does stress impact the redox balance?

Reactive oxygen species (ROS), a type of free radical, are a normal by-product of cellular metabolism and are essential for several physiological processes including immunity and transcription factors activation. ROS are produced as part of the body’s natural defence mechanism against invading microorganisms. They can either be produced during a normal immune response involving neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages or just be a result of normal cell respiration by the mitochondria. More recently the effect of reactive nitrogen species has also been brought to light.

Normal metabolic processes lead to oxidation, but important biomolecules (lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids) can be damaged when an excessive amount of these reactive species are produced. Oxidative stress occurs when the level of pro-oxidants, including free radicals, overwhelms the level of antioxidants.  To maintain the redox balance animals developed a natural (endogenous) antioxidant defence network.

Three major levels of defence are included in the antioxidant system of living cells:

  1. Prevention of the free-radical formation using glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT).
  2. Restriction of propagation, which specifically requires vitamin E.
  3. Repair or removal of damaged molecules (DNA, lipids, proteins).

Correct supplementation of antioxidants can restore the balance between pro- and antioxidants during stressful conditions but to be effective, the functionality and differences between the various types of antioxidants must be understood:

SOD initiates the detoxification chain. Past attempts to supplement pure SOD enzyme were futile since the SOD is easily deactivated by digestive enzymes. This can be avoided by supplementing natural plant extracts that contain protected SOD. The high molecular weight of such exogenous SOD sources limits the absorption thereof in the intestine. Instead, through interaction with specific intestinal receptors, it stimulates the production of endogenous antioxidant enzymes, SOD, GSH-Px and CAT.

Melofeed from Lallemand, is a unique source of natural Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) that stimulates endogenous SOD activity, thereby improving animal antioxidant capacity.

Selenium is one of the most important role players in all levels of antioxidant defence. It forms part of at least 25 selenoproteins, all of which play a vital role in the regulation of various biological pathways. More than half of the selenoproteins are involved in redox balance maintenance and protection against oxidative stress. GSH-Px is a vital selenoenzyme belonging to the first two lines of defence where it functions to finish the detoxification chain, initiated by SOD, and requires selenium as a non-substitutable co-factor. Selenium can be supplemented in inorganic, (sodium selenite) and organic (OH-Selenomethionine, seleno-yeast, etc.) forms. Studies have shown that the uptake of organic sources containing selenomethionine (SeMet) are superior to inorganic sources. The added advantage of supplementing with SeMet is that it can be stored in body tissues and serve as a reserve to maintain the redox balance and production during stress. When considering an organic selenium source, it is important to look at the level of SeMet and not only the total Se content.

Vitam International partnered with both Lallemand and Adisseo to bring Alkosel and Selisseo, market-leading sources of organic selenium, to our customers to achieve enhanced stress resistance and immunity, optimal growth, better reproductive performance, and higher quality end products.

Essential micronutrients Vitamin E and Se share a common biological role but are not interchangeable. Fat-soluble Vitamin E prevents lipid peroxidation, playing an important role in maintaining cell membrane integrity. Vitamin E can be supplemented either in a natural or synthetic form. The synthetic form is used more often because of lower premix stability and high cost; however, natural sources have a superior biological activity, especially in young animals.

Vitamin C, a water-soluble non-enzymatic antioxidant, have two major functions in the antioxidant system. It not only acts by neutralising free radicals but aids in sparing Vitamin E and reduces tocopheroxyl radicals back to active Vitamin E and neutralises free radicals inside the cell.

Supplementation with high levels of Vitamins E and C is commonly used to combat oxidative stress. Instead, using polyphenols to replace up to 50% of Vitamin E, such as those found in grape extracts, can stimulate the production of certain endogenous oxidative stress defences while also regenerating Vitamins E and C.

Nor-Grape® 80 from Nor-Feed is a grape extract standardised for polyphenols – very potent natural antioxidants. Provides water-soluble physiological antioxidants and enhances the animal’s antioxidant defences.

Endogenous antioxidant systems are easily overwhelmed in modern animal production systems resulting in impaired animal productivity, fertility, and immunity. To maintain balance during stress exogenous antioxidant supplementation should be increased. To achieve these all-antioxidant mechanisms should be stimulated through the provision of the necessary antioxidants, allowing animals to maintain a high level of performance.


Adisseo FeedSolutions. (n.d.). 200 years of Selenium.

Bruneel, B. (2019, August 9). Stress in swine. How to deal with it. FeedMagazine/Kraftfutter, 28–30.

Celi, P. (2010). The role of oxidative stress in small ruminants’ health and production. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 39(suppl spe). link

Delles, R. M., Xiong, Y. L., True, A. D., Ao, T., & Dawson, K. A. (2014). Dietary antioxidant supplementation enhances lipid and protein oxidative stability of chicken broiler meat through promotion of antioxidant enzyme activity. Poultry Science, 93(6), 1561–1570. link

Estévez, M. (2015). Oxidative damage to poultry: from farm to fork. Poultry Science, 94, 1368–1378.

Ganaie, A. H., Hooda, O. K., Singh, S. vir, Ludri, A., & Upadhyay, R. C. (2013). Effect of vitamin C supplementation on immune status and oxidative stress in pregnant Murrah buffaloes during thermal stress. Indian Journal of Animal Sciences, 83, 649–655.

Kindt, T. J., Goldsby, R. A., & Osborne, B. A. (2007). Kuby Immunology (6th ed.). W. H. Freeman and Company.

Surai, P. F. (2018). Chapter 1 Antioxidant systems in animal body. In Selenium in poultry nutrition and health. Wageningen Academic Publishers. link

Surai, P. F., Kochish, I. I., Fisinin, V. I., & Juniper, D. T. (2019). Revisiting Oxidative Stress and the Use of Organic Selenium in Dairy Cow Nutrition. Animals, 9(7). link

United Nations. (2022). World population to reach 8 billion on 15 November 2022.

Vandenbossche, C., & Engler, P. (2021, May 4). Poultry World. Grape Polyphenols: An Ally to Fight Heat Stress.

Why use Melofeed? Melofeed stimulates endogenous superoxide dismutase (SOD) expression and increases...
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Why use Alkosel? Alkosel is produced under high-quality standards which guarantees a...
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Why use Selisseo®? Selisseo® is the only hydroxy-selenomethionine that can fully deliver...
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Nor-Grape® 80
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Why use Nor-Grape® 80? Nor-Grape® 80 directly neutralises free radicals, promotes the...
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Marthie Nickols

Marthie Nickols

Poultry Development Manager