Nutrition Dictionary

ACIDOPHILUS: Acidophilus is a "friendly" strain of bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese. Although we are born without it, acidophilus soon establishes itself in our intestines and helps prevent intestinal infections. Acidophilus also flourishes in the vagina where it protects women against yeast infections.  They are living creatures, not chemicals, so they can sustain themselves in your body unless something comes along to damage them, such as antibiotics, chlorine in drinking water, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.  This friendly bacteria helps to enhance immunity and internally generate B vitamins in the body.  Taking acidophilus supplements or eating yogurt during (and after) using antibiotics will help restore the balance of natural bacteria in your digestive tract.

ALOE VERA: An herb that is often used to treat minor skin conditions, aloe vera or aloe gel is obtained from the inner layer of the leaf of the plant. Aloe is a moisturizing healer that has been proven to cure psoriasis.  Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that consists of dry red patches and scales that frequently occur on the scalp and behind the ears.  In one study, researchers showed that aloe cream applied to the skin, successfully treated psoriasis with no toxic effects.  Aloe may be taken in capsule or liquid form or applied to the skin as a gel.

AMINO ACID:  The building blocks from which proteins are made. Dietary amino acids are classified as essential or nonessential. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied in the diet or ill-health results.  They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The nonessential amino acids are also essential for health, but can be made in the body from the essential amino acids. Arginine, ornithine, cysteine, cystine, taurine and tyrosine are classified as nonessential amino acids.                            

ANTIOXIDANT: A compound that protects tissues from the damage caused by oxygen when it acts to produce free radicals.  Free radicals are molecules that have lost one of their electrons and become highly unbalanced.  In order to obtain the missing electron, they attack other molecules and modify their chemical structure.  This can create a chain reaction that in essence, causes our bodies to rust from the inside out.  Free radicals play a primary role in the aging process and contribute to degenerative diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Well known antioxidants are Vitamins C, A, E and Beta Carotene.

BETA CAROTENE: Beta carotene is a stronger antioxidant * than vitamin A.  The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. Your body will make only as much vitamin A from beta-carotene as you need. This built-in safety feature makes beta-carotene the best way to get your vitamin A.  Beta-carotene is found in high concentrations in yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots.

(*An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

BILBERRY:  The Bilberry herb contains active ingredients which affect proper eye function. Bilberries are particularly rich in the red pigment antioxidants which help maintain eye integrity, reduce their fragility and promote repair. 

BIOFLAVONOID:  Bioflavonoids are sometimes referred to as Vitamin P. They enhance the absorption of Vitamin C and these two should be taken together.  The human body cannot produce bioflavonoids.  They relieve the pain, bumps and bruises from athletic injuries, preserve the structure of blood vessels, and promote circulation. Citrus fruits are a good source. 

BIOTIN (Vitamin H):  One of the B vitamins.  It assists in the making of fatty acids and body growth and in the burning of carbohydrates and fats for body heat and energy. It is also essential for the function of red blood cells.  It is found in large quantities in liver, egg yolk, milk, and yeast. Biotin supplements can promote healthy nails and hair, and can assist hair growth. 

BLACK COHOSH:  An herb originally found in the northeastern United States. Native Americans used it primarily for women*s health problems, but also as a treatment for arthritis, fatigue, and snakebite. Its current use is to relieve the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats.

BORON: A mineral that may play a role in maintaining strong bones and affecting calcium and magnesium metabolism. Boron slows the loss of these minerals through urination. It may be helpful for arthritis and osteoporosis (fragile bones). 

BROMELAIN: Bromelain is not actually a single substance, but rather a collection of protein-digesting enzymes found in pineapple juice and in the stem of pineapple plants. It is a proteolytic (protein digesting) enzyme.

BUTCHER'S BROOM: This herb has been made in capsule or tablet form to treat circulatory problems of the legs and as an ointment or suppository to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. 

CALCIUM: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium also helps maintain a regular heartbeat and the transmission of nerve impulses.  In combination with Vitamin D, it can help prevent the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.  Calcium is more effective when taken in smaller doses spread throughout the day. When taken at night it can help promote a sound sleep.

CHAMOMILE: Chamomile herb tea is widely used as a remedy to soothe pains in the digestive tract and to help insomnia and anxiety.  Chamomile cream is used in inflammatory skin diseases and wound healing.

CHLORELLA: Chlorella is a green, single celled algae that has been at the base of the planetary food chain for billions of years. It is the world's highest source of chlorophyll, which can speed the cleansing of the bloodstream.  An excellent source of Vitamin A and minerals. 

CHOLINE: Choline is considered to be one of the B complex vitamins.  It is essential for the metabolism of fats in the body, and can be helpful for high cholesterol. Choline prevents the deposition of fats in the liver.  Choline, and another B vitamin Inositol, are found in lecithin -- a substance found in brain and nerve tissue. 

COD LIVER OIL: A pale-yellow oil extracted from the fresh livers of the codfish and other related species. A rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A and D and essential fatty acids.  Eating fish and/or taking fish oil supplements is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 is a special type of fat that he body cannot make by itself and is as vital to the health as vitamins.

COENZYME Q-10 (Ubiquinone):  Coenzyme Q-10 is a powerful antioxidant* discovered by researchers at the University of Wisconsin in 1957. The name of this supplement comes from the word ubiquitous, which means "found everywhere." It is found in every cell in the body.  Today, it is widely used for heart conditions and is also used to treat periodontal (gum) disease. 

(*An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

COLLAGEN: A protein in connective tissue and is also found in teeth and bones.

CRANBERRY: The American cranberry has been shown to provide an undesirable growth medium for bacteria in the urinary tract.   Cranberry appears to inhibit the ability of bacteria to adhere to the cell wall that lines the urinary tract and can be effective against urinary infections. 

DIGESTIVE AIDS AND ENZYMES:  These help promote intestinal health.  Proper digestion can reduce heartburn problems, diminish food allergies, reduce gas, and increase overall energy. When taken in between meals, enzymes also seem to help bruises and other traumas heal faster, which has made them popular in Europe as a treatment for sports injuries.  Protease and papain digest protein.  Amylase digests starches and carbohydrates.  Lipase and Bromelain digest fats.  Lactase digests dairy products.

DNA: (deoxyribonucleic acid) The complex protein that forms genes and chromosomes.  A chromosome is a threadlike linear strand of DNA in the nucleus of animal and plant cells that carries the genes, and functions as a unit of hereditary information.

DSHEA: DSHEA stands for the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which is a bill passed by Congress in 1994. It recognizes the valuable role nutritional supplements play in promoting health and opens the way for consumers to obtain the information they need to make the best dietary health choices.

ECHINACEA: A popular herb that can help recovery from colds and the flu and it assists proper immune function.

ENZYME:  A protein in the body that can initiate and accelerate chemical reactions.

FIBER: The indigestible portion of foods which has many important functions for maintaining health such as lowering cholesterol.  It is also known as a remedy for constipation and diarrhea.

FISH OIL:  Fish oil can help to prevent heart problems. Fish oil appears to raise *good* cholesterol, "thin" the blood, and may be helpful in psoriasis (a skin disease characterized by dry red patches).  Regular use of fish oil may reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. The essential fatty acids in fish oil may also help prevent osteoporosis (fragile bones) when taken along with calcium.

FLAXSEED OIL:  Is derived from the hard, tiny seeds of the flax plant. Flaxseed oil contains a type of fat your body needs as much as it needs vitamins (Omega 3 fatty acid). Flaxseed oil or whole flaxseed may reduce bad cholesterol and perhaps help with high blood pressure (hypertension). Flaxseed oil also contains another important group of chemicals, lignans, which are being studied for use in preventing cancer.

FOLIC ACID:  A B-complex vitamin that functions along with vitamin B-12 and vitamin C in the utilization of proteins. It has an essential role in the formation of red blood cells.  Folic acid is essential during pregnancy to prevent certain kinds of defects in the developing fetus.

FREE RADICAL:  These are highly reactive, damaging molecules in the body that have lost one of their electrons and become unbalanced.  In order to obtain the missing electron, they attack other molecules and modify their chemical structure.  This can create a chain reaction that in essence causes our bodies to rust from the inside out.  In essence, it is a form of oxidation where oxygen has combined with other substances to create a harmful shortage of electrons.

Free radicals play a major role in the aging process, including our skin, and they contribute to many degenerative diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Free radicals come from pollution, smoke, overexposure to the sun, medications and drugs, infection, stress, toxic chemicals, a poor diet, and also as a byproduct of normal metabolism.  Antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, and A, Beta Carotene, and Gingko Biloba can help to defend the body against free radicals and repair the damage.

GARLIC:  In Europe, garlic has come to be seen as an all-around treatment for preventing the cause of heart disease and strokes. Garlic also appears to improve hypertension (high blood pressure) and protect against free radicals -- highly reactive molecules that cause damage to our cells. Applying garlic directly to a wound has traditionally been done to prevent infection. 

GINKGO BILOBA: An herb and antioxidant* that has been used in Chinese medicine for 5000 years to address the health of the brain and respiratory tract. German physicians consider it to be as effective as any drug treatment for Alzheimer*s disease and other severe forms of memory and mental function decline.  Ginkgo extracts can improve overall circulation, and also the impotence that is caused by poor circulation.  Ginkgo can increase pain-free walking distance.

GINSENG: Ginseng is an herb that has been used for strengthening immunity against colds and flus and other infections, stimulating the mind, helping to control diabetes, and improving sports performance.

GLA (gamma-linolenic acid):  Is one of the two main types of essential fatty acids. These are "good" fats that are as necessary for your health as vitamins. Sources of GLA include Black Currant Seed Oil, Borage Oil, and Evening Primrose Oil.

GLUCOSAMINE: Supplements are derived from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. In Europe, glucosamine is widely used to treat osteoarthritis. Studies show that glucosamine supplements relieve pain and other arthritis symptoms. Interestingly, these improvements seem to last for several weeks after glucosamine supplements are discontinued.  Glucosamine appears to go beyond treating the symptoms to actually slowing the disease itself. 

GOLDENSEAL:  Goldenseal can be used as a topical for skin wounds, for mouth sores and sore throats (as a gargle), and may also be used as strong tea. Goldenseal tea can also be used as a douche for vaginal candidiasis.

GOTU KOLA: Gotu kola is an herb that could significantly improve symptoms of varicose veins, particularly overall discomfort, tiredness, and swelling.

GRAPE SEED EXTRACT:  Certain substances in grape seed extract appear to stabilize the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and generally support tissues containing collagen (a protein in connective tissue).It is a strong antioxidant*. Vitamin E defends against fat-soluble oxidants and vitamin C neutralizes water-soluble ones, but this substance is active against both types.

(*An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

GREEN TEA: This herb is used primarily for its free-radical scavenging capabilities. The key ingredient protects against digestive and respiratory infections. Historical uses of the tea are reducing high blood pressure, inhibiting bacteria that cause food poisoning and blocking the actions of carcinogens that can cause colon, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.

HAWTHORNE BERRY: Hawthorne is said to have a direct, favorable effect on the heart (for irregular heart beat, hypertension, congestive heart failure, etc.) as well as increasing nerve conductivity.

HERB:  Natural remedies derived from whole plants as well as from plant roots, leaves, seeds, stems and other parts. Herbs are still the basis for Chinese medicine and are important components of many European and American natural remedies.

HE SHO WU (also known as Fo Ti): Is widely used in China for the traditional purpose of restoring black hair (or natural hair color) and for enhancing hair growth and other signs of youth.  He sho wu is said to be useful for constipation.  It can reduce cholesterol and also improve symptoms of insomnia. 

HOMEOPATHY:  A system of medicine that stresses the administration of very small doses of treatments that, when given to a healthy person, would produce the symptoms of the disease. The system is based on the principal of "like cures like."

HORMONE: A chemical compound produced in one part or organ of the body that initiates or regulates the activity of an organ or a group of cells in another part of the body.  Examples are thyroid hormone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, growth hormone, etc.

HORSE CHESTNUT:  An herb that can help when blood collects and pools in the veins of the leg and causes aching, swelling, and a sense of heaviness.  Horse chestnut appears to reduce these symptoms and is also used for varicose veins. 

IMMUNE SYSTEM: A system of substances and organs that protect the body against disease and infection.

INSULIN: A protein hormone made by the pancreas that is essential especially for the metabolism of carbohydrates and is used in the treatment and control of diabetes.

IODINE:  An essential mineral that is an integral part of thyroid gland function. The thyroid gland, located just above the middle of the collarbone, needs iodine to make its hormones.  This gland controls the rate of metabolism and maintains normal metabolism in all cells. 

IRON:  As part of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells), iron plays an integral role in nourishing every cell in the body with oxygen.  Rich sources of iron include oysters, meat, poultry, fish and green leafy vegetables.

ISOFLAVONES: Are water-soluble chemicals found in many plants.  One group of isoflavones are known as phytoestrogens. They are so named because they cause effects in the body somewhat similar to those of estrogen and are used to remedy menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and depression. The most investigated natural isoflavones, genistein and daidzen, are found in soy products and in the herb red clover.

JOJOBA:  Jojoba Oil is excellent for moisturizing and nourishing the hair and skin. Jojoba Oil gives your hair extra protection and shine. Jojoba oil's collagen-like properties improve skin health. Applied directly to the skin, Jojoba Oil soothes sunburns and treats acne and psoriasis (a skin disease characterized by dry red patches).

KAVA KAVA ROOT:  Kava, a shrub which is a member of the pepper family, has traditionally been embraced for its relaxing effects.  It is helpful for insomnia, anxiety, and for general relaxation.

KELP:  Kelp usually refers to seaweed.  Many of the conditions which kelp is used for are attributed to the content of minerals, especially iodine.  Thyroid problems can be helped with kelp as it makes its hormones from iodine.

LICORICE:  A member of the pea family, licorice root has been used since ancient times both as food and as medicine. It was once a standard European treatment for ulcers. It is also used for heartburn. Creams containing whole licorice, often combined with chamomile extract, are used for eczema, psoriasis (a skin disease characterized by dry red patches) and herpes (eruptions of small skin blisters).

LUTEIN:  Lutein may play an important role in protecting our eyes and eyesight. It may work in two ways: by acting directly as a kind of natural sunblock, and also by neutralizing free radicals that can damage the eye. Green vegetables are the best source of lutein.

MAGNESIUM: Magnesium is an essential nutrient mineral, meaning that your body needs it for healthy functioning.  It is found in significant quantities throughout the body and is used for numerous purposes, including muscle relaxation, blood clotting, and the manufacture of the body's main energy molecule.  It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission.  Good sources of magnesium are kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews. blackstrap molasses, and many common fruits and vegetables.

METABOLISM:  The sum of all the chemical and physical changes that take place within the body that enable its continued growth and functioning.

METABOLITE:  A substance that takes part in the process of metabolism in the body.

MILK THISTLE:  Since ancient times, both the plant structures and seeds have been used to positively influence liver function and as a general tonic.

NUTRACEUTICAL: Foods or food-derived substances in extracted form that have desirable medicinal and health benefits. The term also may refer to a component that is extracted from a food, concentrated, and made into supplement form.

NUTRIENTS: Nutrients are substances essential to life that must be supplied by food.  The absence or deficiency of one these compounds may result in poor health or disease.  Nutrients include: protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Nutritionists advise that we eat a variety of foods from all food groups to ensure that our diet includes many beneficial compounds.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: One type of essential fatty acids, special fats that the body needs as much as it needs vitamins. (The other type is the omega-6 fatty acids). The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help with arthritis, heart disease and menstrual pain. It is important to consume several times more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids.  Fish, fish oil capsules, and flax oil are good sources.

OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS: Also known as GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).  Most commonly in the form of evening primrose oil, GLA has become a standard treatment for breast pain that occurs with the cycles of the menstrual period.  Evening primrose oil also appears to be effective for diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes. This condition, which develops in many people with diabetes, consists of pain and/or numbness due to progressive nerve damage.

OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes):  OPCs are extracted from the bark of the maritime pine and also from grape seed.  They appear to stabilize the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and generally support tissues containing collagen and elastin. Collagen is the protein material in bone, tendon, and other connective tissue.  Elastin is the protein material found in elastic tissues such as the walls of arteries. OPCs are also strong antioxidants*. Vitamin E defends against fat-soluble oxidants and vitamin C neutralizes water-soluble ones, but OPCs are active against both types.

(*An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

PABA (Para Aminobenzoic Acid): Part of the Vitamin B complex.  It is best known as the active ingredient in sunblock. This vitamin helps protect against sunburn and skin cancer.

PHOSPHORUS:  The second most abundant mineral in the body found in every living cell. It is involved in the proper functioning of both muscles and nerves. A balance of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous should be maintained.  Excessive amounts of phosphorous interferes with calcium absorption.  Soda pop and junk food can contribute to this.

PHYTOCHEMICALS (PHYTO = PLANT):  This term refers to the active components in plants that are thought to promote health and reduce the risk of disease.  These contain food components that affect body functions.  Broccoli contains some potent phytochemicals.

PHYTOESTROGENS:  Phyto = Plant.  Phyto + Estrogen = Plant Estrogen.  Phytoestrogens cause effects in the body somewhat similar to those of estrogen. The most potent types of phytoestrogens, which are found in soybeans and red clover blossoms, are isoflavones. These can help to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings, and may even offer protection against cardiovascular (heart) disease, osteoporosis, and cancer of the breast and uterus.

POTASSIUM: A mineral that is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium.  Potassium is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body.  Potassium and sodium work together like a molecular seesaw: when the level of one goes up, the other goes down. Bananas, orange juice, potatoes, avocados, and fish are good sources.

PROBIOTIC: Derived from the Greek word for "life." Probiotic refers to organisms and substances which contribute to intestinal health. They are beneficial or "friendly" intestinal bacteria.  Acidophilus is one of several helpful strains of bacteria. Probiotics literally mean "pro life," indicating that they are bacteria that help rather than harm.  In addition to acidophilus, there is L. bulgaricus, L. thermophilus, L. reuteri, S. bulgaricus, and B. bifidus.

PYRIDOXINE (Vitamin B-6):  Vitamin B-6 plays a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells). Because mild deficiency of vitamin B-6 is common, this is one vitamin that is worth taking. It can help prevent heart disease and reduce symptoms of morning sickness. This vitamin is also widely recommended for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and asthma.

QUERCETIN: Quercetin belongs to a class of water-soluble plant coloring agents called bioflavonoids.  Bioflavonoids help maintain the walls of small blood vessels.  They are found in many fruits and aid in the absorption and metabolism of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Quercetin might help protect against heart attacks and strokes and is often recommended as a treatment for allergies and asthma. 

RED CLOVER:  In the nineteenth century, red clover became popular among herbalists as a blood purifier. Recently, an Australian product made from red clover has been marketed as a treatment for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and osteoporosis (fragile bones). The herb contains high concentrations of four major estrogen-like substances found in plants called isoflavones. Red clover is sometimes recommended for the treatment of acne, eczema, psoriasis (a skin disease characterized by dry red patches), and other skin diseases.

RED RASPBERRY: Tea made from this herb is commonly recommended for pregnant women. It can inhibit uterine contractions during pregnancy by stabilizing the uterus.  It is good for  menstrual cramps and can decrease menstrual bleeding.

SAW PALMETTO:  An herb that is known for treating prostate enlargement and urinary problems in men.  The prostate is a chestnut sized gland in males located near the bladder.

SELENIUM:  Selenium is an essential trace mineral that our bodies use to produce an enzyme that serves as a natural antioxidant* in the fight against free radicals.  It has been shown to protect against prostate cancers, colon and rectal cancers, and lung cancers.  Selenium stimulates increased antibody response to germ infection.

(* An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

SOD (Superoxide Dismutase):  SOD is an antioxidant* that revitalizes the cells and reduces the rate of cell destruction.  It removes the most common free radical, super-oxide.  It is made within our body, but reduces as we age.

SOY: The soybean has been prized for centuries in Asia as a nutritious, high-protein food.  Soy is definitely effective at reducing total cholesterol.  Soy protein also seems to reduce the common menopausal symptom known as hot flashes and the risk of uterine cancer. The isoflavones (plant estrogens) in soy are very likely responsible for these benefits.  Isoflavones are powerful antioxidants. They can reduce the risk of cancer, in part, by preventing free radical damage to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the complex protein that forms genes and chromosomes.

SPIRULINA: Spirulina is an algae that represents a breakthrough in the production of food, producing twenty times the amount of protein as that of soybeans on an equal area. It contains concentrations of nutrients unlike any other single grain, herb or plant.  It contains essential fatty acids, Vitamin B-12, beta-carotene (which is used by our bodies to make Vitamin A), iron, protein and chlorophyll.  Spirulina aids in protecting the immune system, in mineral absorption, and in the reduction of cholesterol.    

ST. JOHN'S WORT: St. John's wort is one of the best-documented herbal treatments for depression.  It is also used for insomnia and anxiety when they are related to depression.  St. John's wort might interact with certain drugs, and should be used with your doctor*s advice.

TEA TREE OIL:  Tea tree oil is an effective antiseptic, active against bacteria and fungus.  It has a penetrating quality that makes it useful for treating infected wounds. Tea tree oil mouthwash is used as a daily preventive against gum disease. 

TRACE ELEMENT: Essential mineral that is essential to nutrition. Nutritionists like to call minerals either minerals or trace minerals, depending on the amount needed by the body.

VALERIAN ROOT: Valerian is a root that has been used since ancient Greek times for its relaxing, sedative effects. Valerian is commonly recommended as a mild treatment for insomnia. It appears to be more effective than herbs such as hops, skullcap and passionflower.

VITAMIN: A group of organic (developing naturally) micronutrients, present in minute quantities in natural foodstuffs, that are essential to normal metabolism and functioning of the body.

VITAMIN A: In general, beta-carotene supplements taken at nutritional doses are the safest way to get the vitamin A we need. Sometimes called "provitamin A," beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A as the body needs it, and presents no risk of toxicity.  Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that can prevent night blindness and other eye problems, we well as some skin disorders such as acne.  It enhances immunity and protects against colds and flu.  Vitamin A contributes to growth and to dental health in growing children.

B VITAMINS:  B vitamins are necessary for the health of the nervous system, for proper mental functioning, fine movement control, and many other processes. The B vitamins are interrelated.  B-complex, or multivitamins with B-complex, are more effective than B vitamins taken individually.  B vitamins, like vitamin C, are water soluble in your body. This means that they are not stored. Therefore, it is more effective to take them with meals, 3-4 times per day. Time release capsules are available from some suppliers. 

VITAMIN B-1:  B-1 can protect the nerve tissues against the effects of alcohol and many other harmful agents. It affects learning capacity and energy, and is needed for proper muscle tone of the stomach and heart.

VITAMIN B-2: Riboflavin supplements may offer benefits for migraine headaches and cataracts, a disorder of the lens of the eye.  Deficiency of B-2 may cause cracks and sores at the corner of the mouth or impaired thinking.  B-2 is a necessary nutrient for healthy skin and eyes.

VITAMIN B-3: B-3, also called Niacin, may lower cholesterol, reverse narrowing and hardening of the arteries, enhance memory, and inhibit recurrence of heart attack. Some people experience a skin flush with warm, reddish skin when first taking niacin. The  *niacin flush* response is not harmful and may be a sign of toxins being flushed out of the body.

VITAMIN B-5 (Pantothenic acid):  Known as the *anti-stress* vitamin.   Pantothenic acid plays a role in the production of the adrenal hormones. It is required by all cells in the body and is concentrated in the organs. It enhances stamina.

VITAMIN B-6: Vitamin B-6 plays a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells).  Without sufficient B-6, your body may not produce enough neurotransmitters, which are essential to optimum mental functioning.  Since B-6 is used in protein metabolism, a high-protein diet often causes an elevated need for B-6.  B-6 may help prevent heart disease and reduce symptoms of morning sickness. This vitamin is also widely recommended for premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

VITAMIN B-8 (Inositol):  Usually considered part of the vitamin B complex.  Inositol participates in the action of a neurotransmitter known to be a factor in depression . (neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells).  Inositol has been proposed as a treatment for depression and it may be helpful. Inositol plays a role in helping the liver process fats as well as contributing to the function of muscles and nerves. 

VITAMIN B-12(Cobalamin): Anemia is usually the first sign of B-12 deficiency.  Vegetarians may not get enough B-12 in their diets as Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal foods.  Some people have difficulty absorbing B-12 orally so it is also available in sublingual form and a nasal applicator. Vitamin B-12 can prevent nerve damage and maintain fertility.

VITAMIN C (Ascorbic acid): Although most animals can make vitamin C from scratch, humans have lost the ability. We must get it from food, chiefly fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C helps maintain blood vessels, bones and teeth.  Vitamin C can significantly reduce symptoms of colds and help you get over a cold faster. Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.  Vitamin C is destroyed by heat. 

VITAMIN D: Vitamin D is both a vitamin and a hormone. It*s a vitamin because your body cannot absorb calcium without it; it*s a hormone because your body manufactures it in response to your skin*s exposure to sunlight. The combination of calcium plus vitamin D can slow down or even reverse osteoporosis (fragile bones) and reduce the risk of fractures.  Vitamin D is necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. 

VITAMIN E: An essential fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant* that fights damaging natural substances known as free radicals.  It works in lipids (fats and oils), which makes it complementary to vitamin C, which fights free radicals dissolved in water. it can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and prostate and colon cancer. Vitamin E has also shown considerable promise for improving immunity, slowing the progression of Alzheimer*s disease, and improving male fertility.

(*An antioxidant can protect tissues from damage caused by oxygen or free radicals.  A free radical is an unstable molecule that attacks other molecules and plays a major role in the aging process and degenerative diseases.)

VITAMIN H (Biotin):  It assists in the making of fatty acids and body growth and in the burning of carbohydrates and fats for body heat and energy. It is also essential for function of red blood cells.  It is found in large quantities in liver, egg yolk, milk, and yeast.

VITAMIN K: Vitamin K is essential to blood clotting. Vitamin K was named after a Danish word: "koegulation." A healthy body manufactures its own K, and certain foods contain K. Vitamin K is also manufactured by bacteria in the intestines.  Long-term use of antibiotics can cause a vitamin K deficiency by killing these bacteria. Vitamin K plays a role in the formation of new bone and has been proven to be useful for osteoporosis (fragile bones).  It may also help nausea and excessive menstrual bleeding. Lettuce, broccoli, spinach and other dark greens are excellent sources of Vitamin K. 

ZINC:  An essential trace mineral. Taking zinc lozenges every 2 hours at the beginning of a cold can help one recover more quickly. Zinc is a component of male reproductive fluid. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system.  Zinc supplements: You should also take extra copper, calcium, and perhaps magnesium when taking zinc because zinc can increase the need for these minerals.
 

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  The nutrients and products discussed here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Site last updated 7/15/17.