Description Choline is a vitamin-like water-soluble organic compound.
It is an essential nutrient naturally present in some foods and in dietary supplements. Although the body can produce small amounts of choline in the liver, we still need to consume it in foods to gain enough.
Function/ Used for Choline is a source of methyl groups needed for many steps in metabolism. The body needs choline to synthesize phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two major phospholipids vital for cell membranes and also the neurotransmitter acetylcoline. It is vital for good brain health and brain development in unborn babies1.
Choline also contributes to normal lipid metabolism, homocysteine metabolism and liver function1.
Intake Adequate Intake (AI) as recommended by EFSA2: 400mg/day

The AI for pregnant women is set at 480mg/day and for lactating women is raised to 520mg/day.

As a supplement Commonly available as a single supplement. Also available in combination with B-complex vitamins, and in some multivitamin/multimineral products.
Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs amount of choline they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.
Found in (dietary sources) Good sources of choline include mostly animal products such as eggs, milk, oily fish such as salmon, and meat. Plant-based sources include cruciferous vegetables, beans, mushrooms, peanuts and soya products.
Deficiency Choline deficiency (although rare) can cause muscle and liver damage as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)2.

Genetic pre-dispositions and gender can influence individual requirements for choline3.

Precautions and contraindications Safe Upper Level (Guidance Level): not established.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding Suggested choline intakes increase during pregnancy and lactation2 (see ‘Intake’).
Interactions e.g. with other medications Choline is not known to have any clinically relevant interactions with medications.
Adverse effects Choline is considered to be very safe in quantities consumed through the diet. Excessive intake (>7g/day) has been found to cause hypotension and gastrointestinal effects alongside a fishy body odour. Choline has also been shown to increase trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) production which has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease2.
References 1 EU Community Register of Nutrition and Health Claims http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=register.home
2 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Dietary Reference Values for choline. EFSA Journal 2016. 14(8): e04484. [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2016.4484
3 National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements; Choline: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals [online]. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#en4


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Description Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), sometimes called Ubiquinone, is a naturally occurring vitamin-like substance produced by the body.

It is found in the mitochondria of all cells in the body, but particularly in those of the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

Co-enzyme Q10 is produced in the body but the ability to synthesise CoQ10 reduces with age.

Function/ Used for CoQ10 is needed for the process that converts the energy from food into energy that can be used by the body.
CoQ10 also works as an antioxidant, neutralising potentially damaging free radicals to stabilise cell membranes and protect both lipids (fats) and proteins. It also works to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E.

CoQ10 is also essential for the normal function of the heart muscle.

Intake N/A


As a supplement CoQ10 is sold in capsules and tablets in strengths of 10–200 mg.

Absorption is increased when capsules containing CoQ10 in an oil base are taken with meals.1

Found in (dietary sources) CoQ10 can be mainly found in organ meats such as liver and kidneys; fish and shellfish; and the germ portion of whole grains.

It can also be found in smaller quantities in soya beans, nuts and vegetables, particularly spinach and broccoli.

Deficiency N/A
Precautions and contraindications CoQ10 should not be used to treat cardiovascular disorders without medical supervision.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding Safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.
Interactions e.g. with other medications In patients on warfarin (an anti-coagulant) and heart medication (eg. Beta-blockers), high doses of CoQ10 should be used with caution.

The synthesis of CoQ10 follows a similar biochemical pathway as cholesterol and, therefore, drugs which lower cholesterol such as statins also inhibit CoQ10 production in the body.

Other drugs which may reduce levels of CoQ10 include hypertensive drugs (used to treat high blood pressure, e.g. clonidine, hydralazine, methyldopa), thiazide diuretics (e.g. hydrochlorothiazide) and tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline).2

Adverse effects CoQ10 appears to be safe and relatively well tolerated in doses of 10–200 mg daily.
There are occasional reports of gastrointestinal discomfort, dizziness and skin rash, but these tend to occur with doses in excess of 200mg daily.1
References 1 Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.

2 Gaby A.R et al. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. Health Notes. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006


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Description Glucosamine is a substance which occurs naturally within the human body.  It is found within the fluid around joints and within other connective tissues.
Function/ Used for The body uses glucosamine to build and repair cartilage and it may help to maintain healthy joints. It has an anti-inflammatory action and has been used to relieve pain, stiffness and swelling of the knees, fingers and other joints, as well as arthritic back and neck pain.

Glucosamine may also increase the production of cartilage components and has been used to speed up the healing of sprains and strengthen joints.

A 2005 Cochrane review of 20 randomised controlled trials demonstrated the effectiveness of Glucosamine in the reduction of pain and improvement of joint function in osteoarthritis and also demonstrated its safety2.

Intake N/A


As a supplement Glucosamine comes in capsule, tablet or powder forms.

It is available as a synthetically manufactured food supplement in the form of glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride.

A dose of glucosamine sulphate 500mg three times a day (1500mg daily) is generally recommended. A minimum of 4 weeks may be needed for the full benefit to be seen.1

Glucosamine is sometimes provided in supplements with chondroitin, an important component of cartilage, with which it may act synergistically.

Found in (dietary sources) Small amounts are provided in the diet by animal and fish products.
Precautions and contraindications People who are allergic to shellfish should not take glucosamine supplements, unless taking the vegetarian form.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding No problems have been reported, but there have not been sufficient studies to guarantee the safety of glucosamine in pregnancy and breast-feeding.1
Interactions e.g. with other medications None known. Although insulin or oral hypoglycaemics used for the treatment of diabetes may be less effective. People with diabetes taking glucosamine should be aware of its potential influence on glucose metabolism1.
Adverse effects Glucosamine is relatively non-toxic, although some side-effects reported include constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, nausea, drowsiness, headache and skin rash1.
References 1.     Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.

2.     Towheed et al. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthrtitis. Cochrane database, issue 2, 2005.


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Description Prebiotics are forms of dietary fibre which cannot be digested, but which can be fermented within the gut by specific colonies of gut bacteria that are recognised as being beneficial to health. The fermentation process feeds the bacterial species and produces chemical byproducts which are also thought to be beneficial.1

Different types of fibre support different species of bacteria.

Function/ Used for There are a number of different types of prebiotic recognised which support different types of gut bacteria; the two most researched forms are:

  • Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) which is fermented by the Lactobacillus forms of gut bacteria
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) which is fermented by the Bifidobacterium colonies in the gut

The benefits of prebiotics are still being explored and may go beyond those conferred by probiotics (the colonies of beneficial bacteria that FOS and GOS support).

Current understanding of prebiotics indicates that they support the health of the gastrointestinal tract, may reduce blood lipid levels and may support the immune system.2

Intake N/A
As a supplement Both FOS and GOS are widely available in health food stores across the UK.

Dosage will vary between products; however it is a regulatory requirement that dosage is noted on the packaging of any food supplement.

Found in (dietary sources) N/A
Deficiency N/A
Precautions and contraindications None known.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding No known problems.
Interactions e.g. with other medications None reported.
Adverse effects Some reports of flatulence, bloating and diarrhoea which is reversed on stopping treatment.
  1. Schrezenmeir J, de Vrese M. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics – approaching a definition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001; 73:2 361s-364s
  2. Gibson GR, Hutkin R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nature Reviews GI & Hep 2017; 14:491–502


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Description A probiotic is a live microbial food supplement that contains microbial substances normally found in the gut.
Function/ Used for Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus are consumed to improve digestion. Once in the gut they work by multiplying and restoring the balance of the normal bacterial population of the intestine.

Probiotics may also help to support the health of the immune system.

Intake N/A


As a supplement Available as bio-yoghurts or fermented milk based drinks. Also as capsules and tablets.

To be effective, they should be consumed daily.  Many probiotics should be kept refrigerated and should be consumed before the expiry date.

There is no established dose for these products.

Found in (dietary sources) N/A
Deficiency N/A
Precautions and contraindications None known.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding There is no evidence of adverse effects in pregnancy.
Interactions e.g. with other medications None reported1.
Adverse effects None known.
References 1.            Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.


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Description Royal Jelly is a milky-white substance produced by the salivary glands of worker bees as a food source for the queen bee. It is an essential food for the queen bee.
Function/ Used for Royal jelly supplements are thought to assist general well-being.  It may have antiseptic properties and also act as a vasodilator (widening of blood vessels).
Intake N/A


As a supplement Royal jelly is available in the form of tablets and capsules. The dose is not established. Dietary supplements provide 250-500mg daily1.
Found in (dietary sources) N/A
Deficiency N/A
Precautions and contraindications Not to be taken by asthma sufferers or those allergic to bee stings.
Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding No problems reported, but there is insufficient evidence to guarantee the safety of royal jelly in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Interactions e.g. with other medications None reported
Adverse effects Allergic reactions, which can be severe.
References 1.            Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.


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