OK, what's up with all this dusting of the food with "supplements"?

I hear people all the time talk about "dusting with supplements" or "dusting with a multivitamin". What does this mean and why do we do it?

Here are some "facts" as I see them.*

  1. Multivitamin/Calcium all-in-one's are dangerous and should be avoided. Generally speaking you will want to use the calcium more often than the multivitamin. Use of them together too often could result in overdosing an animal with one or more vitamins.
  2. Calcium with D3 added to it (read the label, I'll bet it's in there) should only be used sparingly as you can OD them on the D3. D3 should be used VERY sparingly with animals that have access to real sun often. They get the D3 from the sun and you don't want to overdo it. I suspect that animals that are under a good UVB bulb most of the day are getting enough D3 also. At the most use the calcium with D3 once a week. I use it about once a month actually.
  3. Straight calcium (no D3) can be used with almost no danger of Overdosing. I use straight calcium carbonate a lot. The tortoises always have it sprinkled on their greens. I use it about every other day (small amount) on the iguana's food. I dust the crickets for my baby Bearded Dragons one feeding per day. I dust the adult Bearded Dragon's superworms or crickets 2x a week with this.
  4. Multivitamins are all different. Read the labels on these. The better ones have beta-carotene in them as opposed to Vitamin A. Vitamin A can be toxic in high levels. Some of the supplements out there are really high in Vitamin A. Be careful. I use Rep-Cal's Herptivite as a multivitamin supplement. I use it because it has no Vitamin A in it and is relatively safe. I also don't overuse it. I give all my guys a good diet, therefore they should be getting most of the vitamins they need from their food. I will dust crickets with Herptivite or add it to veggies maybe once a month. Please don't assume that you can feed a poor unvaried diet and make up for it with a multivitamin sprinkled on every day. This would be akin to feeding a child twinkies every day plus a chewable vitamin. You know that's not right so don't do that to your reptiles!

So, what's the conclusion? I recommend you buy a plain old calcium powder like Bone-Aid or Rep-Cal (no D3) and use it often. Buy a multivitamin like Herptivite and use it once a week or so.


* based on my opinions after years of supplementing to one extent or another. This information is a guide only and based on my experiences not scientific evidence. Please do some more reading about supplementation before implementing a program of your own.