Glyconutrients: Are they important for good health? by Mayo Clinic 15, 2006
By Mayo Clinic Staff

The term "glyconutrients" refers to eight specific sugars (saccharides), which proponents say help form important compounds called glycoproteins in your body. Glycoproteins — such as digestive enzymes and antibodies — are sugar molecules attached to protein molecules. These compounds help your cells communicate with each other, which is important for good health. Glyconutrients are now being sold as supplements over the Internet. Advocates of such products assert that most people have a deficiency of glycoproteins due to a poor diet. They maintain that glyconutritional supplements provide the essential sugars your body needs to make glycoproteins. Manufacturers of these supplements claim that glyconutrients may help prevent and treat dozens of diseases, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and cystic fibrosis. Although animal studies suggest possible health benefits from glyconutrient supplementation, there is very little research to support any of these health claims in humans. This makes it difficult to assess the potential risks and benefits of glyconutritional supplements. Also, because supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they haven't been rigorously tested or approved. As a result, the long-term safety of these products isn't known.

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