Glossary of Nutritional Terms

Amino Acids

Amino acids are small, highly reactive molecules composed of 20 to 30 HCNO atoms. When amino acids link together in strings they form proteins. Proteins govern chemical reaction rates and form the structural material for cell parts. Read all about proteins

Antioxidant Vitamins

Much research has recently focused on how antioxidant (an"tih-OK'sih-dant) vitamins may reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Antioxidant vitamins -- E, C and beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) -- have potential health-promoting properties. Though the data are incomplete, up to 30 percent of Americans are taking some form of antioxidant supplement.

Beta Sitosterol

Beta Sitosterol is a potent substance found naturally in many vegetables. It is also sometimes referred to as phytosterol. The "ol" in sitosterol means it is an alcohol compound of plants and vegetables. Beta Sitosterol is a nutrient that has a wide range of health benefits. Most notably, clinical studies show that it exerts a powerful influence on male prostate health. Most men with prostate issues have heard of the herb Saw Palmetto as a prostate supplement, but almost none have heard of Beta Sitosterol.

Besides helping maintain the health of the prostate and helping to alleviate the symtpoms of BPH (Enlarged Prostate Gland), Beta Sitosterol has other potential health benefits: studies show it may help with high cholesterol and high triglycerides. Both of these are primary culprits in heart disease, and, thus heart attacks.

Studies are also being performed at various major Universities to see whether Beta Sitosterol can boost the immune system, help with diabetes, and even prevent some types of cancers. Many of the initial results are promising, but a lot more studies will need to be conducted to say whether or not these projections are overly optimistic, or will bear out. (see phytosterols)


Carotenoids are a class of natural fat-soluble pigments found principally in plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, where they play a critical role in the photosynthetic process. They also occur in some non-photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, and molds, where they may carry out a protective function against damage by light and oxygen. Although animals appear to be incapable of synthesizing carotenoids, many animals incorporate carotenoids from their diet. Within animals, carotenoids provide bright coloration, serve as antioxidants, and can be a source for vitamin A activity (Ong and Tee 1992; Britton et al. 1995).

Carotenoids are responsible for many of the red, orange, and yellow hues of plant leaves, fruits, and flowers, as well as the colors of some birds, insects, fish, and crustaceans. Some familiar examples of carotenoid coloration are the oranges of carrots and citrus fruits, the reds of peppers and tomatoes, and the pinks of flamingos and salmon (Pfander 1992). Some 600 different carotenoids are known to occur naturally (Ong and Tee 1992), and new carotenoids continue to be identified (Mercadante 1999).


Collagen is the main protein of connective tissue. It has great tensile strength, and is the main component of ligaments and tendons. It is responsible for skin elasticity, and its degradation leads to wrinkles that accompany aging. Collagen also fills out the cornea where it is present in crystalline form. Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals.


Functional cosmetic products which produce physiological changes in appearance, feature improvement of function, and offer specific therapeutic benefits for skin and hair.


Cytokines are small secreted proteins which mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. They must be produced de novo in response to an immune stimulus. They generally (although not always) act over short distances and short time spans and at very low concentration. They act by binding to specific membrane receptors, which then signal the cell via second messengers, often tyrosine kinases, to alter its behavior (gene expression). Responses to cytokines include increasing or decreasing expression of membrane proteins (including cytokine receptors), proliferation, and secretion of effector molecules.

The largest group of cytokines stimulates immune cell proliferation and differentiation. This group includes Interleukin 1 (IL-1), which activates T cells; IL-2, which stimulates proliferation of antigen-activated T and B cells; IL-4, IL-5, and IL-6, which stimulate proliferation and differentiation of B cells; Interferon gamma (IFNg), which activates macrophages; and IL-3, IL-7 and Granulocyte Monocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF), which stimulate hematopoiesis.

Ellagic Acid

Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant, polyphenol. Human research reveals that the body readily absorbs ellagic acid leading to inhibition of abnormal division of cells and promoting the normal death of healthy cells. Ellagic acid has been clinically shown to cause apoptosis (cell death) in certain cancer cells and has exhibited anti-carcinogenic effects against a wide range of carcinogens in several tissues. Ellagic acid contributes to significant inhibition of colon, esophageal, liver, lung, tongue, and skin cancers. The interaction of ellagic acid and quercetin demonstrated an enhanced anticarcinogenic potential of polyphenol combinations, which was not based solely on the additive effect of individual compounds, but rather on synergistic biochemical interactions.

Ellagic Acid and Quercentin are found together in Seabuckthorn Tea, along with other powerful anti-oxidants like Ve, Beta Carotene, catechins, other flavonoids!

How does Ellagic Acid work?

Healthy cells have a normal life cycle of approximately 120 days before they die. This process is called apoptosis (natural cell death). The body replaces these dying cells with healthy cells. Conversely, cancer cells do not die. They multiply by division, making 2 cancer cells, then 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. In lab tests, Ellagic Acid caused the cancer cells to go through the normal apoptosis process without damaging healthy cells. Chemotherapy, radiation, and most conventional treatments cause the death of cancer cells and healthy cells indiscriminately, possibly destroying the immune system in the process. Ellagic Acid is clearly the sensible choice.


Elastin is our body's structural  protein that gives elasticity to our tissues and organs. Elastin is found predominantly in the walls of our arteries, in our lungs, intestines, and skin, as well as in other elastic tissues. It functions in connective tissue in partnership with collagen. Whereas collagen provides rigidity, elastin is the protein which allows the connective tissues in our blood vessels and heart tissues, for example, to stretch and then recoil to their original positions.

Imagine elastin within the body's connective tissue to act like a bunch of rubber bands that are tied together at a number of places. When the elastic bands are pulled, they will stretch, and when there is no longer a pull, they will return to their original relaxed state. You can't pull the elastin chain too far because the companion stiff collagen fibers in the connective tissue limit the stretching of the elastin fibers in the tissue.

Epithelial Tissue

Epithelial tissue covers the whole surface of the body. It is made up of cells closely packed and ranged in one or more layers. This tissue is specialised to form the covering or lining of all internal and external body surfaces. Epithelial tissue that occurs on surfaces on the interior of the body is known as endothelium. Epithelial cells are packed tightly together, with almost no intercellular spaces and only a small amount of intercellular substance. Epithelial tissue, regardless of the type, is usually separated from the underlying tissue by a thin sheet of connective tissue; basement membrane. The basement membrane provides structural support for the epithelium and also binds it to neighbouring structures.

Essential Fatty Acids

Throughout human history mankind has ingested an approximate equal proportion (1/1 ratio) of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. The Omegas 6 and 3 are two of forty-nine known essential nutrients. As essential nutrients they cannot be synthesized by the body, but must be ingested directly in foods or in the form of dietary supplements. The relationship of equivalence between the two Omegas is critical because they self-check each other in a delicate balance to regulate thousands of metabolic functions through prostaglandin pathways.  Nearly every biologic function is somehow interconnected with the delicate balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3.

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid (4-hydroxy-3-methoxycinnamic acid) is a ubiquitous phenolic acid in the plant kingdom. It is mainly conjugated with mono- and oligosaccharides, polyamines, lipids and polysaccharides and seldom occurs in a free state in plants. Ferulic acid is a phenolic acid of low toxicity; it can be absorbed and easily metabolized in the human body. Ferulic acid has been reported to have many physiological functions, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombosis, and anti-cancer activities. It also protects against coronary disease, lowers cholesterol and increases sperm viability. Because of these properties and its low toxicity, ferulic acid is now widely used in the food and cosmetic industries. It is used as the raw material for the production of vanillin and preservatives, as a cross-linking agent for the preparation of food gels and edible films, and as an ingredient in sports foods and skin protection agents. Ferulic Acid is present in Seabuckthorn Tea

Flavonoids (FLAV'oh-noidz)

Any of a group of organic compounds that occur as pigments in fruit and flowers [ETYMOLOGY: 20th Century: from flavone + -oid] Flavonoids are compounds with varied chemical structures present in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The major flavonoid categories are flavonols (FLAV'oh-nolz), flavones (FLAV'onz), catechins (KAT'eh-kinz), flavanones (FLAV'ah-nonz) and anthocyanins (an"tho-SI'ah-ninz). The main dietary sources of these compounds are tea, onions, soy and wine. The main flavonoid in onions is quercetin glucoside (KER'seh-tin GLU'ko-s?d) and the main flavonoid in tea is quercetin rutinoside (KER'seh-tin roo-TIN'o-syd. Other flavonoids in seabuckthorn are kaempherol and isorhamnetin  

Free Radical

A highly chemically reactive atom, molecule or molecular fragment with a free or unpaired electron. Free radicals are produced in many different ways such as, normal metabolic processes, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, nuclear radiation and the breakdown in the body of spoiled fats. Free radicals have been implicated in aging, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other kinds of damage to the body, (see antioxidants).

Free-Radical Scavenger

The cascade of chemical reactions that occurs when a free radical reacts with another molecule in order to gain an electron. The molecule that loses an electron to the free radical then becomes a free radical, repeating the process until the energy of the free radical is spent, or the reaction is stopped by an antioxidant. In biological systems, this cascade can damage important molecules like DNA.

Mucous Membrane

Thin skin lining all animal body cavities and canals that come into contact with the air (for example, eyelids, breathing and digestive passages, genital tract). It contains goblet cells that secrete mucus, a moistening, lubricating, and protective fluid. In the air passages mucus captures dust and bacteria. In the gut it helps food slip along, and protects the epithelial cells from being damaged by digestive enzymes. Mucous membranes line the air passages from the mouth to the lungs and to the gut. The layer of cells next to the space in the tubes is an epithelium. In the air passages many of these cells have hair-like projections called cilia and the epithelium is then called a ciliated epithelium.  


a broad class of organic products found in living systems. Most are insoluble in water but soluble in nonpolar solvents. The definition excludes the mineral oils and other petroleum products obtained from fossil material. Major classes of lipids include the fatty acids, the glycerol-derived lipids (including the fats and oils and the phospholipids), the sphingosine-derived lipids (including the ceramides, cerebrosides, gangliosides, and sphingomyelins), the steroids and their derivatives, the terpenes and their derivatives, certain aromatic compounds, and long-chain alcohols and waxes. In living organisms lipids serve as the basis of cell membranes and as a form of fuel storage. Often lipids are found conjugated with proteins or carbohydrates, and the resulting substances are known as lipoproteins and lipopolysaccharides. The fat-soluble vitamins can be classified as lipids. Liposomes are spherical vesicles formed by mixing lipids with water or water solutions. They have found applications in the oral administration of some drugs (e.g., insulin and some cancer drugs), since they retain their integrity until they are broken down by the lipases in the stomach and small intestine.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001



Health Canada defines nutraceutical as: 'a product isolated or purified from foods, and generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food and demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease.'  

Technically, oxidation is the chemical process by which an atom, molecule, or ion robs another of one or more of its electrons. Chemicals exhibiting this tendency for stealing electrons are referred to as oxidizing agents. Perhaps the most familiar oxidizing agent is oxygen itself. We can see many examples of oxygen doing its electron stealing in our everyday lives: the browning of an apple, the rusting of an iron nail, the slow fading of blue jeans. When a material is oxidized, its chemical structure is altered, often irreversibly. The human body is no exception.

We are constantly exposed to oxidative stress. This stress is partly brought on by environmental parameters, such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, exposure to chemicals, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light or other forms of ionizing radiation (Møller et al. 1996; Papas 1999). Partly, however, oxidative stress in animals, including humans, arises as a natural result of the body sustaining itself by aerobic (oxygen-requiring) metabolism (Ames et al. 1993; Davies 1995). Normal aerobic metabolism produces as its by-products various highly reactive molecules, collectively termed "oxidants". These oxidants include a variety of electron-stealing molecules known as free radicals, as well as the highly reactive singlet form of oxygen (Darley-Usmar and Halliwell 1996). Some of these reactive molecules (e. g., superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide) are physiologically useful and, in fact, are necessary for life, but can also be harmful if present in excess or in inappropriate situations. All of these oxidants can react with various components of a living cell, such as proteins, DNA, or lipids (fats), thus causing damage by changing the chemical structure of these components. Such damage has been linked to a number of pathological conditions including aging (Harman 1981; Ames and Shigenaga 1992), atherogenesis (Steinberg et al. 1989; Esterbauer et al. 1992), ischemia-reperfusion injury (Simpson and Lucchesi 1987; Takayama et al. 1992), infant retinopathy (Phelps 1987), age-related macular degeneration (Gerster 1991), and carcinogenesis (Moody and Hassan 1982; Marnett 1987; Breimer 1990). For us, oxygen is therefore both necessary and harmful; this sobering conclusion has been referred to as the "paradox of aerobic life" (Davies 1995).


A complex lipid containing phosphorus. The phosphatides, known as phospholipids, are usually divided into groups on the basis of compounds from which they are derived. In addition to fatty acids they contain phosphoric acid, and further may contain glycerol and nitrogenous bases such as choline. The most important phospholipids are phosphatidylcholine (lecithin), phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol (1). Their function as the principle components of cell membranes makes phospholipids essential for all vital cell processes. Phospholipids are the most important membrane building compounds that occur in human, animal and plant cells (1). All biological membranes consist primarily of phospholipids and proteins. Phospholipids are amphophilic molecules with unique physicochemical properties. They are widespread as secretory and structural components of the body and can mimic or enhance natural physiological processes.

Human skin is a sensitive and complex organ utilizing miriad cell processes to function. Phospholipids contain naturally occurring essential polysaturated fatty acids, which can contribute to the activation of cellular metabolism. The most important of these fatty acids is linoleic acid, present in Seabuckthorn Seed Oil at more than 30%). Phospholipids can bind both water and fat which make them excellent natural co-solubilizers. They can also be used as dissolution agents, dispersant, wetting agents and stabilizers. This ideal combination of physical and chemical functionality has phospholipids an indispensable component in cosmetic products.


are chemicals found in plants. Plant sterols, flavonoids (FLAV'oh-noidz), and sulfur-containing compounds are three classes of micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables. These compounds may be important in reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis (ath"er-o-skleh-RO'sis), which is the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls. Within these categories are many possible compounds, most of which aren't well described and whose modes of action aren't established. Many other plant products may also be linked to the atherosclerotic process, such as antioxidant vitamins, phytoestrogens and trace minerals. These plant micronutrients will clearly be the topic of future research. As work continues on all these compounds, other unrecognized components in plants will be identified that may have promise in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.


The term "phytosterols" covers plant sterols and plant stanols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring substances present in the diet as minor components of vegetable oils. Plant stanols, occurring in nature at a lower level, are hydrogenation compounds of the respective plant sterols. An elevated level of blood cholesterol is one of the well established risk factors for coronary heart disease. Both plant sterols and plant stanols are effective in lowering plasma total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and this occurs by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine. In order to achieve a cholesterol lowering benefit approximately 1g/day of plant sterols or plant stanols need to be consumed. In comparison, normal dietary intake is between 200-400mg/day plant sterols whereas the normal dietary intake of plant stanols is negligible.

Foods supplemented with plant sterols/stanols may reduce cholesterol and are a promising addition to interventions aimed at lowering heart disease risk. The FDA has approved the following health claim for plant stanol/sterol esters and reduced risk of heart disease: Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include at least 1.3 grams of plant sterol esters or 3.4 grams of plant stanol esters, consumed in 2 meals with other foods, may reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition to and in the presence of the health claim, products with plant stanol/sterol esters may also state that they can reduce cholesterol levels. Recently, the FDA indicated they will consider expanding the use of the health claim for a broader range of eligible food products comprised of free (unesterified) stanols and sterols. (see beta sistosterol)


Polyphenols, particularly the flavonoids, are among the most potent plant antioxidants. Polyphenols can form complexes with reactive metals such as iron, zinc and copper – reducing their absorption. At first glance, this may seem to be a negative side effect (reducing nutrient absorption), but excess levels of such elements (metal cations) in the body can promote the generation of free radicals and contribute to the oxidative damage of cell membranes and cellular DNA. In addition to their chelating effect on metal cations, polyphenols also function as potent free radical scavengers within the body, where they can neutralize free radicals before they can cause cellular damage


 Prostaglandins are any of a group of about a dozen compounds synthesized from fatty acids in mammals as well as in lower animals. Prostaglandins are highly potent substances that are not stored but are produced as needed by cell membranes in virtually every body tissue. Different prostaglandins have been found to raise or lower blood pressure and regulate smooth muscle activity and glandular secretion. One such substance, which stimulates contraction of the uterus, is used clinically to induce labor; another has been in experimental use as a birth control agent. Prostaglandins also control the substances involved in the transmission of nerve impulses, participate in the body’s defenses against infection, and regulate the rate of metabolism in various tissues. Several prostaglandins have been shown to induce fever, possibly by participating in the temperature-regulating mechanisms in the hypothalamus; they also play a part in causing inflammation.


Quercitin is a potent bioflavinoid and anti-oxidant and has been shown to reduce the risks associated with high cholesterol levels. Bioflavinoids are the compounds that give color to vegetables. Quercetin gives red and rose wines its distinctive color and may the reason the men who drink wine red and rose wines appear to have a lower incidence of prostate problems and heart and circulatory problems as well, the so-called "French Paradox". Quercetin may be the strongest of natures anti-inflammatories. Numerous studies have shown it effective in treating a wide range of problems, including macular degeneration, arthritis, joint inflammation, and asthma. A recent published study demonstrates quercitin provides long-term symptomatic relief with few side effects to men that are afflicted with nonbacterial prostatitis. The Mayo Clinic announced on March 26 the results of an extensive study demonstrating that quercetin may prevent the development of prostate cancer cells. Quercetin also increases absorption of Vitamin C, which may also aid immunity & tendon problems. It also has anti-viral properties & is often used to treat respiratory & sinus problems.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is type of medicine called a keratolytic. It works by breaking down keratin, which is a protein that forms part of the skin structure. In conditions such as psoriasis and chronic eczema, excessive amounts of keratin in the skin cells causes these cells to harden, and makes the skin become thickened and scaly. This not only makes the skin itchy and inflamed, but also reduces the degree to which anti-inflammatory medicines can penetrate through the skin to treat the inflammation.


Superoxide is a reactive anion (negatively charged ion) and free radical, formally O2-. It has an unpaired electron, is not particularly stable, and spontaneously decomposes into peroxide over time. Superoxide has also been implicated in the mechanisms of aging and the peroxidation of lipids. Superoxide is scavenged by the enzyme superoxide dismutase, or SOD. Although the rate of reaction of SOD is so close to the spontaneous disassociation rate that some have questioned the biological need for SOD, the absence of SOD can lead to a form of anemia in humans.

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)

 A zinc and copper or manganese containing enzyme which reacts with superoxide radicals to convert them to less dangerous chemical entities. SOD1 is a gene found in human cells that produces superoxide dismutase (SOD), an extremely potent antioxidant enzyme that fights cellular damage from reactive singlet oxygen molecules, also known as free radicals. Research suggests that SOD may be the most important enzyme in our body for the control of free radicals, keeping our cell membranes young, supple, and healthy.

When administered therapeutically, SOD has been shown to exert strong regenerative effects on tissues that have become hardened or fibrotic because of age, disease, or injury (Lefaix, 1993). SOD therapy has been used successfully to treat fibrotic scaring of organs after radiation therapy; to prevent further heart damage in cardiac patients; and to improve severe rheumatoid arthritis. But, from recent research reported in the journal Nature Genetics, and discussed in a USA Today article, it appears that SOD’s most beneficial application may be in the anti-aging arena. SOD is the main antioxidant in the eye lens and is one of the body’s two natural antioxidant enzymes. Zinc, copper, selenium and manganese are required for synthesis. Reduces high blood pressure and prevents cataracts.  In animals of any species, those with the highest levels of SOD live the longest.

Vitamin E (Tocopherols and Tocotrienols)

Tocopherol, or vitamin E, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is an important antioxidant. Vitamin E is often used in skin creams and lotions because it is claimed by the manufacturers to play a role in encouraging skin healing and reducing scarring after injuries such as burns.

Natural vitamin E exists in eight different forms or isomers, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. All isomers have a chromanol ring, with a hydroxyl group which can donate a hydrogen atom to reduce free radicals and a hydrophobic side chain which allows for penetration into biological membranes. There is an alpha, beta, gamma and delta form of both the tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each form has its own biological activity, the measure of potency or functional use in the body.

Antioxidants such as vitamin E act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of the body’s metabolism. Free radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies are underway to determine whether vitamin E might help prevent or delay the development of those chronic diseases.