This famed vision-enhancing nutrient was isolated in 1930, the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. The body acquires some of its vitamin A through animal fats. The rest it synthesizes in the intestines from the beta-carotene and other carotenoids abundant in many fruits and vegetables.
Essential for hundreds of chemical reactions that occur in the body every second, the mineral magnesium has received surprisingly little attention over the years. Recent findings, however, suggest that it also has important health-promoting benefits, from an ability to prevent heart disease to a role in treating such chronic conditions as fibromyalgia and diabetes.
Glucosamine, a sugar produced in the body and found in small amounts in foods, plays an important role in maintaining cartilage, the gel-like material that cushions joints. When taken as a dietary supplement, glucosamine may help to relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disorder that affects 12% of the population, in which cartilage has worn down. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers report improvements with glucosamine supplements as well, as do individuals with other types of joint injuries. Some 70 countries around the world sanction glucosamine as a treatment for individuals with mild to moderately severe osteoarthritis.
Bromelain is the name of a group of powerful protein-digesting, or proteolytic, enzymes that are found in the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Discovered in 1957, and widely studied since then, bromelain is particularly useful for reducing muscle and tissue inflammation and as a digestive aid. Supplements are made from enzymes found in the pineapple stem.