Glossary

Welcome to the Glossary Page!

Here you can find the definitions for the scientific terms used throughout this blog! This page will be updated as new articles are posted.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

–A–

Antibody
A protein produced by the immune system that is used to identify and neutralize antigens (i.e., bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites).

Antimicrobial
An agent that kills microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi.

Antioxidant
A molecule that prevents the oxidation of other molecules, with often produces unstable products called free radicals.

Atherosclerosis
Also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Characterized by the thickening of the wall of an artery as a result of an accumulation of cholesterol, triglycerides, white blood cells, and calcium and other crystallized materials.

–B–

Binders
Substances that hold together the ingredients of a tablet. Commonly in the form of a sugar derivative, including lactose, sucrose, cellulose or modified cellulose, maltitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.

Bioavailability
The proportion of a substance that is capable of being absorbed and available for use or storage by the body.

–C–

Calcification
The accumulation of calcium salts in a body tissue, normally occurring in the formation of bone.

Cell proliferation
Cell growth and division that leads to an increase in the number of cells.

Circadian clock
A biochemical mechanism that oscillates with the daylight and darkness cycles. It regulates various tissue-specific physiological activity on a daily basis (e.g., different levels of secretion of melatonin by the pineal gland, changes in core body temperature, etc.)

Coagulation
The clotting of blood; the process of blood changing from liquid to gel.

Coatings
Substances added to the outside of a tablet to ease swallowing of larger tablets, and to prevent deterioration from moisture. A common coating used is hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC).

Coenzyme
A non-protein chemical that is required for an enzyme to carry out its biological activity.

Cofactor
See coenzyme.

Collagen
The main structural protein of many connective tissues in animals.

Cytokine
A broad category of small proteins that are important in cell signaling. Includes chemokines, interferons, interleukins, and lymphokines.

–D–

DNA
A molecule that encodes the genetic instructions in all known living organisms and many viruses.

Dietary fibre
The indigestible portion of food derived from plants. Soluble fibre that is fermented by intestinal bacteria produce healthful compounds, while insoluble fibre eases the movement of food through the digestive system.

–E–

Endogenous
Growing or originating from within an organism.

Enzyme
A complex protein that is responsible in carrying out a particular metabolic or biochemical reaction.

Excipient
A substance added to pharmaceuticals and supplements to aid in stabilizing and holding together the ingredients of these products. Although these substances are inactive, they can still influence the efficacy and quality of the active medicinal/supplemental ingredients.

–F–

Fatty acid
A carboxylic acid (represented as C(O)OH) with a carbon chain of up to 28 atoms. Derived from triglycerides or phospholipids and are a source of fuel for the body. Classified as short-chain (>6 carbon atoms), medium-chain (6-12 carbon atoms), long-chain (13-21 carbon atoms), and very long chain (>22 carbon atoms).

Fillers
Substances that add volume/mass to a tablet or capsule. These are used to facilitate the precise measuring of very small active ingredients and for practical manufacturing. Some common fillers are: sucrose, lactose, mannitol, sorbitol, calcium carbonate, magnesium stearate, and plant cellulose.

Free radicals
Unstable molecules that are a product of a number of metabolic and biochemical reactions in the body.

–H–

Homeostasis
Regulation of the body’s internal conditions to remain stable and relatively constant.

–L–

Lactulose
A synthetic, non-digestible sugar. It is not normally found in raw milk, and is a product of the heating process during pasteurization.

Lipid peroxidation
The degradation of lipids by the action of free radicals; oxidative damage to lipids.

–M–

Macronutrients
Nutrients that provide the majority of the energy required for an organism to function. The three basic components of macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Metabolism
The various chemical reactions within living cells that are necessary to sustain life. These reactions include the breakdown of organic matter for energy and the use of energy to construct various components of cells.

Metabolite
Products of metabolism, which is defined as the various chemical reactions within living cells that are necessary to sustain life.

Micronutrients
Nutrients, namely vitamins and minerals, that are required in small quantities for the body to carry out many physiological functions. Micronutrients must be obtained from the diet.

Mitochondrion
A membrane-bound organelle responsible for energy production that is found in many different types of cells.

Myelin sheath
The outer layer of neurons that is essential for proper functioning.

–N–

Neurotransmitter
Endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from one neuron to another ‘target’ neuron to regulate various functions and actions.

–O–

Oligosaccharide
A chain of 3 to 9 simple sugar units (i.e., monosaccharides).

Omega-3 fatty acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids with a double bond at the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain. Three types of omega-3s – ALA, EPA, and DHA – play important roles in human physiology.

Oxidative damage
The detrimental effects of reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, on a cell.

–P–

Plasma
A liquid component of blood that holds blood cells.

Platelet
A type of cell in the blood whose function is to stop bleeding by clumping together (i.e., aggregating) with other platelets to form a clot at the site of a wound.

Precursor
In chemistry, a compound that participates in the chemical reaction that produces another compound.

Probiotics
Microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed.

–R–

Reactive oxygen species
Commonly abbreviated as ROS, these are chemically reactive molecules (i.e., free radicals) containing oxygen.

Rheumatoid arthritis
An autoimmune disease resulting from chronic, systemic inflammation. Affects many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints.

–S–

Synergy
The interaction of multiple elements in a system that produces an effect that is greater than the individual sum of the elements’ individual effects.