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Frequently Asked Questions

The mission of NutritionFocus is to help you find the nutritional information you are seeking as rapidly as possible. NutritionFocus is designed with much of the information conveniently contained within our own pages. The "Help" button in the green column at the left of the home page explains how to use NutritionFocus to quickly locate the information you are seeking. Beside the information contained within NutritionFocus, there are thousands of links to other sites that may contain the information that you are seeking. However, even with these vast resources, we realize that you may have questions about supplements to which we have not yet found links or you may wish additional discussion. The "Ask the Experts" section is intended to address these questions. If we receive many requests for the same information, we will post those questions and answers here.

1. With regards to minerals, what does elemental and compound weight mean? How can I tell which is listed?

2. What does "L" mean in front of an Amino Acid?

3. Why aren't taurine and glycine "D" or "L"?

4. What is the difference between dry and regular Vitamin E?

5. What is the difference between Mixed Tocopherols and Alpha Tocopherol?

6. What is the difference between Flaxseed and Linseed Oils?

7. Can one take herbs while pregnant/lactating?

8. What are the differences between the mineral chelates?

9. What are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids?

10. What is Iron Bisglycinate? How does it compare to other forms of iron?

11. What does FCC & GDU's mean?

12. What is the difference between Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALC) and L-Carnitine?

13. At what age can children start taking supplements?

14. What is the difference between Pycnogenol, pine bark and grape seed extracts? Is one better than the other?

15. I understand that d-ALPHA TOCOPHERYL SUCCINATE (esterified) is produced by chemically reducing the eight oily natural vitamins - alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocotrienols and alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols, converting them into a single acid ester.

My question is this: Does this (esterified) form of vitamin E have any
antioxidant action?


Some of the published materials of those companies who esterfy vitamin E
claim that esterfied vitamin-E has no antioxidant action and thus provides
no protection against harmful free radical damage.

I would like to hear your position on this question.


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Q1: With regards to minerals, what does elemental and compound weight mean? How can I tell which is listed?

A1: Elemental weight refers to the actual weight of the available mineral. Whereas, compound weight refers to the entire weight of the mineral plus the chelate or other organic material combined. In the past, it has been difficult to tell which weight was being used on the label. In 1999, the FDA required new labels that clarify this issue.

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Q2: What does "L" mean in front of an Amino Acid?

A2: Chemically, "L" and "D" are letter symbols used to describe the direction an atom of an amino acid can rotate polarized light due to the chemical structure of the molecule. An "L" or levorotary amino acid bends polarized light to the left. Whereas, a "D" or dextrorotary amino acid bends polarized light to the right. An amino acid can only have the designated "L" or "D" providing it has a stereoisomer (structural mirror image) of itself. The amino acid form that is best utilized by the body is the "L" form.

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Q3: Why aren't taurine and glycine designated "D" or "L"?

A3: Due to their chemical structure, taurine and glycine exist in only one form and do not have stereoisomers (mirror images). Therefore, the designated "L" or "D" is not applicable.

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Q4: What is the difference between dry and regular Vitamin E?

A4: Dry vitamin E is scientifically known as d-alpha tocopheryl succinate. The process of esterification allows the oil form of natural d-alpha tocopherol to be used in its 'dry' or 'non-oily' form for tablet and two-piece capsule formulations. When a vitamin E ester is used, the 'ol' in tocopherol is replaced by a 'yl'. Succinate is derived from succinic acid which is an organic substance found in and around cells of the human body.

For those who experience difficulty digesting fats/oils, the succinate form of Vitamin E is preferable than the oil form of vitamin E.

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Q5: What is the difference between Mixed Tocopherols and Alpha Tocopherol?

A5: Vitamin E is a family of substances called tocopherols and tocotrienols that include d-alpha, d-beta, d-gamma and d-delta tocopherols. Natural source vitamin E inherently contains approximately 2% of the mixed tocopherols. D-alpha tocopherol is the most active form of vitamin E and has many years of substantial research describing it's beneficial effects in the body. Many individuals choose to supplement the mixed tocopherols form of vitamin E which supplies quantified amounts of the active d-alpha tocopherol and the other mixed tocopherols. There are indications that the mixed tocopherols may enhance the antioxidant ability of alpha tocopherol.

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Q6: What is the difference between Flaxseed and Linseed Oils?

A6: They are two names for the same oil. In the past, linseed oil was popularized by the media. Therefore, consumers requested Linseed oil. Today, Flaxseed oil, also know as linseed oil, has been the subject of recent attention in the media and therefore consumers have been requesting this oil by its latter name. Regardless of the nomenclature chosen, they are one and the same.

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Q7: Can one take herbs while pregnant/lactating?

A7: We do not recommend the use of herbs while pregnant or lactating unless the patient is advised to do so by their healthcare practitioner.

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Q8: What are the differences between the mineral chelates?

A8: Chelation refers to the process of chemically attaching a carrier to a mineral for the purpose of achieving enhanced absorption. Since some minerals are difficult to absorb, various organic esters and chelating agents can be attached to a mineral for increased absorption. Inorganic materials such as oxides and carbonates are generally not as easily absorbed. Therefore, organic chelates such as picolinates, histidinates, aspartates, glycinates, and other amino acids are all deemed more appropriate. Please be aware that mechanical blends of minerals and chelating agents can be made, which simply mix the two ingredients together. This does not describe a true chelated mineral and will not enhance the absorption of that mineral. There needs to be a chemical bond. Therefore, look for chelated minerals with patent numbers or the words "fully reacted chelates" to assure you that the chelating agent was chemically attached to the mineral.

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Q9: What are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids?

A9: Fatty acids are long carbon chain molecules and are part of the larger category called fats/lipids. Scientists differentiate fatty acids by the characteristics within the long chain of carbon molecules. The two principle forms of essential and conditionally essential fatty acids for humans are the omega-6 (n6) and omega-3 (n3) series. The number indicates the position of the first double carbon bond on the long chain.

The omega-6 Series includes: Linoleic Acid (LA), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), Dihomogamma Linolenic Acid (DLA), Arachidonic Acid (AA). GLA is found primarily in mother's milk and in borage, black currant and evening primrose seeds. DGLA is also found in mother's milk and some organ meats. AA is found in meats, dairy products, and some seafood. GLA is a prostaglandin precursor. Prostaglandins play a major role in regulating functions of every single organ in the body including maintaining the salt/water balance, insulin secretion, nerve conduction, gastrointestinal function, etc.. Certain beneficial prostaglandin's help reduce inflammation, decrease platelet aggregation, decrease cholesterol synthesis, and lower blood pressure.

Omega-3 Series includes: Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). ALA is found in green leafy vegetables and in seed oils (e. g. flax/linseed). EPA and DHA is found primarily in cold-saltwater fish such as cod, salmon, sardines, haddock, mackerel and herring. Omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively studied for their beneficial effects as

useful adjuncts in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as: lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing stroke and heart attacks, lowering high blood pressure, decreasing the inflammation of arthritis. Omega-3's also have been a useful adjunct in treating multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and eczema and certain cancers.

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Q10: What is Iron Bisglycinate? How does it compare to other forms of iron?

A10: Iron Bisglycinate is a gentle, non-constipating, chelated iron supplement that has been shown to be four times more bioavailable than the commonly prescribed ferrous sulfate. Additionally, iron bisglycinate does not irritate the gastrointestinal system and is non-constipating. Research has shown that iron bisglycinate has superior absorption and bioavailability and has been successfully used to treat difficult cases of anemia. The iron bisglycinate molecule is believed to be absorbed intact in a manner similar to amino acid absorption. This unique iron source allows for the use of less iron in a supplement owing to its excellent

bioavailability. Supplementing with a lower dose of iron means fewer side effects and a reduced level of interactions with other minerals and nutrients.

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Q11: What does FCC & GDU's mean?

A11: These are simply measuring units to reference the strength or activity of enzymes. FCC refers to the "food chemical codex" which provides activity unit measurements to differentiate enzyme activity. These units measure an enzymes biological activity. GDU refers to "gelatin digesting units", which also measures an enzymes biological activity.

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Q12: What is the difference between Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALC) and L-Carnitine?

A12: As with many amino acids, L-carnitine can be found in several forms. ALC is the acetylated form of L-carnitine know to be a more stable form of L-carnitine. Interestingly, ALC passes the blood brain barrier more efficiently than

L-carnitine. Hence, ALC has been the focus of research involving memory and cognition enhancement while L-Carnitine has been the focus of research in the area of cardiovascular health.

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Q13: At what age can children start taking supplements?

A13: Pediatricians often recommended vitamin in drop form for babies. Young children can take DRA-level chewable vitamins as soon as convenient. Check with your healthcare practitioner for more details.

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Q14: What is the difference between Pycnogenol, pine bark and grape seed extracts? Is one better than the other?

A14: Pycnogenol (a patented form of pine bark extract), pine bark and grape seed extracts are excellent sources of a class of important bioflavonoids polyphenol flavanoid compounds called OPC's (oligomeric proanthocyanidins). It is important to understand that OPC's are not the only beneficial compounds found

in these products. When one looks at the chemical assays for pine bark and grape seed extracts, it is clear that while they both contain OPC's, the quantity and quality of the OPC's differ. What is also evident is that there are compounds, such as organic acids and catechins in pine bark and gallates in grape seed, that further differentiate these two important materials. Therefore, grape seed extract is not

better than pine bark and vice versa. Both materials are important and may be best utilized when taken together in a complementary way. Which is better carrots or oranges? Which is better vitamin C| or vitamin E? The answer is that we are healthier with both choices.

However, it is important to realize that pine bark and grape seeds can vary in nutritional content. Thus, it is better to utilize trade-marked forms that are consistent in origin, extraction and testing.

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Q15: Does this (esterified) form of vitamin E have any
antioxidant action?

A15: This is basic biochemistry and does not involve "our position" or anybody else's position. It is textbook biochemistry. The ester form is used for supplements because it is the most stable form and does not easily react with oxygen. Therefore it is not an antioxidant in the pill. HOWEVER, when the ester contacts the hydrochloric acid in the gastric juices, the ester is cleaved and fresh tocopherol is formed which is a powerful antioxidant and readily absorbed and transported throughout the body to protect the body as a fat-soluble antioxidant.
A thorough discussion is found in my interview with Dr. Maret Traber at the following url.
http://www.NutritionFocus.com/nutrition_library/traber2.html

Parts one and three may also interest you.
http://www.NutritionFocus.com/nutrition_library/traber1.html
http://www.NutritionFocus.com/nutrition_library/traber3.html

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