How Do Other Nutritional Supplements Work?

Reviewed on 2/17/2022

How do other nutritional supplements work?

Nutritional supplements are medical food products used for dietary management in a diverse range of conditions, as an adjunct to medical treatment for a particular condition. Nutritional products that do not fall into any specific nutritional class are categorized as other nutritional supplements.

Other nutritional supplements include the following:

  • Amino acids mixture: Amino acids mixture is a combination of several amino acids that provide the nutritional requirements for the synthesis and proper balance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) that brain uses to transmit signals. Amino acids mixture is used as a supplement to manage pain, inflammation, and numbness caused by nerve damage.
  • Caprylidene: Caprylidene is a type of dietary fat (triglyceride) derived from coconut oil, which was developed as a medical food for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, to provide an alternate source of energy to the brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an impaired ability to use glucose, which is normally the main source of energy for all cells.
    • Caprylidene is metabolized into ketone bodies that the brain cells can use for energy, instead of glucose. Caprylidene (Axona) was marketed as a medical food, however, in 2013 FDA determined it was misbranded as a medical food and must undergo clinical trials as a drug. The drug has not received FDA approval.
  • Fish oil triglycerides: Fish oil triglycerides are intravenously administered to preterm or severely ill babies with parenteral-nutrition-associated cholestasis, a liver condition caused by prolonged parenteral (intravenous) nutrition.
    • Fish oil triglycerides provide the required calories and essential fatty acids which have many functions including providing energy, maintaining the structure and function of cell membranes, and regulating gene expression.
  • Flavocoxid/citrated zinc bisglycinate: Flavocoxid/citrated zinc bisglycinate (Limbrel) was marketed as a medical food product for managing osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis (joint inflammation). Flavocoxid is a blend of two flavonoids, types of nutrients derived from plants, that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
    • The FDA has formally requested the manufacturer to recall all Limbrel products because of the risk of liver injury and other serious adverse events associated with the products. FDA continues to investigate the products and has advised consumers not to use any Limbrel products.
  • Glutamine: Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is prescribed as nutritional support in the treatment of sickle cell disease and short bowel syndrome. Glutamine produced by the body is usually adequate during normal conditions, but the body may require additional amounts to cope with stress caused by illnesses.
    • Glutamine is essential for many cellular functions including synthesis of protein and glutathione (antioxidant), energy production, and immune function. Glutamine increases antioxidant synthesis, reducing oxidative stress in sickle cell disease. The sickle-shaped red blood cells are more susceptible to oxidative damage than normal red cells.
    • Glutamine plays a role in gastrointestinal cell growth, function and regeneration, and may help improve bowel health when administered in combination with growth hormone for short bowel syndrome, a condition that leads to nutrient malabsorption due to inadequate bowel length.
  • Infant formula: Infant formulas are prepared from cow’s milk that’s altered to resemble breast milk, soy protein, or protein hydrolysate for babies allergic to both cow’s milk and soy proteins. Infant formulas meet all the nutritional needs of a baby younger than 12 months and may be used exclusively or to supplement breast milk.
  • Lactase enzyme: Lactase is a digestive enzyme that breaks up lactose, the sugar in milk and milk products, into glucose and galactose, simple sugars that can be easily absorbed by the body. Lactose intolerant individuals lack lactase enzyme and may take it as a supplement to help digest milk products.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are ethyl esters containing two types of fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega 3 fatty acids are used to reduce triglyceride levels and cardiovascular disease risk, and to supplement omega 3 deficiency.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the synthesis of triglyceride in the liver, increase the breakdown of fats in the liver in a process known as beta-oxidation, and increase the activity of lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme that degrades triglyceride in the bloodstream.

What are the uses of other nutritional supplements?

Most of the other nutritional supplements are taken orally as tablets, chewable tablets, capsules, solutions, or oral powders mixed in water, beverages, or food. Fish oil triglycerides are administered as intravenous (IV) infusion into the vein in newborn infants who are on parenteral nutrition.

Uses of other nutritional supplements include:

  • Amino acids mixture:
    • Dietary management of the metabolic processes of pain, inflammation, and loss of sensation due to peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in adults
  • Caprylidene:
    • Dietary management of the metabolic processes associated with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease
  • Fish oil triglycerides:
    • Source of calories and fatty acids in infants with parenteral nutrition-associated cholestasis (impaired bile flow from the liver)
  • Flavocoxid/citrated zinc bisglycinate:
    • Dietary management of the metabolic processes of osteoarthritis
  • Glutamine:
    • To reduce acute complications of sickle cell disease
    • Treatment of short bowel syndrome (malabsorption of nutrients due to shortness in the length of small intestines) in patients receiving specialized nutritional support, used in conjunction with recombinant human growth hormone
  • Infant formula:
    • To feed babies as a supplement to or instead of breast milk
    • Lactase enzyme:
    • Lactose intolerance
    • Infant colic
  • Omega 3 fatty acids:
    • Hypertriglyceridemia, as an adjunct to diet to reduce triglyceride levels and cardiovascular disease risk in adult patients
    • Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency in patients with cardiovascular disease 

What are side effects of other nutritional supplements?

Side effects of other nutritional supplements vary with each type of nutritional product. A few of the most common side effects may include:

  • Amino acids mixture:
    • Nausea
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Diarrhea
    • Temporary rash
  • Caprylidene:
  • Fish oil triglycerides:
  • Flavocoxid/citrated zinc bisglycinate:
  • Glutamine:
    • Peripheral edema
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passage)
    • Cough
    • Abdominal pain
    • Tenesmus (the feeling of urge to pass stools)
    • Dizziness
    • Back pain, chest pain, pain in extremities
    • Rash
    • Ear or hearing symptoms
  • Infant formula:
    • Cow’s milk or soy protein allergy
    • Digestive problems such as:
      • Gas
      • Diarrhea
      • Upset stomach
    • Increased risk of:
      • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious gastrointestinal condition (rare)
      • Respiratory infection
      • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Lactase enzyme:
    • Allergic reactions such as:
      • Rash
      • Itching
      • Swelling
      • Dizziness
      • Trouble breathing
  • Omega 3 fatty acids:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these products do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of some of the other nutritional supplements?

Generic and brand names of some of the other nutritional supplements include:

  • amino acids mixture
  • Axona
  • caprylic triglyceride
  • caprylidene
  • Colief
  • Endari
  • Enfamil
  • fish oil triglycerides
  • flavocoxid/citrated zinc bisglycinate
  • glutamine
  • infant formula
  • Isomil
  • Lactaid Fast Act Caplets
  • Lactaid Fast Act Chewables
  • Lactaid Original
  • lactase enzyme
  • Limbrel
  • Lovaza
  • Nursoy
  • NutreStore
  • omega 3 fatty acids
  • Omega-3-acid ethyl esters
  • Omegaven
  • Omtryg
  • Percura
  • Pregestimil
  • Prosobee
  • Similac
  • Soyalac
  • Vascazen

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