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  If the daily diet doesn't provide enough minerals and vitamins birds can become ill. A vitamin deficiency can lead to different mild health problems or even severe illnesses. Budgies and other birds need many minerals and vitamins, but four of them are most important and therefore they are described in this chapter.

All deficiency symptoms occur due to undernourishment in general. The first aim of each bird owner should be to avoid such diet mistakes.

Lack of vitamin A
Budgies who lack vitamin A tend to be vulnerable to respiratory diseases (e.g. cold). Larger parrots (in particular Grey Parrots) often suffer from aspergillosis due to a lack of vitamin A. Also the plumage of many affected birds appears dull coloured, in some cases they also show flaky beaks, cere and feet. Some budgies are afflicted with a so-called hyperkeratosis which means that the cere is thickened.

Furthermore, a chronic lack of vitamin A can lead to swellings of the skin around the lower mandible (beak) because the salivary glands that are located in this area of the body are swollen. The mucosa of the throat frequently is yellowish- or whitish-coated, and the birds suffer from eye diseases such as conjunctivitis or swellings of the eye lids.

If a bird is suspected of suffering from a lack of vitamin A one should react fast. For example the swellings of the salivary glands can be treated with vitamin injections in the initial stage of the disease. Later on it is impossible to cure these swellings by the aid of the vitamin; the glands have to be excised by a vet then.

Lack of vitamin B
In case a bird suffers from a lack of vitamin B, paralysed legs are the after-effect. Like convulsions they suddenly appear and the affected bird is extremely scared. Most budgies are unable to perch on a twig because of a paralysis. They fall onto the ground and hobble around.

Avian vets provide liquids that can be added to the drinking water, these food supplements contain a vitamin B complex. In addition to this it's often helpful to inject the birds with vitamin B. Please do never try to cure a bird who is lacking vitamin B on your own; you should always talk to an avian vet for choosing the right therapy.

Lack of vitamin D
In a bird's body, the vitamin D is very important for metabolic processes concerning minerals. It supports the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the food while it passes the small intestine. Also this vitamin is responsible for the skeleton's supply with mineral salts. If a lack of vitamin D occurs the organism is no longer able to build steady bones because it is missing calcium. Therefore the bones become too soft and they bend. When a young bird (a chick) is affected by this phenomenon avian vets talk of rachitis, in older birds it is called adult rickets. With both diseases the symptoms are quite similar. The bones do not contain enough mineral salts and therefore become too soft and deformations of the skeleton (legs, spine) are the consequence.

With the help of a radiograph an avian vet can find out more about the status of a bird's skeleton and therefore can tell whether a budgie suffers from a lack of vitamin D or not. It is very important to assure an optimal mineral and vitamin supply by offering healthy food. In addition to this in many cases it helps to expose the sick bird to direct sunlight or the rays of a special lamp with UV radiation (e.g. Arcadia Bird Lamp external link). Ultraviolet light is important because the bird's skin needs these rays to produce the vitamin D3.

Lack of vitamin E
In particular White Cockatoos sensitively react to a lack of vitamin E. Budgies seem to be less predisposed but sometimes even this species is affected. If a bird's body lacks the vitamin E, the animal starts to tremble and stumbles when it tries to walk. Also cramps and compulsive circular motion can be symptoms of a lack of vitamin E. Many birds suffer from a reduced vision; in extreme cases they can even go completely blind.

Attention! If a lack of vitamin E once occurs the bird cannot be healed! Even injections of vitamin E do not heal the bird; they can only relieve the distress. Therefore it is important to provide a well balanced nutrition in order to prevent a deficiency of the vitamin E.

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