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Understanding Glyconutrients

You say you don't know what glyconutrients are? You are not alone. Perhaps you have heard a bit about glyconutrients but you don't really know what they are or how they could benefit you. Understanding the role the glyconutrients play in the overall scheme of nutrition is very important if you are interested in supporting your own health and the health of those you know and love.

In the 26th edition of Harper's Illustrated Biochemistry, chapter 47 is a new chapter on the subject of glycoproteins. These microscopic structures are essential to all cellular function. They are constructed of building blocks of protein and eight different monosaccharide sugars. That's right, glyconutrients are sugars. These necessary sugars are not the same as the table sugar we often think of when we look at all of the latest diet fads. Instead these glyconutrients are needed by every single cell of your body to perform essential functions.

What are some of the functions of glyconutrients and glycoproteins? Your body is a collection of cells. To function together, your cells must be able to communicate. Collectively glyconutrients are like the letters of the alphabet. They form together to create the words the cells use to express the instructions of your DNA. Glycoprotein structures allow the human egg to identify the human sperm, thus making fertilization possible.

Glyconutrients also influence hormone function, where they intervene in the release and transportation of some hormones. With over 80 different hormones controlling every facet of your life, can you see how important just this one role is?

Individually, glyconutrients have been shown to have specialized roles in the body. Just one of the sugars known as mannose inhibits certain pro inflammatory molecules causing asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and even lupus. In cellular studies it has been shown that mannose inhibits tumor growth and blocks communication between tumor cells.

The research of glyconutrients has created a new field known as glycobiology or glycomics. In the February, 2003 issue of the Technology Review Journal, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology listed glycomics as one of the ten immerging discoveries that will change the world. Why? Possibly it is because the discovery of the role of these glyconutrients has fundamentally altered our understanding of cellular biology. This new field of study opens new doors in the understanding of nutritional needs as well as the development of new medical technology and of new approaches to therapeutic medications.

You can apply this new science to your daily life without waiting. Research has shown that only two of these eight sugars are prevalent in our modern diet. Supplementation that contains a patented blend of these glyconutrients has been available from one company for over ten years. Glyconutrients should be considered an essential part of any person's overall nutritional program.

Dave Saunders is a certified nutritional educator, wellness coach, member of the American International Association of Nutritional Education (AIANE) and author. He is also the host of a weekly, nation-wide telephone lecture on health and nutrition.

For additional information, please visit his site on nutrition and glyconutrient at or or email Dave at


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