We've all read the labels on the back of our supplements and wondered exactly what all the ingredients are for. You might know what the supplement itself does, but do you know how the individual ingredients effect your body?
This glossary also comes in very handy when you are evaluating nutritional supplements you may be interested in taking. We're constantly updating this page so check back whenever you're curious about a nutrient, supplement, or drug. The list is in alphabetical order but if you are using Internet Explorer you can click "Find (on this page)" under the "Edit" menu to search.
ActiVin A grape seed extract which acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Amino acids The building blocks from which proteins are made. Dietary amino acids are classified as essential or non-essential. Essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine) cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied in the diet or ill-health results. The non-essential amino acids are also essential for health, but can be synthesized in the body from the essential amino acids. Arginine, ornithine, cysteine, cystine, taurine and tyrosine are classified as non-essential amino acids but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. A suboptimal intake of the essential amino acids increases the body's need for the non-essential amino acids.
Androgen This term refers to the male sex hormones (testosterone, androsterone) or any agent that encourages the development of male sex characteristics.
Androstenedione A weak androgenic steroid secreted by the adrenal cortex, testes, and ovary. In normal males less than 5% of their testosterone comes from the conversion of adrenal androstenedione. Androstenedione is converted to testosterone by the enzyme 17-ketoreductase. Androstenedione and testosterone are converted to estrone and estradiol in peripheral tissues (primarily in adipose tissue but also in muscle, kidney, liver and the hypothalamus) by aromatase. The conversion of androstenedione and testosterone accounts for more than 75% of the estrogens in the plasma of normal men. The rest is synthesized in the testes. Gonadotropin secretion may be partially controlled by estrogen formation in the hypothalamus.
Antioxidants Nutrients that combat ever-present free radicals created through oxidation in the body. Free radicals are believed to contribute to a number of health problems.
Arthredฎ A patented form of hydrolyzed collagen protein (HCL), which forms the framework of human cartilage. The effectiveness of HCL in promoting healthy joints was demonstrated through $10 million in worldwide clinical trials.
ATP Adenosine Triphosphate - a compound consisting of the nucleotide adenosine attached through its ribose group to three phosphoric acid molecules. It serves to store energy in muscles which is released when it is hydrolyzed to adenosine diphosphate.
Beta-carotene A nutrient that is converted to Vitamin A by the body when needed. Contains antioxidant properties.
Bioperine A patented thermogenic nutrient; increases the bodys efficiency in the uptake of nutrients.
Biotin (Vitamin B) Essential for metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates.
Boron - A mineral that may play a role in maintaining strong bones, affecting calcium and magnesium metabolism and proper membrane function.
Calcium A mineral that helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, regulate heartbeat and muscle contractions, and ensure proper blood clotting. Adequate intake can help prevent or minimize osteoporosis.
Calories Measurement of the potential of food to supply energy. Carbohydrates The bodys principal source of energy. Simple carbohydrates come from sugars; complex carbohydrates come from starches and fiber. The body converts them to glucose, which is used to energize cells.
Carnitine An amino acid essential for the breakdown of fat into energy. Carnitine may improve the utilization of fats for energy and can be beneficial in conditions associated with impaired fat breakdown and energy production. Carnitine may be beneficial in heart disease, enhancing physical performance, Alzhiemers disease, diabetes, liver disease, and protection against drug toxicity.
Cholesterol Substance manufactured by the liver and other organs and consumed via animal fat. High-fat diets increase the amount made. It is believed that high levels lead to collection of cholesterol in the arteries, possibly leading to serious health risks.
Choline A nutrient that helps prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver; aids in the detoxification of metabolic wastes and toxins.
Chromium Mineral important in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats; helps build lean muscle tissue and regulate blood sugar levels.
CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring nutrient which scientists have discovered exerts a positive effect on protein and fat metabolism.
Coenzyme Q 10 Vital to energy production at the cellular level; used for endurance improvement. Supplementation may decrease fatigue, muscle weakness and obesity. Also recognized for its strong antioxidant properties.
Copper Mineral important in the formation of red blood cells; keeps bones, blood vessels, nerves and the immune system healthy.
Creatine monohydrate Maximizes the bodys level of stored creatine phosphate; results in increased peak athletic performance and shortened muscle recovery time.
DHEA Dehydroepiandrosterone - is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Primary function is to produce estrogen and testosterone.
Dietary fiber Consists of both soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (does not dissolve in water) fiber. Diets high in dietary fiber and low in fat may have a protective effect against many chronic illnesses, including heart disease and some cancers, and may reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Ephedrine A sympathetic nerve stimulant resembling adrenaline, its effect on the unstriped muscular fibres is remarkable. It acts promptly in relieving swellings of the mucous membrane. It has valuable antispasmodic properties, acts on the air passages and is of benefit in asthma and hay fever; it is also employed for rheumatism; a 5 to 10 per cent solution has mydriatic properties, prophylactically used for low blood pressure in influenza, pneumonia, etc. Used in tablet form for oral or hypodermic administration and in ampuls for hypodermic, intramuscular and intravenous use. It can advantageously be used in solution with liquid paraffin, either alone or in conjunction with methol camphor and oil of thyme. Dose, 1/2 to 1 grain.
Synonyms include Ephedra, and Ma Huang.
Fats Provide essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body. They transport fat-soluble vitamins and regulate blood cholesterol levels. Provide energy when the bodys carbohydrate level is depleted. Provide protection to vital organs. While fats are essential to the body, many people consume much more than necessary to remain healthy.
Folic acid Vitamin important in the synthesis of DNA, tissue growth and the production of red blood cells.
Functional food Food or food ingredient that has been shown to affect specific functions or systems in the body. Functional foods play an important role in disease prevention.
Gamma-linolenic acid Nutrient that increases the rate at which the body burns fat for energy; anti-inflammatory properties and other healthful benefits.
Ginseng An herb (Korean - Panax Ginseng) (Siberian - Eleutherococcus senticosus) (American - panax quinqefolium),. The most costly root, ginseng is a low-growing, shade-loving perennial herb of the Araliaceae family. It is cultivated in China, Japan, Korea and Russia and can be taken in capsule form or as a tea. The United States can also cultivate this root.
Glucosamine Glucosamine sulfate and n-acetyl glucosamine occur widely in the exoskeleton of arthropods and crustaceans as their biopolymer, chitin. Glucosamine is also a basic constituent of cartilage. Glucosamine is a natural sugar produced by the body and found in certain foods. Glucosamine stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential building blocks of cartilage. In most cases, the joints produce sufficient Glucosamine to keep the cartilage in good repair, but if they fail to do so, it dries out, degenerates, cracks, and may even completely wear away. Left unprotected, the joints then become swollen, stiff, inflamed, tender, and painful--the condition known as osteoarthritis. Advocates believe that by taking artificially synthesized Glucosamine sulfate supplements, osteoarthritis sufferers can "jump start" the natural production of Glucosamine by their own bodies.
Glutamine A non-essential amino acid, glutamine is considered to be a brain fuel. Glutamine has been used therapeutically for alcoholism, mild depression and to reduce the craving for sweets. Glutamine is very important in the functioning of the metabolism and muscle maintenance. Glutamine supplementation can help prevent muscle and other tissue breakdown by providing the body with nitrogen and fuel.
Green Tea An herb (Camellia sinensis). Green tea originates in China, Japan and other parts of Asia. The leaf of the plant is used in creating the extract which is potent and bioflavonoid-rich. This herb is used primarily for its free-radical scavenging capabilities. The key ingredient EGCG, which stands for Epigallocatechin Gallate, protects against digestive and respiratory infections. Historical uses of the tea are reducing high blood pressure, inhibiting pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning and blocking the actions of carcinogens, ultraviolet light and metastasis.
Herbs Plants containing many nutrients and phytochemicals, providing an array of health benefits. Herbs have been known for centuries, but are now becoming the basics of many modern medicines.
Hydroxycitric acid Naturally-occurring nutrient with the ability to inhibit the synthesis of carbohydrates into fat; also works as an appetite suppressant. Found in Rel์v products under the brand name CitriMaxฎ.
Inositol A nutrient that helps prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver; aids in the detoxification of metabolic wastes and toxins.
Insulin A protein pancreatic hormone that is essential especially for the metabolism of carbohydrates and is used in the treatment and control of diabetes mellitus.
Iodine A mineral necessary for normal cell metabolism. Required by the thyroid gland in the synthesis and secretion of hormones.
Iron A mineral essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood and muscles, respectively). A part of several proteins and enzymes in the body.
Isoflavones Compounds found in soy which have been shown to significantly reduce serum cholesterol levels the leading risk factor for heart disease as well as alleviate menopausal symptoms in women and assist in combating numerous other serious health risks.
L-carnitine A nutrient responsible for the transportation of fats to cells for use in energy production.
Lysine Essential amino acid. Important for growth, tissue repair, and the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Research indicates that lysine may be useful in the treatment of migraine and herpes simplex. Precursor to carnitine in the body.
Magnesium A mineral aiding many basic functions, including metabolism, heart rhythm, bone growth and the function of nerves and muscles.
Manganese A mineral playing a vital role in reproduction and energy production; very important in building healthy bones. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) Provide twice the energy of carbohydrates; have no significant effect on insulin production. Improve the absorption of amino acids and reduce muscle tissue breakdown.
Molybdenum A mineral required to activate certain enzymes that are necessary for thousands of bodily functions.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) Crucial for conversion of food into energy; helps maintain normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system.
Octacosanol A naturally derived wheat germ oil concentrate which has been clinically proven to increase oxygen utilization when exercising.
PABA Functions in the breakdown and use of proteins in the formation of blood cells.
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) Essential in metabolizing food; aids in the synthesis of various body chemicals, such as hormones and cholesterol.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) Increases the rate of protein synthesis during periods normally marked by muscle breakdown. Can aid in memory function.
Phosphorus A mineral vital to energy production; helps build bone and form cell membranes and genetic material.
Potassium A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically nine ounces versus four ounces). About 98 percent of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells. Potassium is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a co-factor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.
Protein The building blocks of the body. Composed of amino acids, which are vital to the bodys growth and function. Supplies valuable enzymes that regulate bodily functions. Key to muscle building and development.
RDI Recommended Dietary Intake. Estimates of daily minimal dietary intake of established nutrients provided by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. Optimal levels have not been formally established.
Saw palmetto berry An herb (Sarena Serrulata). Saw Palmetto is a small palm tree with red berries which were used by Native American Indians to ease certain ailments. The red berries contain high concentrations of plant sterols, including B-sistosterol, which act as anti-inflammatory agents. In addition, the berries provide a variety of fatty acids and phytosterols which inhibit the action of dihydrotestosterone, the compound thought to be responsible for the enlargement of the prostate.
Selenium Mineral acting as an antioxidant; needed for proper immune and heart functions.
Sodium Helps regulate blood pressure and water balance in the body.
St. Johns wort An herb (Hypericum perforatum). St. John's Wort is an aromatic perennial herb which has been used for centuries for a wide variety of conditions. The plant's active compound, hypericin, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. Hypericin has also been shown to have monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibiting activity, mimicking the action of antidepressant agents.
Testosterone A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.
Tonalin (conjugated linoleic acid) An essential fatty acid shown to reduce body fat and increase muscle tone.
Tyrosine A nonessential amino acid but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. May be important for neurotransmitter synthesis and mood regulation. May be useful for depression, allergies and addictive states.
Vanadyl sulfate Trace mineral which works like insulin to increase the amount of glucose and amino acids driven into the muscle.
Vitamin A Fat-soluble vitamin that promotes good vision; helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth and skeletal and soft tissue; possibly increases resistance to infection.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Essential in metabolism; help cells convert carbohydrates into energy; necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells and heart function.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Helps release energy from carbohydrates; interacts with other B vitamins and is essential for growth and for the production of red blood cells.
Vitamin B6 Vital in the utilization of protein; helps with the formation of red blood cells and plays a role in synthesizing antibodies in the immune system.
Vitamin B12 Important for metabolism regulation and red blood cell production; helps maintain a healthy central nervous system.
Vitamin C Antioxidant that performs a variety of roles in the body, helping to promote healthy gums and teeth, aids in mineral absorption, helps heal wounds. May provide a variety of other health benefits.
Vitamin D Promotes absorption of calcium and helps maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.
Vitamin E Antioxidant that protects tissues from oxidation damage; helps in the formation of red blood cells and in the utilization of vitamin K.
Vitamin K Vital to blood clotting; may help maintain strong bones with aging.
Yohimbe Bark A hormone stimulant, particularly effective in the production of testosterone. Primary Uses: as an aphrodisiac affecting both the male impotence and female frigidity. Secondary Uses: in bodybuilding and athletic formulas where more testosterone production is desired.
Zinc Mineral important to the activity of enzymes needed for cell division and repair. Aids in proper functioning of the immune system.