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Other Nutritional Supplements

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Many other supplements on the market today do not fit into the category of vitamin or mineral. Enzymes, probiotics, green food supplements, essential fatty acids, bee products and lecithin are among the other supplements discusse.

Many other supplements on the market today do not fit into the category of vitamin or mineral. Enzymes, probiotics, green food supplements, essential fatty acids, bee products and lecithin are among the other supplements discussed. As more nutrients are discovered, more supplements appear on the market

Accessory Nutrients

Accessory nutrients like bioflavonoids, choline, inositol, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and PABA are often included in the vitamin group, even though they are technically not vitamins. Amino sugars like glucosamine and phospholipids such as lecithin, phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine are other categories which can be considered accessory nutrients.

Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids are flavonoids, a group of water-soluble nutrients which give many fruits and vegetables their color. While they are not considered essential and are technically not vitamins, they perform many important functions and are similar in action to vitamin C. Bioflavonoids strengthen capillaries and regulate their permeability to prevent allergies, ease bruising and reduce inflammation. They also possess anticancer and antiviral properties.

There are a variety of bioflavonoids available, including quercetin, rutin, hesperidin and other citrus bioflavonoids. Quercetin is the most popular and active source. Aside from being a potent antioxidant, it is also used to reduce complications arising from diabetes, such as diabetic cataracts, neuropathy and retinopathy.

Rutin is beneficial to pregnant women who become vulnerable to varicose veins, hemorrhoids or gingivitis, due to the added nutritional needs of the fetus. Bioflavonoids are often recommended with vitamin C, because the two enhance each other's activity.

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an essential nutrient (especially for those over the age of thirty-five) in the production of energy within each body cell. Its main role as a supplement has been as an antioxidant, especially in preventing and treating arteriosclerosis and heart disease. Coenzyme Q10 is also used in cancer protection and to enhance energy and performance in athletes. This coenzyme works together with vitamin E and other antioxidants. Coenzyme Q10 is available in capsules and tablets.

Glucosamine and Glycosaminoglycan

Glucosamines are amino sugars, molecules derived from amino acids and sugar. Naturally found in the body, glucosamine works to provide the joints with glycosaminoglycan, a substance which is essential in restoring damaged cartilage and reducing inflammation. With age, the body's natural supply of glucosamine is depleted, leading to a susceptibility for arthritis and other joint problems. Young athletes under connective tissue stress also use up a high level of amino sugars. As a supplement, glucosamine's principal use has been in the treatment of osteoarthritis, not only to ease pain and inflammation, but to help the body rebuild damaged cartilage.

The two main sources of glucosamine are glucosamine sulphate and N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG). Other sources of glucosamine are chondroitin sulphate, shark cartilage and green-lipped mussel. A Japanese medical study showed that chondroitin sulphate helped reduce cholesterol levels, however. As an anti-inflammatory, it has also shown beneficial effects in the treatment of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Chondroitin sulphate is made from calf trachea and products made from dehydrated seaweed or Irish moss contain only minimal amounts of this nutrient.

Inositol

Inositol is closely linked to choline. Both are major constituents of lecithin and each is necessary for nerve transmission, as well as normal brain function. Inositol is also an important constituent of cell membranes and works together with a number of other B vitamins.

Although it is not an essential vitamin, inositol together with choline is used to treat arteriosclerosis, fatty liver problems and related disorders. Inositol is also used in the treatment of diabetes-related nerve problems. As a supplement it is available as inositol monophosphate.

Lignans and Isoflavones

Lignans are hormone-like substances that help prevent cancers of the breast, prostate or uterus. They are essential for the body's production of a protein that cleans unneeded sex hormones from the bloodstream. This lowers the risk for these cancers.

Like lignans, isoflavones work to prevent certain cancers. Lignans and isoflavones also work against prostate, uterus and breast cancers by blocking the formation of cancer growth at these organ sites. Lignans and isoflavones also have a therapeutic effect on other degenerative diseases such as diabetes or arthritis.

Lignans are produced in the intestine in the presence of vegetables, nuts and seeds and their unrefined, cold-pressed oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, almond oil, walnut oil and flax seed oil. Lignans are also produced from whole rye sourdough bread. Isoflavones are produced in the body from a substance contained in soy beans.

Lipoic Acid (Thioctic Acid)

Lipoic acid is another natural substance in the body which plays an essential role in a cell's production of energy. Normally, the body produces some of its own lipoic acid and absorbs the rest from food. Recently, however, lipoic acid has gained interest as a supplement for diabetics who benefit from its key role in the metabolism of sugars, as well as from its powerful antioxidant effects. Studies suggest that lipoic acid can prevent and treat nerve damage (neuropathy) associated with diabetes. Lipoic acid is well absorbed and is available in either capsules or tablets.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid like beta-carotene and is derived from tomatoes. It has low or no vitamin A activity which makes it a significantly more powerful antioxidant, without the fear of vitamin A toxicity. It works to protect against aging. Its anticancer effects are also stronger than beta-carotene.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)

PABA is a nutrient which works in conjunction with several other vitamins in the B group, although it is not considered to be essential to the body. It is actually a constituent of another vitamin, folic acid. PABA is best known for its topical use as a sunscreen and to treat various skin conditions, especially vitiligo, as well as grey hair, digestive disorders, nervousness and depression. Many people are sensitive to PABA in sunscreens.

Athletic Supplements

Athletes need proper supplementation to keep energy levels high and avoid sports injuries. The essential nutrients should be considered first, and then apply special emphasis to the antioxidant family, including calcium ascorbate (buffered vitamin C), natural vitamin E, zinc and selenium.

There are, of course, other supplements that are beneficial to athletes, but these are the main ones, in addition to chromium picolinate, l-glutamine, l-carnitine, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and phosphatidylserine, also mentioned in this section.

Creatine

Creatine has become the most popular supplement used by athletes today. It is our body's natural energy supply for the muscles and is formed from amino acids manufactured in the liver. Although creatine can be supplied by eating meat and fish, athletes require a higher concentration which is more readily available in creatine supplements. Creatine builds lean body mass, provides energy for longer duration and speeds recovery time.

Ephedrine

Ephedrine works to reduce body fat levels. It is most beneficial when used in proper ratio combination with caffeine and willow bark, working synergistically to turn calories into heat instead of storing them as fat. The combination can also increase strength and focus. However, it is not a "quick fix" to weight loss or cellulite reduction; it will only be effective if used in conjunction with proper nutrition and exercise.

Ion-exchanged Whey Peptides

Ion-exchanged whey peptides, or whey protein, is a protein that has a high biological value (i.e., it has more usable amounts of amino acids than other protein). Its concentration of essential amino acids is higher (up to fifty percent) and half of those aminos are branched-chain aminos which preserve muscle. Whey peptides boost the immune system which is burdened by intense exercise, and also increases levels of glutathione. The amount of whey peptides needed as supplementation depends on how much quality protein is consumed from the diet.

Reduced L-Glutathione

Glutathione is comprised of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Reduced glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and is used to fight degenerative diseases and aging. However, because intense exercise depletes the body's natural level of glutathione, athletes are wise to restore it with supplementation. When supplementing with glutathione, it should be the reduced form because it has extra electrons that can quench free radicals; oxidized glutathione has already donated its electrons. Glutathione levels are enhanced by vitamin C and N-acetyl-cysteine.

Bee Products

Pollen

Pollen contains nearly all the nutrients required by humans. It is particularly rich in easily-assimilated amino acids and vitamin B12. Its remarkable properties, however, are not fully explained by its known nutrients. It improves endurance, promotes longevity, aids recovery from chronic illnesses and helps prevent some diseases. It is a remedy for hay fever and allergies. A teaspoon of pollen takes one bee approximately one month to gather if it works eight hours a day.

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is made by nurse bees from pollen mixed with glandular excretions. Bees that are nursing their young produce royal jelly by chewing pollen. Royal jelly is much more potent than pollen and has a strong effect on the reproductive systems of men and women. Royal jelly can help treat extreme nutritional deficiencies and wasting diseases.

Propolis

Propolis is sometimes referred to as bee glue because bees will collect it, bring it back to the hive, mix it with wax flakes they secrete and use it to repair holes in the hive. It is the strongest natural antibiotic and disinfectant known. Not only is propolis antibiotic, but also antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antiviral. A strong support for the immune system, propolis is used widely, including cases of cancer, urinary infections, throat swelling, gout, open wounds, sinus congestion, colds, flus, bronchitis, gastritis and circulatory disorders.

Enzymes

Enzymes are energized protein molecules-the "sparks of life" needed for every biological process. They are not present in cooked food since they are destroyed at 118?47? The body manufactures hundreds of various enzymes from proteins and nutrients in foods. Enzymes are also provided by the raw foods we eat which can aid digestion.

The best source of enzymes is raw foods, but they can be taken as supplements, including live green powders such as barley green blended with juice or water, when eating cooked or processed foods.

Take enzymes just before meals to aid digestion. Taken between meals on an empty stomach, they reduce inflammation and pain. For proper function, enzymes require the presence of adequate coenzymes; vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

Three types of enzymes that can be taken as supplements are plant, pancreatic and antioxidant enzymes.

Plant Enzymes

Protease, lipase and amylase, taken with food, aid digestion in the stomach and the intestine. When taken on an empty stomach, they reduce inflammation, assist immune function and help enzymes to digest bacteria, toxins and partly digested proteins. Two popular enzymes are papain (with anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties) and bromelain (with anti-inflammatory properties and which aids painful menstrual bleeding). These enzymes help the stomach digest proteins and they occur naturally in papaya and pineapple.

Pancreatic Enzymes

Pancreatin is an enzyme derived from animal pancreas. It works only in the small intestine. Taken with food, it aids in the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and can stop adverse food reactions. Taken on an empty stomach, it reduces inflammation and pain.

Antioxidant Enzymes

Found naturally in sprouts, antioxidant enzymes have such names as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and methionine reductase. They stop the damage caused by free radicals by converting them to harmless oxygen and water.

Essential Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are the building blocks for fats, two of which are as essential to the body as vitamins and minerals. Omega-6 linoleic and omega-3 alpha-linolenic acids are the two essential fatty acids the body cannot manufacture, and these need to be obtained from food or supplements. Many people do not obtain adequate amounts of essential fatty acids from their diet, especially omega-3.

Essential fatty acid supplements are used to treat and prevent a variety of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, PMS, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory, hormonal, heart and circulatory disorders. The supplements available are mainly the omega-6 essential fatty acids, including evening primrose oil, borage and black currant oils, of which evening primrose oil is the most popular.

It is important to get a balance of the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Flax seed oil and fish oils are excellent sources of the omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flax seed oil is available in capsules, but it is much easier to use in its liquid form due to the number of capsules needed to obtain a daily dose.

Green Food Supplements

Among the green food supplements are the microalgae-spirulina, chlorella and wild blue-green algae-and the cereal grasses, wheatgrass and barley grass. Green foods supplements have become popular for their high nutrient composition and especially their rich chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is the substance that makes plants green, but in the body, it detoxifies, deodorizes and soothes inflammation. Chlorophyll also builds blood supply, activates enzymes and renews tissue. Besides chlorophyll, most green foods are rich in beta-carotene, protein and nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) for cell renewal.

These products are usually available freeze-dried in tablets or capsules, or as drinks.

Microalgae

As substances from the sea, microalgae were among the first life forms on earth. Spirulina is highly digestible with a mild detoxifying action and contains many essential nutrients. Chlorella is similar, but contains the most chlorophyll of the green foods. It also contains more nucleic acids and a few less nutrients. Wild blue-green algae is the most detoxifying of the microalgae.

Cereal Grasses

The cereal grasses are also an excellent source of chlorophyll and other nutrients, including many additional enzymes. Some of these enzymes aid digestion, while others work as antioxidants, protecting the body from free-radical damage. Wheatgrass and barley grasses are very similar, with barley grass being slightly easier to digest. People who are allergic to wheat almost always tolerate the barley grass.

Hormone Supplements

DHEA

DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone in humans and other mammals. It is produced largely in the adrenal glands and plays a major role in boosting the immune system, stimulating testosterone, estrogen and other hormones, and influencing mood.

Scientists have known about DHEA for more than fifty years. Clinical studies have shown that sufferers of every major disease, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease, are deficient in DHEA. As we age, im-mune function declines and DHEA levels drop dramatically, leaving our bodies susceptible to disease.

Supplementation has provided significant positive results in many people. Studies indicate DHEA increases energy levels, enhances sex drive, improves immunity to disease, reduces the effects of stress, stimulates memory, decreases body fat and even slows down the aging process.

Melatonin

Melatonin is another naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, but is also found in plants and algae. Melatonin regulates the body's internal clock, which governs the ability to fall asleep. Research began in the late 1950s, but new studies are revealing additional effects of the hormone, including its anti-aging benefits. It also stimulates the immune system, alleviates depression and helps prevent or ease jet lag. Shift workers have found significant relief from insomnia, since melatonin resets the body's sleep-wake patterns. Further studies have indicated melatonin's antioxidant effects and its possible use in the treatment of cancer (breast cancer in particular), heart disease and high cholesterol. Women can supplement with melatonin to offset osteoporosis, PMS and use it as a form of birth control.

Natural melatonin production is greatly influenced by modern society and the influx of electromagnetic radiation from computers, television sets, microwaves, fluorescent lights and even air travel, all of which adversely affect the body's natural magnetic and hormonal rhythms. Melatonin supplements can help reverse the negative effects of environmental electromagnetic pollution and re-establish the body's natural hormonal balance. Melatonin is produced during our sleep in total darkness. It can be inhibited if even one light is turned on.

Phospholipids

Choline

Like the B vitamins, choline is a coenzyme needed for metabolism. Choline exists in all living cells, but is probably best known as a major part of lecithin, an emulsifier that keeps fats and cholesterol from clumping together in the blood. Besides this function, choline is vital for nerve transmission and brain function.

In the body, vitamin B12 works with folic acid and the amino acid methionine to produce choline. While it is produced naturally, choline supplementation has become important in the treatment of mental illness and Alzheimer's, as well as fatty liver and cholesterol problems. As a supplement, choline is available as phosphatidylcholine in lecithin.

Lecithin

Lecithin is a phospholipid and supplies the body with choline and inositol. Lecithin emulsifies fat, breaking it down to smaller fat droplets. This action speeds and improves the digestion of fats by enzymes because the surface area is increased. Lecithin aids liver function, keeps the arterial lining free from cholesterol and prevents kidney and gallstones from forming.

Phosphatidylcholine

Phosphatidylcholine is the most active form of choline which is necessary for healthy neurological function and aids the liver, especially in cases of excessive alcohol or chemical intake. Supplementation with phosphatidylcholine can lower cholesterol levels or remove cholesterol from tissue deposits, and inhibit platelet aggregation. It has also been used to enhance memory and treat depression.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring phospholipid (a "good" fat) in the brain that keeps cell membranes healthy so that the cells can transmit chemicals and nerve impulses. While the body can produce this substance from essential fatty acids and vitamins, supplementation has been used to enhance mental function, especially in persons who are no longer producing this nutrient effectively. Phosphatidylserine supplements have been particularly useful in combating depression and Alzheimer's disease, and for improving mood and especially memory. Phosphatidylserine is a unique product derived from soy lecithin.

Proanthocyanidins

Proanthocyanidins are a group of nutrients belonging to the flavonoids. They share many similarities with bioflavonoids, strengthening the capillaries and collagen tissues to prevent and treat allergies, varicose veins and inflammation. These flavonoids are among the most powerful antioxidants available, preventing free-radical damage to cell structures.

Bilberry

Bilberry is a European strain of blueberry. The anthocyanins in bilberry prevent capillary fragility and inhibit platelet aggregation. It is a good anti-inflammatory because it stimulates the release of the vasodilator prostaglandin in vitro. Bilberry is used in conditions such as cataracts, retinitis, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract contains procyanidolic oligomers (PCO), or plant flavonoids. Grape seed extract is the only proanthocyanidin that has the gallic ester, the most potent free-radical scavengers. It is recommended for arthritis, bursitis, gum disease, heart disease and for improving athletic performance. It is often used as a replacement for those who are allergic to pine bark.

Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark extract is also a PCO, and is more commonly known by its trade name, Pycnogenol. It was the first source of PCO to be discovered. The properties of pine bark are so similar to grape seed extract that the extracts are often referred to interchangeably. Some people may have greater success with pine bark than with grape seed (or vice versa). This may be explained by the human body's individual differences at the molecular level, rather than a testament to the quality of one over the other.

Probiotics–The Friendly Intestinal Bacteria

Over the years, bacteria have earned a bad reputation because they are usually associated with disease. The fact is, without bacteria, the body would cease to function properly. Friendly intestinal bacteria exist in the digestive tract to maintain a healthy intestinal flora necessary for the proper digestion and assimilation of food. A healthy intestinal flora also prevents the growth of undesirable micro-organisms, including candida yeast overgrowth and bacteria that cause disease. The bacteria that support and enhance life are called probiotics.

Deficiencies of these friendly bacteria are not uncommon due to sickness, bad eating habits and antibiotic use. Fermented foods, including yogurt and cheese, provide some of these friendly bacteria, but probiotic supplements contain much greater amounts. For this reason, supplements are preferred to ensure adequate repopulation of friendly bacteria after antibiotic use, to treat candida or to treat an intestinal infection.

Probiotics work best when taken on a regular basis-to counteract the many adverse conditions we are subjected to (stress, inadequate diet, pollution). Since there are a great many products on the market, be sure to obtain one with a good reputation and always keep the supplements refrigerated, especially after opening.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus is the primary strain friendly bacteria in the body, found in the mouth, small and large intestines, and vagina. It enhances the breakdown of lactose (milk sugar) by producing the enzyme lactase. Acidophilus can reduce cholesterol levels and the proliferation of hostile yeasts like Candida albicans. It also destroys hostile bacteria by producing natural antibiotic substances.

Bifidobacterium bifidum

The bifidobacteria are the first to inhabit the intestines through the mother's milk. In adolescents and adults, bifidobacteria are the major component of the intestines, although they are also found in the vagina. As the body ages, or because of illness, bifidobacteria are depleted, so supplementation is important. Bifidobacteria prevent pathogenic bacteria and yeasts from flourishing in the intestines, and produce acetic and lactic acid, which keeps the pH at its optimum level. They also play a part in babies' weight gain, as well as produce B vitamins, and assist in the dietary management of liver conditions.

Enterococcus faecium

Faecium resides in the intestines and vagina, and can be found on skin, dust, plants and dairy products. Resistant to unfavorable environments, it survives despite acidity, temperature, salt, drying, and atmospheric oxygen. Faecium reduces vitamin deficiency, diarrhea and supports treatments for live impairment. It also inhibits the effects of E. coli, Salmonella and other bacteria in the intestines.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Rhamnosus is a transient bacteria in the intestine. In humans, it is found in the intestines and mouth. It is also found in milk, cheese and dairy products. Rhamnosus is a more recent discovery and is now known to be responsible for some of the benefits that were originally attributed to acidophilus. It is more resistant to bile salts, guards against gut permeability defects, provides the last chance for protein to be digested and prevents E. coli and other pathogens from attaching to the intestinal wall.

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