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Nutrition & Ingredient Glossary
Adaptogens are any natural, herbal compound purported to enhance the bodyʼs ability to withstand stress, trauma, anxiety, or pathogenic challenge. Historically, they were referred to as rejuvenating herbs, tonics, or restoratives. Although all adaptogens contain antioxidants, their antioxidant activity is not considered to be their primary mechanism of action.
Alpha lipoic acid
Alpha lipoic acid (or simply “lipoic acid”) is a natural antioxidant compound synthesized by the body and found in every cell. An essential cofactor for many enzymatic reactions, lipoic acid plays a crucial role in cellular energy production. In addition, although it possesses weak antioxidant capacity, lipoic acid has the unique ability to restore many essential antioxidants like vitamins C and E, glutathione, and CoQ10, so that they can be reused and recycled over and over again.
Lipoic acid first drew major attention from the medical community when researchers affiliated with the National Institute of Health reported that lipoic acid administration during acute liver failure could help reverse hepatic damage and restore liver function. Since that time, lipoic acid has been used to successfully treat chronic liver disease from viral and autoimmune hepatitis, as well as mushroom poisoning. Additional studies indicate that lipoic acid also protects liver function by acting as a potent heavy metal chelator, especially of mercury. In other work, lipoic acid has been experimentally shown to increase glucose uptake in cell culture, an attribute that may help it to stabilize blood sugar levels and combat diabetes. In Europe, it is often recommended for use by diabetics to treat both peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, and pain in the limbs) and autonomic neuropathy, which afflicts nerves supplying the heart muscle. Preliminary data suggest alpha-lipoic acid may also be helpful in treating or preventing glaucoma, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
Lipoic acid is found in miniscule amounts in most foods, with slightly higher concentrations found in organ meats, spinach, broccoli, and yeast extracts.
Amino acids are the nitrogen-containing subunits that make up all proteins. Of the 21 different amino acids that go into building a protein chain, nine of them are considered essential because the human body lacks the physiological machinery to assemble them from their component parts. Of the remaining twelve amino acids, three of them are considered to be “conditionally essential” because, in many instances, the body is unable to assemble them in sufficient quantities to support optimal health and well being.
Amylase is the enzyme that commences the chemical digestion of complex carbohydrates by initiating the process of breaking them down into simple sugars consisting of monosaccharides (single sugar molecules) and disaccharides (two sugar molecules). In animals, amylase is secreted by the salivary glands and pancreas. As a nutritional supplement and/or constituent of bread-making, it may be derived from plants, fungi (yeast), or bacteria.
Antioxidants are a group of naturally occurring compounds that help protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. Some well known examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, and selenium.
Beta-Carotene is the best known of a family of antioxidant compounds termed carotenoids. Although beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body on an as- needed basis, carotenoids also perform important functions in their own right. Specifically, this powerful class of antioxidants protects cells and tissues from free radical damage and is believed to play a role in combatting a host of medical conditions and chronic diseases that includes cancer, macular degeneration, heart and vessel disease, dementia, and skin aging.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of beta-carotene include: apricots, cantaloupe, mango, plantain, peaches, prunes, watermelon, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, and red peppers.
Biotin (B7) is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for normal cell growth, fatty acid production, and the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining healthy hair and nails and is found in many cosmetic and health products. Although severe deficiency is extremely rare because intestinal bacteria produce biotin, even marginal deficiency can have serious health consequences.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of biotin include: brewerʼs yeast, liver, legumes, rice, and nuts.
Factors that increase biotin requirements or deplete biotin stores include: alcohol and alcoholism, smoking; aging, epilepsy, athleticism; pregnancy and lactation.
Symptoms of biotin deficiency may include: marginal deficiency may lead to brittle nails, hair loss, absence or loss of hair pigment; moderate deficiency may lead to a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area; sever deficiency may result in depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and paresthesias (numbness and tingling of the extremities).
Boron optimizes calcium and magnesium absorption and may help promote healthy hormonal levels in post-menopausal women. Boron is also believed to have a beneficial effect on rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Itʼs acid derivative, boric acid or borate, is protective against the bacteria that contribute to acne, as well as fungal and yeast infections. In fact, boric acid has been used to successfully treat refractory vaginitis caused by candida overgrowth.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of boron include: nuts, beans, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, dates, peanut butter, wine, and raisins.
Bromelain is a combination of enzymes found naturally in the juice and stems of pineapples that is believed to assist with protein digestion. In addition, bromelain is often recommended as a natural anti-inflammatory compound with therapeutic effects for osteoarthritis as well as post-operative swelling of the nasal cavities and sinuses.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is integral to numerous physiological processes. It is the major constituent of bones and teeth where over 99% of the bodyʼs calcium is stored. In addition to the part it plays in making bones and teeth robust and resilient, calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction (skeletal, heart, and visceral), and neuronal communication. In addition, calcium acts as a cofactor (see Vitamin) for numerous reactions including normal blood clotting.
A supplementation regimen that includes calcium should always include magnesium in a ratio of between one and two to one (1:1 - 2:1) calcium to magnesium.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of calcium include: dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, tofu, and fortified foods.
Factors that increase calcium requirements or deplete calcium stores include: inadequate magnesium intake relative to calcium intake; salting your food; acidic urine due to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption; carbonated beverages and caffeine.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency may include: osteopenia or osteoporosis, muscle cramping, hypertension.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients that represent the main energy source for the body. For simplicityʼs sake, carbohydrates can be divided into two broad subcategories: fiber (see Fiber) and digestible carbohydrates, which can be further subdivided into complex carbohydrates and simple sugars.
Digestible complex carbohydrates, often referred to as “starches”, include any carbohydrate source comprising three or more linked sugar molecules. Food sources high in digestible complex carbohydrates include breads, potatoes, corn, pasta, and rice.
A single sugar molecule or monosaccharide, or a pair of linked sugar molecules or disaccharide, are referred to as “simple sugars.”
Both starches and simple sugars serve as primary energy sources. Before they can be absorbed from the GI tract, digestive processes must first reduce starches and disaccharides into their component monosaccharides. Following their absorption, all monosaccharides are then converted in the liver to the monosaccharide known as glucose before entering the general circulation.
When the pancreas senses glucose entering the general circulation, it releases the hormone insulin to escort glucose out of the bloodstream and into tissue cells.
Carbohydrate foods that find their way into the blood stream gradually produce minimum insulin responses and are said to have a low glycemic index. These include: fruits, leafy vegetables, and legumes. Carbohydrate foods that flood the general circulation with glucose induce a surge of insulin and are said to have a high glycemic index. These include: processed and/or refined cereal grains, bread products, pasta, white rice, potatoes, corn, regular soda, alcoholic beverages, and fruit juice. Over time, a diet that includes high glycemic index carbohydrates promotes insulin resistance which contributes to chronically elevated insulin levels and blood glucose, both of which foster wide-spread inflammation and chronic disease.
Carotenoids (see Beta-carotene)
Cellulase refers to a class of digestive enzymes produced chiefly by fungi and bacteria that digest plant cell walls (cellulose). Human supplementation with cullulase may increase nutrient availability from edible plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Cholecalciferol (see Vitamin D)
Choline is an essential, water-soluble nutrient that is usually classified as a B vitamin. Choline plays an important role in cell membrane structure throughout the body and represents a key building block of the ubiquitous neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as well as the endogenous emulsifier phosphatidylcholine (PC) (see also Phosphatidylcholine). In a large population-based study, low choline concentrations were associated with an increased risk for anxiety symptoms. Ongoing research suggests that a high choline intake may have the potential to enhance cognitive abilities, improve memory, and combat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of choline include: egg yolks, beef, chicken, veal, and turkey liver.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral; although we require only minuscule concentrations of chromium, these trace amounts are absolutely critical to good health.
Chromium optimizes insulin function and helps get vital substrates-- namely glucose and amino acids-- out of the bloodstream and into muscles and other active tissues. This may increase the amount of glucose that is used as an energy source to fuel muscular contraction and other cellular processes and decrease the amount that gets converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. Likewise, amino acids, which comprise the molecular subunits of protein, can then be used for tissue growth and repair. Increased levels of chromium have been experimentally shown to increase insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Chromium supplementation in conjunction with exercise may increase both fat loss and muscle retention in healthy individuals.
Itʼs estimated that 90% of American adults donʼt get enough chromium in their diet.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of chromium include: apples, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and eggs.
Factors that increase chromium requirements or deplete chromium stores include: air pollution, exercise, stress, processed foods, prescription drugs, age, and viral illnesses; the consumption of processed foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates (i.e. bread, pasta, pastries, etc.).
Symptoms of calcium deficiency may include: moodiness, fatigue, and depression, as well as sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) refers to a group of chemically-related cobalt- containing vitamin compounds that play a key role energy production and immune system function, as well as the synthesis of DNA, fatty acids, red blood cells, and myelin sheaths, the specialized cells that surround and insulate nerves. Vitamin B12 is also essential for the cellular reaction that detoxifies homocysteine, rendering it harmless to blood vessels.
High stomach acidity plus intrinsic factor, a substance produced by the specialized cells found only in the gastric mucosa, are both necessary for proper B12 absorption. Because gastric acid secretion and intrinsic factor production both tend to decrease as we age, B12 deficiency is quite common and leads to a form of megaloblastic anemia (where blood cells are enlarged) known as pernicious anemia. An estimated one-third of people over 60 cannot extract adequate amounts of B12 from diet alone.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of B12 include: meat, liver, shellfish, milk, and eggs.
Factors that increase B12 requirements or deplete B12 stores include: antacids; aging; vegetarian or vegan diet; malabsorption syndrome or gastric bypass surgery; tapeworm or giardia infection; drugs such as metformin; potassium supplementation-- but only in the presence of other risk factors.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency may include: The initial symptoms of B12 deficiency are vague and can include fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances, decreased concentration, and depression. As it progresses, B12 deficiency may lead to paresthesias (numbness and tingling), impaired sense of smell, memory loss, disturbed coordination, confusion, mania, psychosis, personality changes, and impaired mental function that, in an elderly person, may mimic Alzheimerʼs disease.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) (see Ubiquinol) Chondroitin sulphate is one the key substrates necessary for the proper formation of cartilage. Because cartilage is avascular (has no blood supply), it does not possess the healing capacity of more resilient tissues such as skin and bone. It is believed that by increasing the availability of crucial building blocks, chondroitin supplementation may enhance the bodyʼs limited capacity for cartilage repair and, in doing so, optimize joint health. Indeed, compelling evidence indicates that chondroitin sulfate, when used consistently, may inhibit the progression of osteoarthritis and preserve joint architecture. Moreover, many studies support oral supplementation of chondroitin sulphate for the relief of moderate to severe arthritis pain.
Copper is an essential trace element that performs a wide range of physiological functions. Copper acts as a catalyst in the formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells, and is a primary element in the production of melanin, the pigment found in eyes, hair and skin. Copper is also a powerful antioxidant and is believed to combat certain forms of cancer as well as arthritis. Copper is integral to proper iron absorption, thyroid and nerve function, and connective tissue formation. It works as an enzyme cofactor (see Vitamin) in the synthesis of adrenaline and dopamine.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of copper include: brewerʼs yeast, liver, legumes, rice, and nuts.
Factors that increase copper requirements or deplete copper stores include: Zinc interferes with copper absorption. Supplementation regimens that include zinc should also include copper in a ratio of 0.5 - 1.0 mg copper for every 10 mg zinc.
Symptoms of copper deficiency may include: decreased HDL cholesterol, dermatitis, edema, anemia, auditory hallucinations, depression, and binge eating.
Curcuminoids are derivatives of a curcumin (see Turmeric) that have been chemically altered to increase solubility and hence, bioavailability, of the active components for pharmaceutical and supplement formulation.
Digestive enzymes are proteins found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and the GI secretions of humans and animals. These enzymes break down the three basic macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) into their constituent subunits during the chemical phase of the digestive process. In humans, peak production of many digestive enzymes tends to diminish with age; supplementing with these enzymes may increase nutrient availability from ingested foods. Common examples of digestive enzymes include amylase, lipase, and protease.
Disaccharides are simple sugars consisting of two linked sugar molecules. (see also Amylase and Carbohydrates.)
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA)
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) (see Fish oil)
Eicosapentaenoic acid EPA
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (see Fish oil)
Eleutherococcus senticosus is a species of small, woody shrub erroneously referred to in many herbal products as “Siberian Ginseng”. Although it is not a true relative of Ginseng, when taken regularly, e. senticosus may promote both cognitive function and physical performance. It has a long history of use as an adaptogen in its native habitats of East Asia, China, Japan and Russia, and has recently gained popularity among western herbalists and practitioners of natural medicine. E. senticosus is antiinflammatory and demonstrates a wide range of health benefits purported to include increased endurance, improved memory, enhanced immune function, and anti-cancer activity. In human studies, its primary constituent has been used to treat bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiation, as well as angina symptoms, high cholesterol, headache, insomnia, and poor appetite. Animal research suggests it may also be effective as an antidepressant therapy.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a phytonutrient found in abundance in green tea that possesses remarkable antioxidant properties. To date, research indicates that EGCG may combat everything from the most prevalent forms of cancer (breast, prostate, lung, skin, colon, bladder, cervical, esophageal, and stomach) to obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic complications, influenza, fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. Numerous investigations demonstrate an association between green tea consumption and lower LDL cholesterol, diminished LDL cholesterol oxidation, and decreased incidence of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Other studies indicate that green tea consumption decreases symptoms of osteoarthritis, improves kidney, liver and pancreatic function, and can even help protect your skin and eyes from sun damage. Human epidemiological studies, as well as pre-clinical trials using animal models, indicate that green tea and its extracts may decrease the incidence of dementia from all causes, including Alzheimerʼs and Parkinsonʼs.
Fats are macronutrients made up of fatty acid subunits. Fat is an important secondary energy source and is vital for proper brain health, nerve function, reproductive health, and healthy skin. Contrary to popular belief, a diet that is too low in fat actually promotes weight gain for several reasons. First, you need to eat fat in order to burn fat. Second, itʼs the fat in your meal makes you feel full. And third, fat slows the absorption of other macronutrients and decreases the likelihood that calories will ʻspill overʼ and get stored as fat. For this reason, healthy fat should be included with every single meal and should represent no less than 30% of total caloric intake.
Different types of fat effect human health and physiology differently. Saturated fat, found in all whole food animal protein sources, is healthy when consumed in moderation. Monounsaturated fat, found in high concentrations in olives, avocados, nuts, and seeds, promotes a healthy heart and a lean body composition. The polyunsaturated fats that occur in the highest concentrations in corn, canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oil, are pro-inflammatory and contribute to heart disease. The essential fatty acids that occur in the highest concentrations in cold water fish and fish oil are anti-inflammatory and contribute to a steadfast homeostasis, overall good health, and a firm physique. Trans fats are deadly and should be eliminated from the diet altogether.
Fatty acids are the basic subunits of triglyceride molecules, the fundamental lipid molecules that makes up all organic fats. Three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone form a triglyceride molecule.
Fiber is a form of complex carbohydrate that cannot be digested by the human GI tract. Hence, functionally speaking, it is calorically vacant. Fiber is, none-the-less, vital to good health. Inadequate dietary fiber may lead to elevated cholesterol, weight gain, a sluggish GI tract, water retention, bloating, constipation, and an increased risk for developing colon cancer. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes are excellent sources of fiber that are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A minimum of six servings of fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, and legumes should be consumed every day in order to help meet basic fiber needs.
Fish oil derived from the flesh of cold water fish contains high concentrations of specific anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are otherwise lacking in our modern diet. Thousands of studies demonstrate that fish oil exerts beneficial effects on virtually every aspect of human physiology, including a myriad of degenerative disorders and frank disease processes. The two main active ingredients, omega-3 essential fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), have not only proven to be instrumental in disease prevention, but their effects lend credence to the notion that chronic disease and so-called “normal” aging are inextricably linked, arising from the shared etiology of low- grade, systemic inflammation.
By virtue of its ability to combat inappropriate inflammatory responses, fish oil supplementation has been credited with boosting immune function, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk for heart and vessel disease, stroke, age-related macular degeneration, and a host of autoimmune disorders. Likewise, by fighting insulin resistance, fish oil not only helps prevent weight gain, it can play a significant role in reversing metabolic syndrome and lowering the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Fish oil supplementation also appears to inhibit the degradation and inflammation of osteoarthritis, the most common cause of joint pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility associated with aging. In addition, emerging research shows a strong correlation between the increased consumption of fish oil and a decreased risk for all five of the most prevalent forms of cancer (breast, lung, colon, prostate, and skin). Fish oil supplementation has also been experimentally shown to help combat existing malignancy.
Flavonoids are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other edible plant matter that boast a diverse array of biochemical and antioxidant effects. Sometimes referred to as “bioflavonoids” by the media, flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds (compounds comprising multiple phenol rings) that are ubiquitous in nature and are subcategorized according to chemical structure into flavonols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins and chalcones.
Over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified thus far, a growing number of which continue to garner considerable interest from the scientific and medical communities thanks to their health-promoting attributes. Studies demonstrate beyond a doubt that the diverse array of antiinflammatory and antioxidant activities demonstrated by flavonoids play key roles in combatting everything from cardiovascular disease to viral infections, allergies, asthma, cancer, dementia, and the aging process itself.
Folate (B9) is among the most important water-soluble vitamins. Folate functions in conjunction with cobalamin (vitamin B12) and is integral to rapid cell division. Itʼs deficiency among pregnant women has been definitively linked to neural tube defects in the fetus. All women who are trying to conceive are advised to begin supplementing with folate a few months prior, and should continue taking folate throughout their pregnancy and while nursing. In addition to its crucial role before and during pregnancy, adequate folate is also important for lowering homocysteine levels. Research also suggests that inadequate folate in the diet may be a causal factor in breast, colon, and pancreatic cancers.
Folate deficiency is the single most common vitamin deficiency in the world and is common even in developed nations like the US. Unfortunately, deficiency may not produce obvious symptoms and can go undetected for prolonged periods.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of folate include: leafy green vegetables, dried beans, peas, and fortified foods.
Factors that increase folate requirements or deplete folate stores include: pregnancy, alcohol and alcoholism, hemodialysis; certain drugs such as anticonvulsants, diuretics, and methotrexate; malabsorption disorders as well as bowel, liver, and/or kidney disease.
Symptoms of folate deficiency may include: poor appetite, weight loss, headaches, diarrhea; megaloblastic anemia.
Free Radicals are charged particles resulting both from normal metabolic processes as well as exposure to toxins, pollutants, and UV radiation, that cause injury to cells, tissues, and organs. Free radical damage, and the resulting inflammation, are believed to contribute to numerous chronic diseases ranging from degenerative arthritis and dementia to heart disease and cancer, not to mention both the cosmetic and physiological sequelae of aging.
Ginger root is a tuber comprising the underground stem of the ginger plant, Zingiber officinale. Ginger root has been consumed as a food, spice, and medicinal ingredient for thousands of years in Asia, India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Historically, ginger root was used to treat digestive disorders, nausea and arthritis. Its antibacterial properties have made it an important adjunctive therapy in treating enterotoxin-induced diarrhea, which is the leading cause of death among infants in developing countries. Current studies indicate that ginger root has blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may be effective in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Studies also support its role in the treatment of nausea secondary to morning sickness, seasickness, and chemotherapy. Ginger is also an excellent source of zinc.
Glucosinolates are a class of sulfur and nitrogen-containing plant metabolites occurring naturally in turnips, radishes, rutabaga, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. About 120 different glucosinolates have been identified so far, several which have captured the attention of the scientific community for their apparent role in cancer prevention. In addition to antioxidant properties, glucosinolates are believed to confer protection against malignancy via both enzymatic and hormonal mechanisms.
Glycemic index (see Carbohydrates)
Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract contains high concentrations of health-promoting antioxidant polyphenols known as proanthocyanidins that, according to current research, may exert health promoting effects for a wide range of common medical conditions, but appear to be especially beneficial for the prevention and treatment of heart and vessel disease. For starters, proanthocyanidins appear to play a role in lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels, inhibiting platelet aggregation (the platelet “stickiness” that may contribute to arterial plaque formation), reducing overall cardiac inflammation, and decreasing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol-- a collection of attributes that adds up to a potentially powerful cardioprotective effect. By protecting collagen from free radical damage, proanthcyanidins may also help to protect the structural integrity of veins and capillaries. Their consumption is recommended in the prevention and treatment of vascular disorders and capillary fragility, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Studies using animal models indicate that proanthcyanidins are beneficial to numerous physiological processes including wound healing and normal immune function, and that they may help prevent everything from tooth decay and osteoporosis to UV damage and skin cancer.
Another polyphenolic compound found in high concentration in grape seed extract is resveratrol, a phytochemical produced by several plant species that combats bacterial and fungal pathogens. According to initial animal studies, resveratrol shows promise as a chemotherapeutic agent by inhibiting tumor growth and malignant cell proliferation and contributing to cancer cell death. In other animal research, resveratrol also appears to function as an anti-diabetic agent that may extend natural life span.
Homocysteine is a byproduct of protein metabolism. Elevated blood levels have been linked to a significantly to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Hesperidin is an antioxidant flavonoid found in abundance in citrus fruits and peppers that enhances vitamin C absorption. Hesperidin is also a powerful antiinflammatory agent that may play an important role in human health by helping to maintain blood vessel and capillary structure and integrity. In animal models, it has been shown to reduce both cholesterol and blood pressure, and may diminish age-related decreases in bone density. Hesperidin is widely recommended in Europe as an adjunctive therapy for treating venous insufficiency and hemorrhoids, as well as for preventing vericose veins, hay fever, and allergies. It has also been suggested that hesperidin used in conjunction with vitamin C may improve collagen quality, increasing connective tissue strength and possibly helping to combat the cosmetic signs of aging.
Hyaluronic acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a long, unbranched glucosaminoglycan (GAG) made up of repeating disaccharide units (bonded pairs of sugar molecules) that forms a gel-like substance found in abundance in normal joint fluid, cartilage, skin, and inside the eye. The varying configurations of HA, composed of the two sugar molecules glucuronic acid and acetyl-glucosamine, are absolutely essential to joint health and skin elasticity, and play a pivotal role in stabilizing the vitreous gel.
By virtue of its molecular structure, HA is hydrophilic, or “water loving.” It can bind hundreds of times its weight in water, and is responsible for keeping connective tissues like cartilage and skin plump, moist, and flexible. Various forms of injectable and implantable HA are widely used in the medical management of degenerative joint disease and fractures, as well as cosmetic treatments for aging skin.
Unfortunately, research indicates that the bodyʼs ability to produce HA may decline rapidly after age 40. However, oral HA supplementation, especially in conjunction with Chondroitin sulphate, shows great promise in the prevention and treatment of both osteoarthritis and aging skin.
Inositol plays an important role as the key structural component for a number of cellular messengers. Though not considered a vitamin because the body is capable of synthesizing limited quantities, inositol should be included in the diet as the body is not able to manufacture it in quantities adequate for optimal health. Inositol is crucial to a number of biological processes, including glucose and fat metabolism, nerve function, calcium balance, regulation of seritonin activity, and gene expression. Low levels of Inositol have been linked to clinical depression, and supplementing with inositol shows promise in the management of a number of psychiatric disorders including bulimia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, unipolar depression, and bipolar disorder. There is some evidence that inositol may be used effectively against both heart disease and certain types of cancer. Inositol is also recommended for hair care as it is purported to help retain hairʼs moisture.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of inositol include: fruits, especially cantaloup and oranges, legumes, nuts, and the bran portion of grains.
Iodine is an element essential to proper thyroid function. The thyroid gland uses iodine in the production of thyroxine, a hormone integral to the regulation of energy production, body temperature, metabolism, and fertility.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of iodine include: iodized salt, seafood, seaweed, and dairy products.
Iodine deficiency is very rare in developed countries and eventually leads to a swollen thyroid gland, otherwise know as a goiter, with accompanying symptoms of hypothyroidism and losses in cognition. Deficiency during childhood results in irreversible mental retardation and failure to thrive.
Isoflavones are a subclass of flavonoids found in abundance in soybeans and foods made from processed soy such as tofu and misu, as well as and other legumes including chick peas, fava beans, alfalfa, and peanuts. Some isoflavones are considered to be phytoestrogens and can mimic the physiological effects of estrogen. In studies, some isoflavones have been found to combat breast and prostate cancer and help maintain bone density in post-menopausal women.
Lactase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, otherwise known as lactose which is a disaccharide, into its monosaccharide components of glucose and galactose. The natural production of lactase often decreases with age, making it difficult for many people to properly digest dairy products. Lactase deficiency is responsible for lactose intolerance.
Lecithin (see Phosphatidylcholine)
Lipase is a digestive enzyme secreted by the pancreas and the glands of the small intestine that catalyses the breakdown of fats into their constituent free fatty acids. The main lipase in human digestion is secreted by the pancreas. Lipases from fungi and bacteria serve important roles in yogurt and cheese fermentation as well as nutritional supplementation.
Lutein is a naturally occurring carotenoid found in green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as egg yolks and animal fats. Like many carotenoids, lutein demonstrates powerful antioxidant properties. Luteinʼs concentrated occurrence in the central part of the retina, or macula, is believed to help protect central visual receptors from the oxidative stress of high energy light. Research supports a direct relationship between lutein intake, increased macular pigmentation, and a decreased risk for macular degeneration and cataract development. It has been suggested that lutein supplementation may decrease the risk for age-related vision changes, especially among older individuals whose ability to absorb this nutrient may be decreased.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of lutein include: kale, spinach, turnip greens, Romaine lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garden peas, zucchini, kiwi, and egg yolks.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that are required by the body in large amounts both as a fuel source, and as the basic building blocks of human tissues. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats comprise the three fundamental macronutrients.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and functions as a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Adequate magnesium is required for proper nerve function, skeletal muscle contraction and relaxation, and efficient heart muscle function. Magnesium also helps to regulate insulin sensitivity and blood pressure, and is important for cell division, DNA production, and protein synthesis. About half of total body magnesium is found in bone; the remainder is found predominantly inside the most metabolically active tissues and cells of the body including the brain, heart and skeletal muscle, liver, and kidney.
Having adequate magnesium stores may be protective against heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, and immune dysfunction. An estimated three- quarters of Americans are at least marginally magnesium deficient.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of magnesium include: green vegetables, some legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds.
Factors that increase magnesium requirements or deplete magnesium stores include: prescription drugs including asthma medications, antibiotics, digitalis, diuretics, and cisplatin; alcohol and alcoholism; excessive vomiting and diarrhea; Crohnʼs disease and other malabsorptive disorders; poorly controlled diabetes.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include: early signs include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness; later symptoms include paresthesias (numbness and tingling in the extremities), muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and heart arrhythmias.
Manganese is a nutritionally essential mineral element that acts as an enzymatic cofactor for a number of life-sustaining physiological reactions. Manganese is a constituent of the antioxidant enzyme that is primarily responsible for protecting the mitochondria (the powerhouse organelles of cells) against oxidative stress and free radical damage. In addition, a number of manganese-activated enzymes are crucial to carbohydrate, amino acid, and cholesterol metabolism. Manganese is also needed for proper bone and cartilage formation and, because it plays an important role in collagen production, it is also vital for normal wound healing and skin health.
Deficiencies in manganese may lead to an increased risk for bone demineralization and osteoporosis.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of manganese include: wheat germ, pineapple, nuts, cocoa, tea, and shellfish.
Micronutrients are the nutrients that are required by the body in tiny amounts (milligrams and micrograms), for normal physiological function. Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are examples of micronutrients.
Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral that is a necessary component of several important physiological reactions involved in hepatic detoxification. It is also an essential cofactor for enzymes that mobilize iron from hepatic stores, and it plays an important role in protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Molybdenum is found in highest concentrations in the liver and kidney, as well as bone and skin.
Molybdenum deficiency has been implicated in various cancers, especially gastric and esophageal cancer. Increased molybdenum intake may decrease tooth decay.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of molybdenum include: beans, beef liver, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, and legumes.
Monosaccharides are simple sugars consisting of a single sugar molecule. (see also amylase and carbohydrates.)
N-Acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is synthesized naturally by the body from the amino acid cysteine, which is abundant in protein-rich foods. NAC is an antioxidant with the unique ability to enhance production of glutathione, one of the most important natural antioxidants in human metabolism.
NAC also breaks down mucus and is currently used therapeutically to help treat chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, as well as in those who have undergone a tracheostomy procedure. In addition, NAC is both hepatoprotective and nephroprotective. It is administered intravenously to prevent liver damage in cases of acetaminophen and other types of drug overdose, and for preventing radiocontrast- induced nephropathy, a form of acute renal failure that can occur following injections with imaging dyes in preparation for CT scans and coronary angiography.
Ongoing research suggests that NAC may also be effective at improving symptoms of a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. It may also reduce the risk of certain types of colon cancer in people with recurrent polyps, and improve insulin sensitivity and fertility in women suffering from polycystic ovarian disease.
Niacin (B3) refers to both niacin and nicotinamide, water-soluble B vitamins that are integral to numerous intracellular processes. Although niacin and nicotinamide have identical vitamin functions, niacin must be converted to nicotinamide before becoming physiologically active. Niacinʼs well-known “flushing” effect, as well as its ability to lower cholesterol, are the result of its conversion to nicotinamide. Hence, unlike niacin, nicotinamide does not cause flushing, nor does it boast cholesterol-lowering properties. In addition to its other metabolic activities, niacin is essential to proper blood circulation, nervous system function, DNA repair, and the production of steroid hormones.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of niacin include: liver and other organ meats, chicken, beef, eggs, fish, whole grains, avocados, peanuts and legumes. Niacin is also synthesized from tryptophan, an amino acid found in highest concentrations in meat, dairy foods, and eggs.
Factors that increase niacin requirements or deplete niacin stores include: Diarrhea, cirrhosis, alcoholism, carcinoid syndrome, and Hartnup disease, where tryptophan absorption is defective; eating a maize (Indian corn) -based diet.
Symptoms of niacin deficiency may include: Full blown niacin deficiency, or pellagra, is rare in developed countries and includes the three Ds of dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. Although marginal niacin status is unlikely to cause symptoms of pellagra, it can still have serious health consequences. Several pathways in the body compete with niacin for tryptophan, including the pathways leading to seritonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood) and melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep) production. Hence, a niacin-poor diet may contribute to a depressed mood and sleep difficulties.
Octacosanol is an oil derived from the leaves of several plant genera including eucalyptus, various cereal grasses and legumes, as well as wheat germ. Research indicates that octacosanol taken as a supplement may enhance oxygen utilization and increase endurance during intense physical activity. Other data suggests that it may also work to reduce cholesterol levels and promote vascular health.
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, an objective, scientific measure of the antioxidant capacity of a given food. A high ORAC score indicates that a particular food is rich in anti-oxidants. Although it does not prove that a particular food item will confer real-life health benefits, it is a good indicator that the food may protect cells and cellular components from oxidative damage and, in doing so, help fight a wide range of chronic diseases from osteoarthritis and dementia to heart disease, cancer, and the aging process itself.
PABA, short for para-aminobenzoic acid, is an amino acid with antioxidant activity that may slow and, in some cases, reverse the destructive cross-linking that occurs in connective tissues such as collagen as a result of free-radical damage.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of PABA include: liver, brewerʼs yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, and eggs. PABA is also synthesized by the microflora that inhabit the human GI tract.
Pancreatin is the combination of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas. As a dietary supplement, pancreatin is prepared from fresh or fresh-frozen pancreas generally of porcine or bovine origin. In many parts of the world, it is used as a digestive aid and may be therapeutic in treating food allergies, celiac disease, and weight loss due to illness. It is also used to treat pancreatic insufficiency secondary to conditions which include cystic fibrosis or relapsing pancreatitis.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Pantothenic Acid (B5) is a water-soluble vitamin critical to the synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Pantothenic acid functions as a precursor for of coenzyme A, which is required for intracellular energy metabolism and is important in the biosynthesis of many essential compounds including fatty acids, cholesterol, and acetylcholine. Coenzyme A also plays a key role in regulating a vast array of intracellular processes from signal transduction to enzyme activity.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of pantothenic acid include: meats, whole grains, broccoli and avocados.
Papain is a plant enzyme found naturally in unripe papayas. Used for centuries as a meat tenderizer, papain has recently found its way into nutritional supplements thanks to its purported ability to assist with protein digestion.
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) represents a class of phospholipid (fatty acids bound to phosphate groups) that also incorporates choline. PC represents such a major component of lecithin that the terms are sometime used interchangeably. However, PC is more correctly described as the purified, functional extract of lecithin.
A major component of cell membranes, PC plays an important role in intracellular communication. An integral component of bile, PC has the power to emulsify (dissolve) fat, which enables it to help prevent of gallstones, lower cholesterol, reduce arterial plaque formation, and combat heart and liver disease. Research suggests that PC supplementation may be beneficial in treating depression, memory loss and other neurological disorders. An impressive body of clinical evidence also indicates that PC is hepatoprotective, shielding the liver against damage from alcohol and alcoholism, pharmaceuticals, pollutants, viruses, and other toxins. In addition, PCs powers of emulsification enhance the bioavailability of nutrients with which it is co-administered.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of phosphatidylcholine include: egg yolks, soybeans and other legumes, wheat germ, brewers yeast, and fish.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral that performs a wide variety of functions necessary for all organic life. Phosphorus combines with oxygen to generate organic phosphate, the form used in intracellular reactions. Although about 85% of the bodyʼs phosphate stores are found in teeth and bones, phosphate also binds with fatty acids to form the primary structural component of all cellular membranes, and with lipoprotein particles in cholesterol synthesis. Phosphate is also a key a component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fundamental energy source for the vast majority of cellular reactions. It also forms part of the structural backbone of DNA and RNA molecules. Phosphorous is required for proper bone and tooth formation, cardiac and renal function, and the normal metabolism of carbohydrates. Phosphorus is also involved in maintaining a healthy balance of numerous vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, calcium, iodine, magnesium, and zinc.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of phosphorus include: high protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and legumes.
Factors that increase phosphorus requirements or deplete phosphorus stores include: excessive intake of aluminum-containing antacids; diabetes, starvation, alcoholism, and malabsorptive disorders.
Symptoms of phosphorous deficiency may include: although marginal deficiency is usually asymptomatic, severe and/or chronic deficiency may cause loss of appetite, anxiety, bone pain, bone fragility, joint stiffness, numbness, and weakness.
Phytochemicals (see phytonutrient)
Phytonutrients, also know as phytochemicals, are natural substances derived from plants (fruits, vegetables, and grains) that are believed to promote optimal health in humans. Subclasses of phytonutrients include flavonoids and carotenoids.
Polyphenols represent a class of colorful, organic phytonutrients that include flavonoids. Their chemical structure contains more than one phenol ring per molecule and they tend to possess powerful antioxidant activity.
Potassium is a mineral nutrient that occurs in nature as a salt. It is found in abundance dissolved in seawater. Chemically speaking, potassium is very similar to sodium, though they have very different functions in living cells. Potassium plays a pivotal role in nerve cell function as well as maintaining the correct osmotic balance between cells and the fluid spaces that surround them. Increased potassium intake relative to sodium intake may reduce the risk of hypertension, cardiac disease, kidney disease, fatal heart attack, and stroke.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of potassium include: oranges, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons, apricots, legumes, avocados, broccoli, spinach and meat.
Factors that increase potassium requirements or deplete potassium stores include: high sodium intake, use of certain prescription diuretics, periods of excessive vomiting, sweating, and/or diarrhea.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency may include: acne, fatigue, kidney stones, hypertension, muscle aches and muscle weakness.
Proanthocyanidins (see Grape skin extract)
Protease is a digestive enzyme secreted in the stomach and small intestine that breaks proteins down into absorbable peptides and amino acids.
Proteins are macronutrients that represent the primary building blocks of human tissue. They are made up of complex chains of twenty-one different amino acids, thirteen of which the body is able to manufacture. Because the human body lacks the necessary enzymes to synthesize the eight remaining amino acids from their components, these eight essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet. Protein sources that contain the full compliment of essential amino acids are said to be ʻcompleteʼ proteins. Whole foods derived from animal sources such as eggs, poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products represent rich sources of complete protein.
Even if your diet includes sufficient calories to fulfill your bodyʼs energy requirements, if dietary protein is lacking, your body will break down its own muscle tissue to create a steady supply of amino acids for the maintenance of internal organs and the manufacture of vital compounds. Because the body is unable to store excess protein, it should be ingested frequently throughout the day to provide a constant supply of amino acids for muscle growth, maintenance, and repair. In order to maintain their lean tissue mass and optimize fat burning, active individuals typically require more protein per pound of body weight per day than those who are sedentary.
Despite long-standing concerns about high protein diets, there is not one shred of scientific evidence that increased protein intake is harmful to healthy individuals with normal kidney function. From bone health to fat loss to blood pressure, evidence continues to accumulate that what was once considered “high” protein intake is good for you.
Pyridoxine (B6) comprises three separate substances that act as precursors to the activated compound, pyridoxal phosphate (PLP), a cofactor essential to amino acid metabolism as well as dozens of enzymatic reactions leading to the synthesis of histamine, hemoglobin, and various neurotransmitters. Because of its central role in cell division, vitamin B6 is crucial to proper immune function, normal fetal development, and the health of tissues comprising rapidly replicating cells such as the skin and mucous membranes. B6 is also necessary for the reactions governing the liberation of stored blood sugar for energy utilization, as well as the conversion of tryptophan to both niacin and seritonin (see niacin). B6 also helps render homocysteine (see homocysteine) harmless by converting it to the essential amino acid cysteine.
B6 may be an effective adjunct in the treatment of asthma, high cholesterol, stress, diabetic neuropathy, PMS and PMDD, as well as clinical depression, schizophrenia, and autism.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of vitamin B6 include: brewerʼs yeast, wheat germ, whole grains, avocados, soybeans, sunflower seeds, legumes, bananas, and walnuts.
Factors that increase vitamin B6 requirements or deplete B6 stores include:
Cooking, freezing, canning, food storage, and the use of hydrazine food dyes; certain drugs such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and oral contraceptives; alcohol and alcoholism; renal disease and dialysis; aging.
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency may include: impaired glucose tolerance, oral inflammation (especially tongue lesions), cracks in the corners of the mouth, weakness, irritability, dermatitis, and conjunctivitis. Long-term deficiency leads to neurological symptoms that include sleepiness, confusion, neuropathies, and seizures.
Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid found in greatest concentrations in red apples, red onions, red grapes, cherries, and cranberries. A growing stockpile of research indicates that quercetin possesses remarkable cardioprotective properties, from combatting cardiac inflammation on a cellular level to preventing blood clot formation and dissolving preexisting clots. In addition to its anti-clotting effects, studies show that quercetin is anti-hypertensive and that it helps prevent the ischemic injury (cell death cause by oxygen deprivation) that occurs during a myocardial infarction or “heart attack.” Quercetin also appears to battle cardiovascular disease by inhibiting smooth muscle cell proliferation and hypertrophy inside arteries, two factors that contribute to blockages and plaque formation. The same mechanism responsible for preventing smooth muscle cell proliferation in heart disease also appears to block the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells, which may explain quercetinʼs anti-tumor effects. According to a number of epidemiological studies, those who consume diets high in quercetin have a substantially decreased risk for stroke and fatal heart attack.
Resveratrol (see Grape skin extract)
Retinoids (see Vitamin A)
Retinol (see Vitamin A)
Riboflavin (B2) is an easily absorbed, water-soluble vitamin essential to a wide array of cellular processes. Like the other B vitamins, riboflavin plays a key role in energy utilization and is required for proper metabolism of the three main macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) as well as ketone bodies.
Although clinical signs of riboflavin deficiency are rarely seen in developed countries, approximately 28 million Americans are believed to be marginally deficient in this important B vitamin.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of riboflavin include: yeast extracts, milk, cheese, leafy greens, wheat bran, eggs, organ meats, legumes, and mushrooms.
Factors that increase riboflavin requirements or deplete riboflavin stores include: Oral contraceptives, aging, eating disorders, and chronic disease states including: HIV, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency may include: Overt signs of deficiency include cracked red lips, oral tissue inflammation, mouth ulcers, sore throat, dry and scaling skin, swelling in the mucous membranes, iron-deficiency anemia, and bloodshot, itchy eyes that are sensitive to light (photophobia).
Rutin, also known as rutoside, is an antioxidant flavonoid that enhances vitamin C absorption. It is found in abundance in buckwheat, asparagus, apples, black tea, the fruit and fruit rind of citrus fruits, as well as mulberries and cranberries. In humans, rutin attaches to iron ions, preventing them from binding to hydrogen peroxide and generating dangerous free radicals. Rutin is also a powerful antiinflammatory compound believed to both increase capillary strength and prevent the formation of blood vessels that would otherwise provide nutrients to malignant tumors. In addition, rutin appears to function as a blood thinner, inhibiting platelet aggregation and improving circulation. By inhibiting the enzyme known as aldose reductase, which is responsible for converting glucose (blood sugar) to the sugar alcohol sorbitol, rutin may prevent or delay the peripheral nerve and retinal damage commonly associated with diabetes. Rutin may also help preserve vision by combatting macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. Rutin in its iron-bound form may inhibit the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Its use in conjunction with vitamin C is believed to stabilize the collagen matrix, thereby improving the health of connective tissues and possibly even helping to prevent wrinkles.
Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as a cofactor in the formation of important antioxidant enzymes known as selenoproteins. These antioxidant enzymes are believed to play a substantial role in combatting free radical damage that may contribute to the development of a wide range of medical conditions including eczema, heart disease, and cataracts, as well as lung, colon, and prostate cancers. In addition, certain selenium metabolites (byproducts and breakdown products of selenium metabolism) are believed to suppress the development of blood vessels that feed cancerous tumors, thus inhibiting their growth. Other selenoproteins help regulate thyroid and immune system function.
Poor selenium status and low dietary selenium have been linked to an increased incidence of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as cancer.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of selenium include: wheat germ, Brazil nuts, and whole grains.
Silicon is an essential trace mineral that is often overlooked despite the vital role it plays in strong bones, healthy skin, and flexible joints. Silicon is necessary for the normal development of connective tissues like bone and cartilage. In addition to the structural contributions it makes to the cartilage matrix, silicon acts as a regulating factor for the deposition of calcium and phosphorous in bone tissue. Studies indicate that silicon supplementation may play a very important role in maintaing bone mineralization in post-menopausal women.
In addition to sturdy connective tissue and robust bones, several other health promoting properties may also be attributed to silicon, including protection against aluminum toxicity and Alzheimerʼs disease. In fact, research indicates that higher levels of silica in local drinking water decrease the risk of dementia in general. In addition, silicon decreases the leakiness of arterial walls and makes them less vulnerable to plaque formation. Silicon is also important for optimal collagen synthesis, which translates to better skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles. Because silicon is absolutely vital for good nail health, the first noticeable sign of deficiency is often soft nails that break easily.
Fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, oats, and wheat bran have a high silicon concentration. Over time, a diet that includes a limited supply of fiber-rich foods is likely to lead to deficiency.
Sodium acts in concert with potassium to maintain proper total fluid volume, intra- and extracellular fluid distribution, and blood pressure. Sodium is also integral to correct acid-base balance as well as nerve transmission and muscle contraction. The most common dietary form of sodium, sodium chloride or table salt, occurs naturally in an abundance of whole foods, with excessive amounts often found in processed foods. Most people consume far more sodium than is physiologically required; a tendency which, over time, may cause harmful effects on calcium status, blood pressure and general health. Since high concentrations of sodium may be lost in perspiration, sodium supplementation may be needed during hard labor or intensive athletic participation on hot days.
Starches are digestible, complex carbohydrates found in abundance in foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and corn. (see also Carbohydrates.)
Sulfur is found in the amino acids cysteine and methionine, as well as all polypeptides, proteins, and enzymes containing these amino acids. Glutathione, the most abundant naturally occurring antioxidant in the body is a sulfur-containing tripeptide, and many important enzymes crucial to life contain sulfur, including coenzyme A and alpha lipoic acid. Likewise, the sulfur bonds in peptide chains are very important to the three-dimensional structures of various proteins. The strong covalent bonds between sulfur groups lend remarkable strength and resiliency to various protein structures, including hair.
Though the mechanism of action is not well understood, sulfur is both antiinflammatory and antibacterial, attributes recognized in traditional medicine where topical sulfur creams and ointments were used to treat various skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema and acne.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of sulfur include: kale, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, cranberries, meat, fish, egg yolks, onions, garlic.
Thiamin (B1) was the first B vitamin described and, like all other B vitamins, it is water-soluble and plays a crucial role in energy production and carbohydrate metabolism. Thiamin also functions in maintaining heart muscle, nerve, and nervous system health.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of thiamin include: soy beans, brown rice, sunflower seeds, nuts, liver, brewerʼs yeast, and wheat germ.
Factors that increase thiamin requirements or deplete thiamin stores include:Alcohol, coffee, and sulfites; alcoholism; stress; severe morning sickness with excessive vomiting. Athletes and very active people may have higher thiamin requirements than sedentary individuals due to increased levels of energy production.
Symptoms of thiamin deficiency may include: Vitamin B1 deficiency, also known as “beiberi”, is characterized by nervous symptoms that include sensory disturbances, muscle weakness, and impaired memory, as well as cardiac manifestations causing shortness of breath, palpitations, and heart failure. Wernickeʼs syndrome is a serious complication of thiamin deficiency caused by alcoholism that may cause impaired muscle coordination, impaired ability to move the eyes, and marked confusion. Untreated Wernickeʼs syndrome may eventually lead to Korsakoffʼs psychosis, a chronic disorder in which memory and learning are severely and progressively impaired.
Tocopherols along with tocotrienols, compose the vitamin E family. Natural tocopherols exist in four different chemical structures, or isomers, all of which have been shown to demonstrate antioxidant activity. In ongoing research, certain tocopherol isomers show promise in cancer treatment and cholesterol control, benefits that may exceed those conferred by the more commonly used synthetic alpha-tocopherols. Natural tocopherols are found in highest concentrations in vegetable oils.
Tocotrienols, along with tocopherols, compose the vitamin E family. Natural tocotrienols exist in four different chemical structures, or isomers, all of which have been shown to demonstrate antioxidant activity. Tocotrienols are most concentrated in cereal grains, with the highest levels found in crude palm oil.
Turmeric is an herb and spice indigenous to India and parts of Southeast Asia. A powerful antioxidant and antiinflammatory agent, turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic traditions as an antiseptic for cuts and burns as well as an analgesic for these and other injuries including sprains, fractures and contusions, as well as headaches, snake bites, insect stings, and arthritis.
Its popular historical use as a digestive tonic was widespread throughout Japan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh where teas made from turmeric were used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal conditions ranging from dyspepsia and gastric ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome. Acne Inversa, an incurable and disfiguring skin disease, is purportedly improved by treatment with tumeric powder. Turmeric is also reputed to help alleviate symptoms of asthma, coughing, snoring, and hiccoughs. Many of turmericʼs traditional uses are now supported by scientific evidence.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a non-flavonoid polyphenol currently under investigation as a possible adjunctive treatment for Alzheimerʼs disease, cancer, and hepatic dysfunction. There is evidence that curcmin inhibits the activity of certain proteins that may trigger breast cancer. Recent data also indicate that curcumin has a number of cardioprotective attributes, including the capacity to help lower cholesterol and prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation, platelet aggregation, and blood clot formation.
Ubiquinol is the active form of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the most powerful fat- soluble antioxidant produced by the body. Although CoQ10 is probably best known for protecting cells and tissues from oxidative stress and free radical damage, CoQ10’s primary function is actually as a cofactor integral to intracellular energy production. Stores of CoQ10 fall rapidly after age 20 when supplementation may be necessary to maintain optimal blood and tissue levels.
In addition to combating free radicals and maintaining optimal energy levels, supplementation of Coenzyme Q10 has been found useful in the treatment of several medical conditions including hypertension, congestive heart failure, certain forms of cancer, migraine headache, cardiac arrest, and a number of rare but serious metabolic disorders involving mitochondrial function. A recent study found that supplementing with CoQ10 helped combat unexplained, chronic fatigue in 69% of study participants. In other work, CoQ10 shows promise as neuroprotective agent in the treatment of conditions including Parkinson's and Huntingtonʼs disease.
Vanadium is a trace element believed to increase insulin sensitivity. It is commonly found in black pepper, shellfish, mushrooms, dill seed, parsley, soy, corn, olives, olive oil, and gelatin.
Vitamins are naturally-occurring, organic micronutrients that are required for life- sustaining processes. Only substances that cannot be synthesized by the organism in adequate quantities for normal physiological function can be classified as vitamins. Hence, all vitamins must be consumed as part of a balanced diet or taken as supplements. Vitamins have diverse physiological functions; they can act as hormones (vitamin D), antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), and mediators of cell signaling (vitamin A). The B complex vitamins function mainly as cofactors, non-protein substances that bind to protein enzymes and are required for the enzyme's biological activity.
Vitamin A or retinol is a general term used to describe a group of naturally occurring antioxidant compounds known as retinoids. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and, as many are aware, is essential for retinal health and normal vision. Vitamin A also plays a crucial role in collagen formation and the growth and repair of many different tissues including cartilage, skin, bones, and teeth. Adequate Vitamin A is also important for a properly functioning immune system.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of containing the highest concentrations of vitamin A include: liver, milk, egg yolks, cod, halibut, and kidney beans.
Factors that increase vitamin A requirements or deplete vitamin A stores include: alcohol, coffee, iron supplementation, strenuous exercise, growth spurts, pregnancy, lactation, and infection.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency may include: difficulty seeing in dim light, dry eye, decreased sense of taste, and poor wound healing. Chronic vitamin A deficiency may lead to blindness.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble, antioxidant vitamin. Humans are among a small handful of mammals that lack the physiological machinery to produce vitamin C. Because it is water-soluble, vitamin C cannot be stored in the body and it must be consumed on a daily basis in order to ensure optimal amounts are available for a myriad of physiological functions ranging from immune system support to collagen formation. Vitamin C is also necessary for normal wound healing, iron absorption, gum health, and tooth formation, as well as strong bones and robust blood vessels. Higher levels of vitamin C have been linked to a reduced risk of viral infection, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, asthma symptoms, varicose veins, and some forms of cancer.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of vitamin C include: guava, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwis, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and peppers.
Factors that increase vitamin C requirements or deplete vitamin C stores include: smoking, prolonged physical or mental stress
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency may include: easy bruising, bleeding gums, lethargy, general malaise, and frequent viral infections.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can either be obtained in fortified foods and supplements or synthesized in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight. The vast majority of Americans do not receive adequate sun exposure to produce and maintain healthy levels of vitamin D, especially during the cooler months. Aside from its long- recognized role in calcium and phosphorous absorption for healthy bone formation, an explosion of recent research has drawn attention to the many heretofore unrecognized health risks of vitamin D deficiency-- including weight gain, obesity, and an increased risk of heart attack, cancer, mood disorders, hypertension, and viral infection. Many health experts now recommend taking 1,000 IUs of vitamin D daily. In choosing a supplement, always opt for vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol (as opposed to D2) for better absorption and optimal potency.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of vitamin D include: salmon and other cold water fish, fortified cereals.
Factors that increase vitamin D requirements or deplete vitamin D stores include: many prescription drugs especially antibiotics, steroids, anti-seizure medications, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Being obese, or suffering kidney, liver, or bowel disease increases the risk of deficiency. Also, having dark skin, wearing sunscreen, living north of the 40th parallel, and/or getting less than 15 minutes of direct sun exposure every day.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include: muscle pain, low energy, constant fatigue, frequent illness, depression or mood swings, and irregular sleeping patterns. Severe deficiency may cause rickets and growth retardation in children; adults with prolonged vitamin D deficiency may experience bone demineralization, bone pain, and fractures.
Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins best known for their ability to neutralize free radicals generated by normal metabolic processes. Vitamin E also combats oxidative damage caused by many environmental toxins ranging from heavy metals, prescription drugs, and pollution to UV radiation responsible for accelerated skin aging. Optimal levels of vitamin E have been associated with decreased risk for heart attack, stroke, blood clots, coronary artery disease, colon cancer, and cataracts. Recent evidence indicates that vitamin E may play a protective role against the development of age-related dementia and may actually slow the neurodegenerative changes associated with several different forms including Alzheimerʼs and Parkinsonʼs.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of vitamin E include: wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds.
Factors that increase vitamin E requirements or deplete vitamin E stores include:
Drug and alcohol abuse; liver, gallbladder or pancreatic disease, cystic fibrosis, hyperthyroidism, and celiac disease; chronic physical or emotional stress.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency may include: Overt symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are rarely observed except in cases of severe malnutrition or disease processes that interfere with vitamin E absorption. Individuals who develop malabsorption of vitamin E in adulthood may eventually develop neurological symptoms.
Water is vital to organic life. About 70% of the human body is comprised of water. All the chemical processes and reactions that allow us to move, breath, think, and otherwise function as living organisms occur within an aqueous medium. Moreover, water aids with the systemic treatment and elimination of metabolic waste products.
Adequate fluid intake is especially important to active individuals seeking to improve body composition, enhance performance, or simply maximize training results. Proper hydration leads to enhanced thermoregulation and increased oxygen exchange in the lungs. Hence, the well hydrated individual will have a more comfortable and effective workout. In addition, water is also an excellent diuretic. Not only will high fluid intake increase urination, it will also decrease overall water retention and bloat. Since we do not feel thirsty until we are already in a dehydrated state, it is best to drink water in sufficient amounts and with sufficient frequency to prevent rather than quench thirst. If you do nothing beyond increasing the amount of water you drink every day, you will likely notice more radiant skin, increased energy, enhanced mental focus, and greater stamina during physical exertion.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is integral to over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Zinc is a necessary component of proper immune function and wound repair, insulin activity, fertility, as well as prostate, skin, and retinal health. It plays a crucial role in cell division where it is required for protein and DNA synthesis. As a cofactor in enzymatic reactions, zinc is involved in energy production and the normal metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Supplemental zinc has been experimentally shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms in adults. Because zinc decreases the bodyʼs ability to utilize the essential mineral copper, zinc supplementation should always be accompanied by supplemental copper.
Marginal zinc deficiency is believed to be very common. Optimal levels of zinc may ameliorate skin conditions like acne and eczema, as well as prostate dysfunction.
Foods containing the highest concentrations of zinc include: oysters, eggs, meat, pumpkin seeds, seafood, black-eyed peas, tofu, and nuts.
Factors that increase zinc requirements or deplete zinc stores include: alcohol and alcoholism; pregnancy and lactation; vegetarian and vegan diets; oral contraceptives; Downʼs syndrome; malabsorptive disorders, sickle cell anemia, and chronic renal disease.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency may include: poor wound healing, frequent illness, hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue, infertility, impaired sense of taste and smell, night blindness, white spots under fingernails, dermatitis, and sleep disturbances. Children with too little zinc may have stunted growth and mental development as well as delayed sexual maturity.