Biomarker Glossary

bī′ō-mär′kər: a distinctive biological or biologically derived indicator (such as a molecule or other measurable substance) of a process, event, or condition.
Your body is a treasure trove of these indicators. Measure and improve your biomarkers and enhance your wellbeing.

A B C D E F G H L M O P S T V Z

Vitamin B12, otherwise named cobalamin, is one of the water-soluble vitamins. In blood, a part of cobalamin binds to the protein transcobalamin to be transported to the cells of the body. This leads to what we call “Active vitamin B12”, named Holotranscobalamin, that can be measured in blood.

Arginine is one of the twenty amino acids that make up our proteins. It is often referred to as a “semi-essential” amino acid because we will usually synthesize enough quantities of it to meet our bodily needs.

Asparagine, abbreviated Asn, is a non-essential and polar amino acid. It is one of the twenty standard amino acids required for a healthy functioning in humans. Asparagine is considered as “non-essential” since it can be synthesized by the body from another compound, namely from aspartic acid.

The official BCAA definition includes any type of amino acid that has a chain that branches off to one side, also called “Branched-Chain Amino Acids”. This includes three out of eight essential amino acids in adults: leucine, isoleucine and valine. An amino acid considered as “essential” means that our bodies are unable to produce it on their own and that it needs to be obtained in sufficient quantities through the diet.

Carnitine, also known as levocarnitine, is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative. Carnitine can be produced by the body with the help of the essential amino acids methionine and lysine. The majority of carnitine is stored in the skeletal muscle but also in the liver and the heart as well.

Citrulline is a naturally occurring amino acid, which means that it does not have to be obtained through our diet as it is synthesized from other amino acids in the body. Its main precursor is the amino acid glutamine. Citrulline has many important roles in the body but unlike some amino acids, it is not used to build proteins.

Copper is a metal element and an essential dietary trace mineral required for several important metabolic reactions in our bodies. Copper is a trace mineral, meaning that our bodies only need little amounts of it.  However, it plays a key role in our overall health metabolism, especially with our bones, tissues, nervous system, digestive system and immune system.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that plays an essential role in the metabolism of macronutrients. Cortisol also helps the human body manage stress, notably exercise-induced stress. Normally, cortisol levels rise during the early morning hours and are highest about 7 AM. They drop very low in the evening and during the early phase of sleep.

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that is an essential component of the membranes of all of our cells. DHA is a major structural fat found in the brain (it accounts for more than 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain) and retina (eye). The body can only make a limited amount of DHA from other fatty acids, so we need to consume it directly from food or from dietary supplements.

EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid is one of the three main omega-3 fatty acids. The body can only convert a limited amount of EPA from the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), so it is important to get enough EPA from food or from dietary supplements.

Ferritin is a protein that stores iron and that releases it in a controlled manner. Our ferritin levels reflect the amount of iron the body has stored for future use.

Glutamic acid, abbreviated Glu, is a non-essential amino acid, which doesn’t mean the body doesn’t need it, but it means the body can synthesize it from other amino acids.

Glutamine is the most active amino acid in the body as it is involved in more processes than any other amino acid.

Histidine is a semi-essentiel amino acid since adults can make it from other chemicals in the body. For children, histidine is an essential amino acid, meaning it cannot be synthesized by the body and must be provided in sufficient quantity by the diet.

Lauric acid is medium-chain saturated fatty acid. The saturated fats family contains various fatty acids that differ in their structure, metabolism and functions.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid part of the polyunsaturated fatty acids family. It is the only essential omega-6 fatty acid, meaning that our body cannot produce it naturally so it must be obtained through our diet. Although linoleic acid is essential and consuming foods containing omega-6 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, a high consumption of linoleic acid may also contribute to the development of low-grade inflammation in the body.

Lysine, also called L–lysine is a building block for proteins. It is an essential, positively charged amino acid. Our bodies cannot synthesize it so we must obtain it through dietary sources.

Magnesium is an element and mineral found throughout nature and is one of our body’s electrolytes. It is implicated in more than three hundred metabolic reactions in the human organism.

Oleic acid is an omega-9 part of the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) family. Although oleic acid isn’t essential, meaning the body can synthesize it, it is the most common monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet and is involved in various important bodily processes. For example, it is needed for the structure of cell membranes, including the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers, and plays a role in maintaining membrane fluidity.

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids important for good health. Among the three main omega-3s alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), only ALA is considered as an essential fatty acid since our bodies cannot synthetize it. It must therefore be provided through diet. Note that although the body is able to synthesize EPA and DHA from this essential fatty acid ALA, it is only done in a small amount. It is therefore recommended to get enough EPA and DHA from the diet.

Ornithine is a non-essential and non-protein amino acid. It is considered as non-essential since it can be synthesized by the body from the amino acid arginine. Ornithine participates in detoxifying cells through its important role in the urea cycle (a bodily process that allows the elimination of toxic ammonia).

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, meaning our body is unable to produce it on its own so we need to get it from our diet.

Proline is a nonessential amino acid that can be manufactured by the body from another amino acid called glutamic acid. Proline is the precursor to hydroxyproline, which is a major amino acid found in the connective tissue of the body – collagen, which can be found in the skin, bones, and joints. As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is essential in maintaining the proper structure and strength of connective tissue, such as bones, skin, cartilage and blood vessels.

Selenium is a trace mineral, meaning that we only need a small amount of it, but that is essential for humans; it is therefore important to consume foods containing selenium regularly..

Taurine is a semi-essential amino acid involved in nearly every aspect of our health. Taurine is made from cysteine and methionine in the liver. It is considered to be the most abundant amino acid in the heart, retina, skeletal muscle, brain and immune cells. It plays many important roles in the body.

Threonine is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in regulating protein balance in the body. Because it is considered “essential”, our bodies are unable to synthesize it, it must therefore be provided by the diet by consuming products rich in threonine. Threonine plays many vital roles in our bodies including the structure of bones, teeth (such as enamel), ligaments, tendons and skin. It is involved in several body systems such as connective tissue such as collagen and elastin.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that plays many key roles in the body. It acts as a natural mood regulator since it has the ability to help the body produce and balance certain hormones. Tryptophan is for example needed for the formation of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and that has antioxidant properties. In the body, tryptophan gets partially converted to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, and mood. It therefore plays an important neurological and physiological role.

Tyrosine, abbreviated Tyr, is a non-essential amino acid that the body can produce from the essential amino acid phenylalanine.

Valine is an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot produce it and must therefore be provided by the diet. Valine is also one of the three branched chain amino acids (BCAA) that are unique in that they are not metabolized by the liver. Valine is needed for the synthesis of proteins and is also used as energy fuel.

Vitamin A exists in two different forms: preformed vitamin A, exclusively occurring in animal products, and provitamin A carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene) found in vegetal products. In the body, both forms of vitamin A are converted to retinal and retinoic acid, the active forms of vitamin A.

Vitamin B1, otherwise called thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin, as are all the vitamins of the B complex family. Vitamin B1 has many important roles in the body.
Vitamin B1 is a constituent of coenzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and certain amino acids, like most of the B vitamins. This vitamin has an important participation in energy, carbohydrate and alcohol metabolism.

Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, is the combination of pantoic acid and β-alanine. Its name is derived from the Greek pantos, meaning “from everywhere” since small quantities of pantothenic acid can be found in nearly every food.

Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine” vitamin as our bodies can produce it from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Between 50-90% of our vitamin D is absorbed through the skin via sunlight [J Mak, An Evidence-Based Review of Efficacy and Safety of Dietary, Natural Supplements and Sunlight in Vitamin D Deficiency, IntechOpen, 2019]. Even though vitamin D can also be found in certain foods, our main source comes from the production in the skin after sunlight exposure.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha-tocopherol is the only one used by the human body. It is considered the most active natural form because it is the preferred form of vitamin E transported and used by the liver.

Zinc is a type of metal and an essential trace element. It’s “essential” because we must obtain it from our diet, since our body can’t produce it on its own. Apart from iron, it is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in the human body. It is actually present within all bodily tissues and needed for healthy cell division.

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