Arginine

What are the benefits?

Arginine is an amino acid (one of the building blocks from which proteins are made), which has several important roles in the body. It helps to maintain a strong immune system and aids in the detoxification of the liver. It also helps maintain a healthy ratio of muscle and fat in the body, and is a component of collagen. Collagen is a protein used in wound healing and the formation of bone. Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, a substance which helps maintain brain function such as memory recall, and is important to help blood vessels stay dilated. Arginine plays an essential role in the release of insulin and growth hormones and is a component of the pituitary hormone vasopressin.

What are the natural food sources?

Good sources of arginine are dairy products, meat, poultry, and fish. Nuts, coconut, oats, soybeans, walnuts, wheat and chocolate also contain significant amounts of arginine.

How much do you need?

The recommended daily allowance for arginine is not defined.

Are you likely to be deficient?

The body usually makes enough arginine, even when the diet is lacking. However, during times of unusual stress (including during infection, or following burns or injury), the body may not be able to keep up with increased requirements.

Are there any interactions?

Those suffering from viral infections such as herpes should not take supplemental arginine, and should avoid foods containing high amounts of arginine. Arginine appears to promote the growth of certain viruses.

What are the benefits?

A relative of the blueberry, bilberry is a small shrub with sweet, black berries, which comes from northern Europe and northern America. The dried berries and leaves of bilberry plant have been used to help maintain eye health, and for many other purposes. The anthocyanosides in bilberry extract appear to act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are important to help neutralise potentially damaging free radicals in the body. Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body. They cause damage by interacting with cell membranes, proteins and cell DNA.

What parts of the plant are used?

The entire bilberry plant is used.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for bilberry.

Are there any interactions?

Bilberry may interfere with the absorption of iron.

What are the benefits?

Bioflavonoids, sometimes called flavonoids or vitamin P, are compounds found in fruit and vegetables. Over 4000 different bioflavonoids have been discovered. Bioflavonoids have antioxidant properties very similar to vitamin C and can actually aid in the absorption of vitamin C. Like all antioxidants, bioflavonoids help to neutralise potentially damaging free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body. They cause damage by interacting with cell membranes, proteins and cell DNA. Bioflavonoids can also bind to proteins, altering their structure and thereby modulating the activity of key enzymes and proteins. They may be beneficial for eye health and help to maintain a strong immune system. They may also help to maintain the tone of blood vessels, and may therefore contribute to a healthy circulation.

What are the natural food sources?

Bioflavonoids occur naturally in the skins of fruit and vegetables. Major sources include apples, berries, grapes, onions, red wine, tea, peppers, citrus fruits, apricots and cherries.

How much do you need?

The recommended daily allowance for bioflavonoids is not defined, but most adults consume between 30 and 100 mcg per day. The human body cannot produce these powerful antioxidants, so they must be supplied from the diet.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Bioflavonoids deficiencies have not been reported.

Are there any interactions?

Extremely high doses of bioflavonoids may cause diarrhoea.

What are the benefits?

Burdock is a plant native to Europe and Asia, which is used to help maintain water balance, healthy skin and supple, flexible joints. Bitter constituents in the burdock root explain its traditional use to help maintain normal digestion. Burdock also contains polyacetylenes that may help maintain resistance to infection.

What parts of the plant are used?

Burdock seeds may be crushed to make a tincture. More commonly, the root is the source of herbal preparations.

What are the natural food sources?

The burdock root may be eaten, although burdock is more commonly used as an extract. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for burdock.

Are you likely to be deficeint?

There are no known deficiencies.

Are there any interactions?

Burdock may interfere with iron absorption. Excessive doses may interfere with hypoglycaemic therapy. Pregnant or lactating women should avoid burdock.

What are the benefits?

Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamins A and D and two omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids needed for the formation of prostaglandins and other similar substances in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances with an important role in joint health and many other areas. EPA and DHA are needed to help regulate blood pressure, help balance levels of fats in the blood, and for the maintenance of cell membranes. EPA also helps preserve an easy flow of blood though our bodies by helping to maintain a normal degree of ‘stickiness’ in blood platelets. Omega-3 fish oil may therefore help maintain a healthy heart and circulation. DHA is needed for the development and maintenance of brain and eye function.

What are the natural food sources?

Cod liver oil is taken as an extract only.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for cod liver oil.

Are you taking too much?

Taking several grams of fish oil daily may cause gastrointestinal upset or burping with a “fishy” smell.

Are there any interactions?

People with certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes and some blood disorders, should check with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements. Some prescription medicines may be affected by fish oils. Pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy should avoid supplements of cod liver oil.

What are the benefits?

Cystine is an amino acid, which makes up 10-14% of skin and hair. It consists of two molecules of cysteine joined together. Both cystine and cysteine are capable of converting into the other form as needed. Cystine aids in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin and plays an important role in the healing of wounds or burns. It also helps to maintain levels of the coenzyme glutathione in the lungs, kidney, liver and bone marrow, and aids in protein synthesis.

What are the natural food sources?

Cystine is a non-essential amino acid that occurs naturally in many foods.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for cystine.

Are there any interactions?

People suffering from cystinuria, a rare genetic condition that leads to the formation of cystine kidney stones, should not take cystine.

What are the benefits?

Echinacea is an herb, which helps to maintain a strong immune system and resistance to infection. It also helps maintain a healthy circulation and the numbers of white blood cells which act in the immune system. Echinacea is important to healthy skin as it helps to maintain the growth of cells which secrete proteins and collagen – the substance which keeps skin supple and taut.

What parts of the plant are used?

The root and leaves of the echinacea plant during the flowering growth phase are used.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for echinacea.

Are there any interactions?

People with allergies to plants in the sunflower family should not take echinacea. Echinacea may interfere with immuno-suppressive therapy.

What are the benefits?

Garlic helps to maintain a healthy heart and circulation, as well as a healthy immune system. It is important for cardiovascular health because it helps to regulate blood pressure and balance cholesterol levels in the blood. It also helps preserve an easy flow of blood through our bodies by helping to maintain a normal degree of ‘stickiness’ in blood platelets.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for garlic.

Are you taking too much?

Most people enjoy garlic, however some individuals who are sensitive to it may experience heartburn, flatulence, nausea or diarrhoea.

Are there any interactions?

People taking hypoglycaemic or anticoagulant drugs should check with their doctor before taking garlic. Garlic may potentiate the antithrombotic effects of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Garlic works in synergy with the EPA found in fish oils.

What are the benefits?

Ginkgo biloba helps to maintain a healthy blood circulation and an easy flow of blood throughout our bodies by helping to maintain a normal degree of ‘stickiness’ in blood platelets. It is also important for the elasticity of blood vessels, helping the muscles in the blood vessels to stay relaxed. Ginkgo biloba may contribute to normal, easy breathing by having a similar effect on the muscles in the lungs. Ginkgo biloba helps to maintain normal brain functions such memory recall, especially with ageing.

What parts of the plant are used?

The leaves of the ginkgo biloba plant are used.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for ginkgo biloba.

Are there any interactions?

There are no known interactions with the leaf extract.

What are the benefits?

Widely used in the Far East, ginseng may help maintain overall physical and mental wellbeing. In stressful, hectic lifestyles or sports activities, ginseng plays a role in the maintenance of vitality and energy reserves by helping to maintain the use of fatty acids in place of glycogen as an energy resource. (Glycogen is the form of glucose stored in the liver and muscle cells). Ginseng also helps the body to maintain normal function of the adrenal glands, a healthy immune system, reproductive health, and a healthy heart and circulation.

What parts of the plant are used?

The roots of the ginseng plant are used.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for ginseng.

Are you taking too much?

Taking too much ginseng may result in insomnia, headaches, heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure and irritability. Long-term use of ginseng may result in an inflamed nerve, which then causes muscle spasms in the affected area.

Are there any interactions?

People who are highly energetic, nervous, hysteric, manic or schizophrenic should avoid taking ginseng, as should people with hypoglycemia, high blood pressure or heart disorders. Ginseng should not be taken with stimulants, including coffee and antipsychotic drugs, or during treatment with hormones.

What are the benefits?

Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body from glucose and glutamic acid. Its role is to help maintain healthy joints by supporting the body’s ability to generate and regenerate cartilage – the connective tissue which is necessary for joint movement. Glucosamine provides joints with the building blocks they need to repair damage caused by ageing or sports injuries. It is also involved in the formation of nails, tendons, skin, eyes, bones, ligaments and heart valves.

What are the natural food sources?

Glucosamine sulphate does not appear in significant amounts in the diet, but is manufactured naturally in the body. Supplemental sources are derived from seashells.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for glucosamine sulphate.

Are there any interactions?

There are no well-known interactions with glucosamine sulphate.

What are the benefits?

Inositol is sometimes referred to as a B vitamin, although strictly speaking this is not true. Inositol combines with fatty acids to form phospholipids needed for the formation of cell membranes. It helps certain membrane-bound enzymes to work, and can help make cell membranes permeable to certain substances. Inositol affects nerve transmission, and aids in the transportation of fats around the body. It is important in the formation of lecithin and the breakdown and utilisation of fat and cholesterol.

What are the natural food sources?

Natural sources of inositol include brewer’s yeast, cantaloupe, fruits, lecithin, legumes, meats, milk, liver, raisins, vegetables and whole grains.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for inositol.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Inositol deficiency may cause constipation, hair loss, high blood cholesterol, irritability, mood swings and skin eruptions

Are there any interactions?

The consumption of large amounts of caffeine may cause a shortage of inositol in the body.

What are the benefits?

Lecithin is a type of fat needed by every living cell in the body. Membranes that regulate the passage of nutrients into and out of cells are largely composed of lecithin. Muscles, nerve cells, and the protective sheaths surrounding the brain also contain lecithin. Lecithin is a major source of choline, a substance which helps to maintain normal fat to muscle ratio and is important to brain function. It also enables fats such as cholesterol and other lipids to be dispersed in water and removed from the body, so it is important to help maintain a healthy heart and circulation.

What are the natural food sources?

Lecithin is derived mostly from soybeans, but is also found in brewer’s yeast, grains, legumes, fish and wheat germ. Egg lecithin is also quite popular.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for lecithin.

Are you likely to be deficient?

There is no known lecithin deficiency.

Are you taking too much?

Several grams per day of lecithin might cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, or nausea.

Are there any interactions?

Lecithin aids in the absorption of thiamine (vitamin B1) by the liver and the absorption of vitamin A by the intestines.

What are the benefits?

Lysine is an essential building block for all protein. It aids in the absorption of calcium, plays a role in the production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes, and helps to maintain normal nitrogen balance in the body. It is also important for the formation of collagen – a protein essential to the growth and development of skin, bones and joint cartilage. Collagen helps skin to stay supple and taught, and plays a key role in tissue repair.

What are the natural food sources?

Lysine is present in cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, wheat germ and yeast.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for lysine.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Lysine deficiency may result in anaemia, bloodshot eyes, enzyme disorders, hair loss, an inability to concentrate, irritability, lack of energy, poor appetite, reproductive disorders, retarded growth or weight loss.

Are there any interactions?

There are no known interactions with lysine.

What are the benefits?

Methionine is an amino acid (one of the building blocks from which proteins are made) essential for the absorption and transportation of selenium and zinc around the body and the breakdown of fats in the blood. For this reason, methionine may help maintain healthy lower levels of fat in the liver and arteries. Methionine also aids in the digestion of harmful lead and other heavy metals.

What are the natural food sources?

Natural sources of methionine include beans, beef, chicken, eggs, fish, garlic, lentils, meat, onions, pork, soybeans, seeds and yoghurt.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for methionine.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Most people consume plenty of methionine through a typical diet.

Are there any interactions?

Excessive methionine intake, in the presence of inadequate intake of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, can increase the conversion of methionine to homocysteine.

What are the benefits?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of unsaturated fatty acids needed for the formation of prostaglandins and other similar substances in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances with an important role in joint health and many other areas. Omega-3 fish oil is rich in two particular omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (known as EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are needed to help regulate blood pressure, help balance levels of fats in the blood, and for the maintenance of cell membranes. EPA also helps preserve an easy flow of blood though our bodies by helping to maintain a normal degree of ‘stickiness’ in blood platelets. Omega-3 fish oil may therefore help maintain a healthy heart and circulation. DHA is needed for the development and maintenance of brain and eye function.

What are the natural food sources?

Omega-3 fish oil is mostly found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, herrings, sardines, anchovies and albacore tuna.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for omega-3 fish oil.

Are you taking too much?

Taking several grams of fish oil may cause gastrointestinal upset and burping with a “fishy” smell.

Are there any interactions?

People with certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes and some blood disorders, should check with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements. Some prescription medicines may be affected by fish oils.

What are the benefits?

Pollen helps maintain a healthy immune system and resistance to infection. It is also thought to help maintain overall vitality and wellbeing.

What are the natural food sources?

The natural sources of pollen are timothy grass, corn, rye, and pine.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for pollen.

Are there any interactions?

Many people have allergies to inhaled pollens, but reactions to ingested pollen are rare.

What are the benefits?

Evening Primrose Oil is a good source of linoleic acid and is one of nature’s richest sources of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). GLA is vital for the formation of prostaglandins – hormone-like substances which help to maintain premenstrual health and play an important regulatory role in many other health areas. GLA can be manufactured in the body from linoleic acid, but linoleic acid must be taken in through the diet because our bodies cannot manufacture it themselves. Evening Primrose Oil contains both GLA and linoleic acid, so it helps maintain GLA levels both directly and indirectly. Linoleic acid also helps to maintain skin structure and retain water in the skin tissue. Evening Primrose Oil may help maintain brain function and healthy blood pressure.

What are the natural food sources?

GLA can be found in human breast milk, oats and barley. It is also found in black current seed oil and starflower oil (also known as borage oil) supplements.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for Evening Primrose Oil.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Women with premenstrual syndrome, diabetes and eczema may have a metabolic block that interferes with the body’s ability to make GLA. Evening Primrose Oil may be beneficial for individuals who cannot convert linoleic acid into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), including those with zinc deficiency, excessive alcohol consumption, cardiovascular disorders, high cholesterol, viral infections and cancer.

Are you taking too much?

Very high intakes of Evening Primrose Oil could cause mild gastro-intestinal effects, indigestion, nausea, and softening of stools. Evening Primrose Oil is non-toxic.

Are there any interactions?

Evening Primrose Oil is not advised during pregnancy and should not be given to schizophrenic patients or those taking epileptogenic drugs such as phenothiazines.

What are the benefits?

Propolis is a resin-like substance gathered by bees from tree leaves and bark. Bees need propolis to make a natural “glue” which they use to coat the surface of their hives. Propolis contains 21 different flavonoids and antioxidants which help to neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body. They cause damage by interacting with cell membranes, proteins and cell DNA. As well as acting as a powerful antioxidant, propolis may help maintain a healthy immune system and resistance to infection by assisting with phagocytosis, the means by which white blood cells destroy bacteria.

What are the natural food sources?

Propolis is a resin-like substance found in trees, particularly poplar and fir trees.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for propolis.

Are there any interactions?

There are no known side effects or interactions with propolis.

What are the benefits?

Rutin is one of over 4000 bioflavonoids found in fruit and vegetables. Bioflavonoids have antioxidant properties very similar to vitamin C and can actually aid in the absorption of vitamin C. Like all bioflavonoids, rutin helps to maintain a strong immune system and antioxidant defence by neutralising potentially damaging free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body. They cause damage by interacting with cell membranes, proteins and cell DNA. Bioflavonoids can also bind to proteins, altering their structure and thereby modulating the activity of key enzymes and proteins. Rutin may contribute to a healthy circulation by helping to maintain the tone of blood vessels.

What are the natural food sources?

Rutin is found beneath the peel of citrus fruits, in peppers, buckwheat, black currants, apricots, cherries, grapes and prunes.

How much do you need?

Like all the bioflavonoids, there is no recommended daily allowance for rutin.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Rutin deficiency is highly unlikely, but may result in an increased tendency to bruise or bleed.

Are there any interactions?

Extremely high doses of rutin could cause diarrhoea.

What are the benefits?

Starflower Oil, also known as Borage Oil, is nature’s richest source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). GLA is vital for the formation of prostaglandins – hormone-like substances which play an important regulatory role in many health areas. Prostaglandins help to maintain hormone balance, so they are important for premenstrual health and breast comfort. In addition, Starflower Oil may help maintain healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

What parts of the plant are used?

The leaves and seeds of borage plant are used to extract Starflower Oil.

What are the natural food sources?

GLA can be found in human breast milk, oats and barley. Supplements of black current seed oil and evening primrose oil also contain GLA.

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for Starflower Oil.

Are you likely to be deficient?

Those with premenstrual syndrome, diabetes and eczema can have a metabolic block that interferes with the body’s ability to make GLA. Starflower Oil may be beneficial for individuals who cannot convert linoleic acid into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), including those with zinc deficiency, excessive alcohol consumption, cardiovascular disorders, high cholesterol, viral infections and cancer.

Are you taking too much?

There are no known side effects from taking too much Starflower Oil.

Are there any interactions?

Starflower Oil should be avoided by those taking blood-thinning products such as aspirin and warfarin. It is not advised during pregnancy and should not be given to schizophrenic patients or those taking epileptogenic drugs such as phenothiazines.

What are the benefits?

Wheat germ oil is very high in vitamin E so it is often used as a source of vitamin E both internally and externally. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which plays an important role in the body by helping to prevent damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of chemical reactions that take place in the body. They cause damage by interacting with cell membranes, proteins and cell DNA. Vitamin E is particularly important for healthy skin since free radicals caused by pollutants and sunlight can damage skin cells. Octacosanol is another ingredient in wheat germ, which may help maintain overall vitality.

What are the natural food sources?

Wheat germ oil is extracted from wheat germ

How much do you need?

There is no recommended daily allowance for wheat germ oil.

Are there any interactions?

There are no known interactions with wheat germ oil.