Nutritional Information

Optimal Nutrition

     Optimal nutrition means different things to different people. We all know the basics: eat your vegetables, cut down on fats and sweets, drink plenty of water - things we've heard since we were kids. Some of us heed this advice and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and other wholesome foods, but others may eat broccoli once or twice a week and think that their nutritional bases are covered. Chances are, we could all benefit by doing more to ensure that our nutritional needs are being met. Why is this so important? Because optimal nutrition is essential for the healthy functioning of our body. Without it, subtle functional changes may occur that impede our progress on the road to vibrant health. You may not be aware of any problems, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your body is functioning optimally. An understanding of the many roles that nutrients play in our body is the first step in achieving that goal.

Nutrients for Life

     The nutrients required to sustain life are the macronutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, and fats - which supply energy and build tissue; the micronutrients - vitamins and minerals - which are used by the body in much smaller amounts but are important in the regulation of all body processes and also act as structural components; and water, the overall vital nutrient sustaining all our life processes.

      If we supply our bodies with adequate amounts of these nutrients, and in the proper ratios, then we help ensure optimal nutrition and a solid foundation for health. But what about you?

Are You Meeting Your Nutritional Needs?

     Chances are that you may not be receiving all the nutrients you need from the foods you eat. According to recent health surveys, most of us don't even meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of some essential nutrients, and few of us consume the recommended five daily servings of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.

     So how do you know if you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs? There are many signs that are indicative of optimal health: high energy; ideal weight; good muscle development; smooth and clear skin; glossy hair; clear eyes; normal appetite, digestion and elimination; and alert mental functions. If you are lacking in any of these areas, your foundation for health may be missing some important pieces.


     Why is it vital that we supply our bodies with optimal regular intake of all micronutrients? Because vitamins and minerals are essential for a myriad of processes in our body; energy metabolism; growth and maintenance of skin, bones and other tissues; immune system function; brain functions; hormone production and regulation; detoxification; and many others. Because each micronutrient plays indispensable and diverse roles, a single deficiency can adversely impact these body functions.

     Some of the micronutrients have achieved greater fame than others; for instance, everyone knows that calcium is essential for strong bones, vitamin E is good for our skin, and vitamin A is important for eyesight. But do you know why we need zinc, or niacin, or vitamin B6? By looking at the following chart, you can see some of the important and varied roles that each micronutrient plays in our body.

Foundation For Health

     Eating a well-balanced diet of wholesome, nutritious foods and taking a scientifically balanced multiple vitamin/mineral supplement helps to ensure that your body receives the optimum levels of each vital nutrient it needs. This is an essential foundation for good health.

Nutrientsort icon Function in the Body
Beta-Carotene and Mixed Carotenoids*

     Used in the body to form Vitamin A. Supports antioxidant activity in the body.4


     Plays a role as a lipotropic nutrient and a methyl donor. Also plays a role in homocysteine metabolism.

Bioflavonoid Complex**

     Helps strengthen the integrity of blood vessel walls (capillaries).2,4


     Supports energy metabolism and healthy skin, hair and mucous membranes.2,4


     Essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Helps maintain cell membranes, connective tissue and normal blood pressure. Also aids in blood clotting.1,4


     Plays a role as a lipotropic nutrient by aiding in the production and transportation of fats from the liver. Supports normal nerve and brain function.1


     Functions in the uptake of blood sugar (glucose) into the cells and the regulation of blood sugar levels.4


     Plays a role in the development and maintenance of the cardiovascular system, the skeletal system and red blood cells. Plays a role in the absorption and release of iron, and is involved in the production of collagen, elastin and melanin. Also aids in the conversion of nutrients and energy.2,4 

Folic acid

     Regulates cell division and the transfer of inherited traits from one cell to another. Supports the health of gums, red blood cells, skin, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.1,4


     A component of cell membranes and functions in nerve transmission and the regulation of certain enzymes. Lipotropic nutrient involved in fat metabolism.4


     A component of the thyroid hormones which regulate metabolism, growth, reproduction, nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis, the growth of skin and hair and the use of oxygen by cells.4


     Acts as the oxygen-carrying component of the blood and therefore determines how much oxygen reaches body tissues, including the brain, muscles, heart and liver.  Also supports the immune system.1,4


     Plays an important role in healthy heart function, in the conversion of carbohydrates, protein, and fats to energy, the manufacture of proteins and the synthesis of the genetic material within each cell. Also supports muscle relaxation and contraction and nerve transmission.2,4


     Plays a role in the formation of connective tissue and bone. Supports healthy brain function and reproduction. Plays a role in energy production and is necessary for normal glucose metabolism.2,4


     Is required for the activity of several enzymes, is important in the mobilization of iron from storage and is necessary for normal growth and development.2,4


     Plays an important role in the release of energy from carbohydrates. Aids in the breakdown of protein and fats, in the synthesis of fats and certain hormones and in the formation of red blood cells.4


Plays a role in B vitamin metabolism, as an enzyme cofactor.3

Pantothenic Acid

     Is converted to a substance called coenzyme A, an important catalyst in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and protein for energy. Plays a role in the production of fats, cholesterol, bile, vitamin D, red blood cells, adrenal gland hormones and neurotransmitters.4


     Essential for healthy bones and teeth. Also a component of all soft tissues and cell membranes. Helps maintain the pH balance in the blood and helps activate the B vitamins. 2,4


     Plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve conduction, regulation of the heartbeat, production of energy and the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins.2,4


Plays an important role as a component of the antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase.2,4


May support healthy blood glucose metabolism.2

Vitamin A

     Involved in normal eyesight; immune system response; cell differentiation; embryonic development; and healthy epithelial tissue, the tissue that lines the body's external and internal surfaces.4,5

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

     Plays a major role in the conversion of protein, carbohydrate and fat into energy production. Also plays a role in detoxification, heart function, and the cells of the nervous system.1,2

Vitamin B12

     Supports the health of the nervous system and the development of red blood cells. Aids in the replication of the genetic code within each cell, and plays a role in the processing of carbohydrate, protein and fat in the body.1,4

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

     Essential for cellular energy production. Also supports hormone production, neurotransmitter function, healthy eyes and skin and the production of red blood cells.1,2

Vitamin B6

     Important in protein synthesis and the manufacture of hormones, red blood cells and enzymes. Plays a role in hormone regulation, brain function, skin health and is crucial for a healthy immune system.1,2,4

Vitamin C

An important antioxidant, which helps protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. Supports the body's immune system. Essential for the formation and maintenance of collagen, a protein that forms the basis for connective tissue. Plays a role in healthy gums, skin and vision.1,2,4

Vitamin D3

     Functions as a pro-hormone by regulating the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorous. Aids in the formation of normal bones and teeth. Also plays a role in healthy immune function.1,2,4

Vitamin E

     An important antioxidant. Protects the health and function of the nervous system and supports healthy skin.1,2,5

Vitamin K1

     Essential for normal blood clotting. Also plays a role in bone formation and the regulation of blood calcium levels.1


     Is a component of numerous enzymes and plays a role in protein synthesis, blood sugar balance, wound healing and brain function. Also important in the maintenance of healthy skin, the immune system, nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, the genetic code and normal blood levels of vitamin A.1,4

Healthy Bones Last a Lifetime


Bone is a Living Tissue

     Bone is a living tissue that forms the framework around which the body is built. This framework, or skeleton, contains over 200 separate bones that support and give shape to the body and protect its vital organs. Contrary to a common misconception, bone is a living substance! In fact, bone is one of the most active tissues in the body. It is constantly being broken down and being rebuilt in a process called remodeling and, like any other living tissue, needs nourishment to stay strong and healthy.

How Bone is Formed

     To begin the process of bone formation, bone cells use proteins and other building blocks to produce a substance known as collagen. Collagen fibers develop quickly to form an organic mesh, or net, that calcium, phosphorus, and numerous other minerals attach to. Over a period of days and weeks (and through a crystallization process involving substitution and addition of various minerals) the mixture of different minerals attaching to this organic net changes, producing the finished product called hydroxyapatite crystals. These hydroxyapatite crystals are what makes bone so hard. It is easy to appreciate that bone (pictured in the illustration) is much more than just calcium.

      Other cells facilitate the nourishment of bone by participating in the exchange of nutrients between the bone and the blood. Still other bone cells help to shape, or remodel, the bone by digesting any extra unneeded pieces.

Why Strong Bones Depend on Proper Nourishment

     There are three ways that strong bones are dependent on proper nourishment: 1) To keep the bone cells healthy and active. 2) To supply the variety of important nutritional building blocks needed to form the organic matrix of bone. 3) To supply the complex of minerals that need to be placed on the organic net making up the finished, hardened component of bone known as hydroxyapatite crystals. With proper nourishment, a healthy lifestyle, and favorable genetics, healthy bones can last a lifetime!

Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate: Exceptional Bone Nourishment!

     Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate (MCHC) is derived from whole bone and is available as a nutritional supplement. It provides much greater nourishment than just calcium. MCHC contains protein and other ingredients that comprise the organic portion of bone, as well as calcium and other minerals in the normal physiological proportions found in raw bone.

     There is no doubt that calcium is essential for healthy bone formation; however, trace minerals and organic factors are also important. Because bone is a complex, highly mineralized tissue, a number of trace mineral deficiencies can impair bone formation and remodeling. Trace minerals also act as cofactors for several enzymes involved in the production of the organic portion of bone. Because MCHC is actual bone, it contains these vital components that are important for a healthy skeleton. It truly is comprehensive bone nourishment.

Good Mineral Absorption With MCHC

     As we age, our ability to absorb calcium and other minerals may decline. The calcium in MCHC is bioavailable and may be well absorbed.

Benefits of MCHC

A number of benefits related to MCHC are summarized below:

  1.   Along with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  2.   Bioavailable calcium source.
  3.   Contains collagen protein and the intact organic portion of bone.
  4.   Contains minerals other than calcium that are involved in bone formation and skeletal metabolism; phosphorus, fluoride, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and others.

     All MCHC products are not created equal. There are many synonyms for the word "hydroxyapatite" that are commonly, yet erroneously, equated with "microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate." They lack the full complement of minerals, organic factors, and the microcrystalline structure so important to the effectiveness of true MCHC. Modern laboratory analysis can now be conducted to confirm the presence of authentic MCHC in a nutritional supplement.

Types of Calcium Supplements: Their Advantages and Disadvantages


Microcrystaline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate
25% calcium
* Well absorbed calcium source.
* Comprehensive bone nourishment.
* Provides organic constituents and mineral components.
* None
Calcium Citrate
24% calcium
* Well absorbed.
* Reduces risk of kidneys stones.
* Absorbed by those with poor digestion.
* Not a complete bone food.
Calcium Aspartate
20% calcium
* Well absorbed. * Not a complete bone food.
Calcium Amino Acid Chelate
10-20% calcium
* Well absorbed. * Not a complete bone food.
* Often incorrectly made as a soy blend.
Calcium Ascorbate
10% calcium
* Well absorbed.
* Non-acidic vitamin C source.
* Not a complete bone food.
Calcium Lactate
15% calcium
* Well absorbed. * Not a complete bone food.
* May contain milk and/or yeast by-products.
* Made from fermentation of molasses, whey, starch, or sugar with calcium carbonate.
Calcium Carbonate
40% calcium
* Cheapest source of calcium. * Not a complete bone food.
* May not be well absorbed by those with poor digestion.
* Antacid effect, may interfere with digestion, cause gas.
Bone Meal
39% calcium
* Contains multiple minerals
 needed for bone.
* May contain high lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc.
* Organic constituents substantially destroyed by heat during processing.


* Alpha-Carotene, Cryptoxanthin, Zeaxanthin, Lutein, etc.
** Quercetin, etc.

1.     Crayhon R. Robert Crayhon's Nutrition Made Simple. New York: M. Evans & Co., 1994.
2.     Hendler SS. The Doctor's Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia. New York: Fireside, 1990.
3.     Linder MC. Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism. 2nd ed. Norwalk, CN: Appleton & Lange, 1991.
4.     Somer E. The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
5.     Ziegler EE. Filer I.J. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 7th ed. Wash DC: ILSI Press, 1996.



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     *The information in this website is not intended to replace a rheumatology textbook nor be a complete update of the rheumatology scientific literature.  It should not be misconstrued as personal medical advice.  Rather, it portrays Dr. Al Robert Franco's interests in the field of rheumatology, namely, the interrelationship between infections and rheumatic diseases and how this applies to the treatment of arthritis.