Bioriginal Glossary

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) Omega 3—is the parent omega-3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid. ALA is the precursor to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and some hormones. ALA is found primarily in Flax Oil and is also found in Black Currant Oil.  The positive effects of ALA have been documented in areas including: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune system function, and cancer.

Antioxidant–a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation can produce free radicals, which cause a chain reaction in a person’s cells that can cause cellular damage or even death of the cells. Free radical damage has been linked to cancer and other age-related & degenerative diseases.

Arachidonic acid (AA) omega 6—is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Arachidonic acid is abundant in the diet, being found in eggs as well as animal and fish fats. Arachidonic acid has varied effects, including blood vessel constriction and pro-inflammatory effects.


 Blackcurrant—The small, round, juicy berries of this plant are familiar ingredients in herbal teas and jams.  However, the tiny seeds inside the berries, are a rich source of essential fats. Oil produced from black currant seed contains 15-17% GLA and 10-12% ALA.

Borage–Borage is nature’s richest source of the fatty acid GLA. Oil produced from Borage seed contains between 20 and 24% GLA.


 Cold-pressed—a method of gentle crushing and squeezing the seed to release the nutritional oil. Cold pressing is also known as “expeller pressing.” This gentle low temperature process will increase stability and preserve nutritional components of the oil. It does not use solvent extraction, where higher temperatures and solvents are used.

Concentrates (Fish oil)—Fish oil undergoes concentration process (removing saturates) of the long chain fatty acids.  This step allows for the selective concentration of EPA and DHA to levels greater than found naturally in fish oil.  The resulting EPA and DHA concentrate is typically the end product that is subsequently marketed and sold as “Fish Oil Concentrate”.  For example, fish oil 3020 has 30% EPA and 30% DHA.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with one of the double bonds in the cis position and the other in the trans configuration. CLA is converted through a patented process from linoleic acid that is found in high concentrations in sunflower and safflower oil. CLA has been shown to support fat mass reduction/weight loss.

Conditionally essential fatty acidsare fatty acids such as GLA, EPA and DHA that are manufactured in the body from the essential fatty acids LA and ALA. Due to the limitations that can occur in the metabolism of LA and ALA, GLA, EPA and DHA may become “conditionally essential.”


Delta 6-desaturase enzyme (D6D)this enzyme is critical for the metabolic conversion of LA into GLA and ALA into EPA and DHA. This enzyme is often considered the “rate limiting” step, meaning it is the slowest step in the reaction of the metabolic pathway. The

D6D enzyme functions at different rates in individuals based on certain environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, smoking and aging may reduce the activity of the D6D enzyme, resulting in EFA deficiency.

Dietary Fats—Dietary fat, also known as dietary lipid, includes Triglycerides, Phospholipids, Free Fatty Acids, and Sterols (cholesterol and phytosterols).

There are “good” and “bad” fats.  Dietary fat – especially saturated fat and transfatty acids – has developed a bad reputation in recent years as a factor contributing to cardiovascular disease.  However, a certain amount of dietary fat and Essential Fatty Acids are critical for optimal growth and functioning:

  • Dietary fat is the primary constituent of all our cell membranes.
  • Dietary fat is necessary for the synthesis of a number of important hormones including sex hormones (estrogen, androgen, progesterone), and adrenocortical hormones.
  • Dietary fat is necessary for the abosrption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Dietary fat is the chief storage form of energy in the body. Fats can be efficiently stored within the body, and provide more than two times the amount of energy (in the form of calories) than carbohydrates.
  • Dietary fat plays an important role in the maintenance of body temperature.  The layer of fat found under the skin acts to insulate the body from extremes in temperature, acting as an internal climate control.  In addition, fat surrounds, cushions, and protects the body’s vital organs from physical shock.

Dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)—is an omega-6 fatty acid formed from GLA, and is the precursor to the series 1 hormones.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. DHA is a very long chain fatty acid formed in the body through a series of steps, starting with ALA. DHA is essential for supporting brain, eye and heart health.


Eicosanoids—are a family of powerful, hormone-like compounds produced from EFAs.

Eicosanoids include prostaglandins, leukotrienes and thromboxanes, which are responsible for many of the beneficial effects of EFAs. Eicosanoids control numerous body processes (e.g., inflammation, blood clotting, blood pressure, immune response) and are formed in the body from essential fatty acids.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. EPA is a very long chain fatty acid formed from ALA through a series of steps. EPA is the immediate precursor to some hormones with anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning effects. EPA also has been shown to help with increased concentration and brain health, showing benefits in reducing ADHD symptoms, as well as reducing symptoms of depression.

Enteric Coated (EC)— A special coating applied to tablets or capsules that prevents release and absorption of contents until they reach the intestine.  This coating is stable in highly acidic conditions found in stomach, but breaks down rapidly in less acidic (or alkaline conditions) present in the small intestine.  Enteric-coated fish oil capsules prevent the capsules from being digested in the stomach, which has been known to cause a fishy reflux (fishy burp back).

Emulsion – a mixture of two or more liquids that normally won’t mix (such as oil and water). Examples of emulsions include Vinagrettes and Mayonnaise.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs)—are necessary for certain activities in the body, but that the human body cannot make, and so must be obtained in the diet. The activities EFAs are involved in include cell membrane structure and function, hormone formation, brain development and growth. There are two families of essential fatty acids (both polyunsaturated): the omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) and its by-products GLA and AA; and the omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) and its by-products EPA and DHA.

Ethyl Ester – derived by reacting free fatty acids with ethanol (alcohol). In this process, there is a reaction where the glycerol backbone of a Triglyceride is removed and replaced with ethanol. This form only occurs when the natural triglyceride form has been altered through evaporation. It is a technique often used in fish oil purification, or to create concentrated fish oil products.

Evening Primrose – Evening Primrose is commonly found in dry, open places, in fields and along roadsides. Chiefly a night bloomer, Evening Primrose is a plant that opens so fast you can literally watch it bloom before your eyes. Its oil is a natural source of GLA, containing 8-10%.

Extra Virgin Coconut – oil made from fresh coconut meat that has not been bleached or deodorized, resulting in an oil that retains a strong coconut flavor and aroma.


Fatty Acid—a carboxylic acid with a carbon chain.

Fishy Reflux or Burp Back—Fish oil softgels and omega 369 softgels cause “fishy” or sea-food tasting burps.  The triglyceride binding seen in fish oil does not allow the omega-3 acids to readily dissolve in water.  So fish oil flows on the surface of the stomach content leading to belching of fish flavours.

Flax Seed – The oil of the seed is a rich source of Essential Fatty Acids, containing 50-60% ALA.  Flax seed also contains other nutritional components including fiber and lignans. Flax seed oil is prepared commercially in liquid form or in soft gel capsules.  The seed is also available whole or milled for use in breads, or for sprinkling on salads and cereals.


Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) Omega 6—is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be formed from LA. The richest natural source of GLA is Borage (also known as Starflower) Oil.  GLA is also found in Black Currant and Evening Primrose Oils.  GLA is popularly used by women suffering from PMS.  However, GLA has been clinically indicated to have therapeutic benefits in many other health conditions including: rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy, cancer, and skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.


HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) – a systematic preventive approach to food and pharmaceutical safety that identifies physical, allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. 

Hemp seed oil – Hemp Seed Oil contains small amounts of fatty acids – both GLA and ALA.  Hemp is used in many cosmetics, especially skin care products, and is also useful as a dietary supplement.

High density lipoprotein (HDL)—is the blood lipoprotein that contains high levels of protein and low levels of cholesterol, and is the most dense of the lipoproteins. Synthesized primarily in the liver and small intestine, HDL picks up cholesterol and transfers it to other lipoproteins. HDL cholesterol is called the “good cholesterol” as high levels of HDL correlate with decreased coronary heart disease risk.


Lignans—are naturally-occurring substances found in plants and are classified as phytoestrogens. Flaxseed is the most abundant natural source of lignans, containing a concentration more than 100 times greater than other lignan-containing foods, such as grains, fruits and vegetables.

Linoleic acid (LA) Omega 6—is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid found abundantly in the average diet (in eggs, nuts, poultry, avocado, soy and vegetable oils). Ideally, the body converts some LA to GLA, but many people cannot adequately convert LA.

Lipids—is a scientific term for fats. 

Lipoproteins—are produced in the blood when lipids are bound to proteins as a transport mechanism for cholesterol and triglycerides. They are categorized by their density, such as HDL, LDL and VLDL.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL)—is the blood lipoprotein that contains low levels of protein and high levels of cholesterol. As LDL circulates in the blood it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain, and may result in hardening of the arteries. LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because increased levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.


MCTs (Medium-chain triglycerides) – MCTs are fatty acids that are more easily digested by the body than other fats as they do not need to be modified/broken down for absorption like long-chain fatty acids, and do not require bile salts for digestion. They are believed to increase burning of calories, which has potential use for burning fat and increasing energy. Coconut and Palm oil are two main sources of MCT oil.

Monounsaturated fatty acid—a healthy fat that is liquid at room temperate and solid or semisolid when refrigerated.  It’s a fatty acid that contains a carbon chain with one double bond.

Molecular Distillation – a distillation process primarily used to concentrate omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in fish oil, and remove contaminants.  Molecular distillation involves: converting the raw oil into an ethyl ester, separating the ethyl ester fatty acids from contaminants in a vacuum system to ensure temperatures are well below the oil’s normal boiling point, utilizing molecular weights to isolate the ethyl ester fatty acids – leaving unwanted contaminants behind, and recovering the distilled fatty acids into a final product with extremely low levels of contaminants.


Oleic acid (OA)—is an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid that is not considered essential as it can be manufactured from other fats in the body. Like other monounsaturated fats, it has been associated with lowered LDL cholesterol. Oleic acid is a common and healthy type of fat found primarily in olive oil, avocados and nuts.

Omega—is a scientific term for different “families” of fatty acids.

Omega-3—is the term for polyunsaturated fatty acids, including ALA and its derivatives EPA and DHA.

Omega-6—is the term for polyunsaturated fatty acids, including LA and its derivatives GLA, DGLA and AA.

Omega-9s—are monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid. Omega-9s are not essential like the 3s and 6s, although they are considered “good” fatty acids.

Organic – Plants grown and/or processed without the aid of non-naturally occurring chemicals including fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.


Polyunsaturated fatty acid—is a chemical term for fatty acids that contain a carbon chain with two or more double bonds. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and are considered healthy fats. The higher degree of unsaturation (the more double bonds), the healthier the fat is considered to be.

Prostaglandins—are hormone-like by-products with important metabolic roles. They are formed from essential fatty acids. There are three families, including series 1, series 2 and series 3. Series 1 and 2 are formed from the omega-6 fatty acids and series 3 are formed from the omega-3 fatty acids.


Saturated fats—are dense fats that are solid at room temperature and structurally contain no double bonds. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products, such as meat, lard, butter and other dairy products, as well as in processed foods. They are typically considered “bad fats” because they can contribute to cardiovascular disease.


Transfatty acids—are man-made unnatural fats created through hydrogenation and/or when fats are subjected to high temperatures or chemically altered. They are difficult for the body to process and interfere with the body’s ability to process other good fats. Small amounts of certain transfatty acids (such as CLA) occur naturally in milk and dairy products.

These naturally-occuring transfats function different in the body, and are not the same as transfats found in processed and convenience foods. However, the majority of

transfats are found in high amounts in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, shortenings and hard margarines.

Triglycerides—are composed of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. Most dietary fats are consumed in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are also the predominant storage form of fat in the body.


Unsaturated fats— Unsaturated fatty acids result when not all carbons in the chemical chain are saturated with hydrogen.  This means that the fat molecule contains one or more double bond.  The double bonds create “kinks” in the molecule, producing a fat that is fluid at room temperature.  Unsaturated fats are known as “good” fats because they help cellular function and promote heart health.


Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL)—is the blood lipoprotein that contains very low levels of protein and high levels of cholesterol. VLDL deposits cholesterol on the walls of arteries and increased levels are associated with hardening of the arteries and coronary heart disease.

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