Labels on food supplements can be difficult to decipher.
It's a shame, however, to deprive ourselves of their virtues just because this jungle of information seems unfathomable.
That's why we've put together a little lexicon to help you find your way around. I promise, it's simple and concise!
This is the phase where ingested nutrients are transferred from the digestive tract into the bloodstream to be transported to the various organs of the body.
It is important to note that not all vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the same way and that a nutrient is never 100% absorbed. Indeed, the absorption of a nutrient depends on many factors (health of the person, form of intake of the nutrient...). Vitamin C, for example, has an absorption rate of about 25%.
Molecules that make up proteins (like links in a bicycle chain). Amino acids are essential to our body. There are 2 types of amino acids:
- Essential amino acids: our body cannot make them on its own. They are obtained through our diet or through food supplements.
- Non-essential amino acids: our body can synthesize them by itself.
Said of a plant that improves the body's resistance to fatigue and stress. The best known adaptogenic plants are ginseng, rhodiola and ashwagandha.
These are substances without active ingredients. They are added to industrial products to improve their taste, texture or appearance.
They are classified by group, according to their usefulness. There are for example:
- anti-caking agents,
- bulking agents,
- coating agents,
- flavour enhancers,
Also called filler. This is a food additive whose role is to facilitate the filling of capsules or the compression of tablets. The most commonly used: maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose (E460) or di-calcium phosphate.
As the latter are controversial for their potential health effects, at Novoma we systematically opt for neutral alternatives such as acacia gum or rice starch.
Tip before buying a food supplement: be sure to read the list of ingredients on the label!
Substances or micro-organisms that can trigger allergic reactions. Among the best known, we can mention :
- cat hair,
- certain foods such as fish, peanuts, eggs..,
Reference Contributions (RC)
Recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. They are used for the labelling of foodstuffs.
Bioavailability is a criterion used to assess the rate and speed of absorption of an active ingredient (drug or nutrient). What is absorption? Review the first term in this lexicon! 😉
Galenic form, intended to be consumed orally, consisting of a soft shell and containing liquid active ingredients. The soft shells are most often made from gelatin of animal origin (marine, bovine or porcine).
Here is the official definition: food supplements are "foodstuffs whose purpose is to supplement the normal diet and which constitute a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination" (Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament, transposed by Decree No. 2006-352 of 20 March 2006).
To explain it more simply, these are products formulated from nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or plant extracts, and which are intended to compensate for certain deficiencies or to supplement a diet.
Intended to be consumed orally, they can be offered in different forms: capsules, tablets, powders, liquids, ampoules, etc.
Solid dosage form, intended to be consumed orally, obtained by compressing powder.
A neutral substance, without an active ingredient, that facilitates the absorption, preservation or administration of an active ingredient (e.g. a drug). Colourings, preservatives and flavourings are excipients.
Substance obtained by isolating the active part of the plant (roots, leaves, fruits, seeds, etc.) and subjecting it to a series of processes (e.g. to obtain a plant extract in powder form: maceration, pressing, filtration, concentration, drying and grinding).
The extract is said to be "titrated" or "standardized" when the concentration of active ingredient is precisely measured.
The process of assembling one or more active ingredients with excipients to produce a drug or dietary supplement.
In connection with Galen, father of modern European medicine. The galenic form simply means the form given to a medicine or a food supplement: tablet, capsule, powder, liquid...
Galenic form in the form of a hard shell, intended to be consumed orally, containing active ingredients in powder form. There are capsules:
- vegetable: the two most widespread vegetable coating agents are HPMC (HydroxyPropylMethylCellulose or E464) and pullulan (or E1204).
- in animal gelatin: of marine or bovine origin.
Made in France
It is a mention affixed to products to indicate that the manufacturing is made in France. It should be noted that a food supplement can have the "Made in France" label even if the ingredients used do not originate from France; in fact, it is the last and most significant stage of production that determines the origin of the product.
These are the basic ingredients that are used to make or produce finished products. It's like leeks and potatoes before you make soup out of them.
Non-organic bodies found in the earth. They are of the mineral kingdom. They are present in small quantities in our body, but are essential to our life.
We find for example:
A nutraceutical is a product made from food substances, but offered in the form of tablets, powder, capsules ... It provides a beneficial or protective physiological effect against certain chronic diseases.
A genetically modified organism is a living thing whose genetic makeup has been altered by humans. This is done in order to obtain a new characteristic.
For example: introducing a new gene into corn to make it resistant to insects.
It is the opposite of the excipient. The active ingredient is the substance in the drug product that has therapeutic properties.
Active ingredients can also be found in some plants.
In chemistry, a titration operation is performed when we want to know the concentration of a chemical substance. In the context of food supplements, this corresponds to the concentration of active ingredients in a product.
Abbreviation that stands for International Unit. It is a unit of measurement used to indicate the dosage of an ingredient. While most ingredient dosages are expressed in milligrams or grams, some are expressed in IU, such as vitamin D or vitamin E. The calculation formula varies depending on the ingredient.
That's a word we hear a lot! Vegans are followers of veganism. Yes, but what is veganism? It's a global philosophy that excludes all animal products (food of course, but also certain clothes, cosmetics, leisure activities...).
Exit eggs, milk, honey, leather bags or shoes, meat, fish...
Vitamins are organic molecules that are essential to the proper functioning of our body. They are mainly provided by food. There are 13 vitamins essential to our life, classified in 2 groups :
- water-soluble vitamins (9): group B vitamins (B1 to B12) and vitamin C.
- fat-soluble vitamins (4): vitamins A, E, D and K.
Now you know (almost) everything about food supplements!
You now know everything about the terms that govern this universe and you can choose the supplements that are best suited to your needs.