There are a variety of organic compounds though cannot be defined as true vitamins, which are related to the function of vitamins. Generally speaking, they can be sufficiently synthesized by humans and are not required in the daily diet. Because of similarities in physiological function or distribution in diet, these substances usually are classified as vitamin-like substances. Besides specific amino acids such as methionine and taurine in feathered animals, other examples of these vitamin-like substances include choline, carnitine, inositol and Coenzyme Q.
As a key component of sphingomyelin and lecithin, choline, a water-soluble amine, plays an important role in carcinogenesis, lipid transport and methyl group metabolism. Normally, choline can be synthesized in sufficient amounts. However, choline is regularly added to diets, commercially available as the bitartrate or trimethyl hydroxyethyl ammonium chloride. This can lessen the need for activated methyl groups supplied from methionine, and thus promotes positive growth response in young growing animals. Choline deficiency can lead to fatty liver.
Inositol is synthesized after cyclization glucose-6-phosphate and is after cyclization and is of similar structure to glucose. As a component of phospholipids in membranes, it plays a key role in the cell replication. Inositol also plays an important role in phospholipid assembly, clearance of lipid and cellular signal transduction. Inositol is relatively abundant in cereal grains. Similar to choline, deficiency of inositol can lead to fatty liver.
Taurine is an amino acid taking part in in a variety of physiological activities, including neuromodulation, osmotic regulation and the stabilization of cell membranes. It is essential for the metabolism of bile acids salts. From the oxidation of cysteine, most animals can synthesize sufficient amounts of taurine endogenously. However, some animals, especially domesticated and wild felids and human infants fail to synthesize enough amounts of taurine. Currently, taurine is regularly added to all infant formulas to promote infant development.
Carnitine plays an important role in accepting activated fatty acids at the outer mitochondrial membrane and making them ready for β-oxidation. While adults can synthesize sufficient carnitine, it is difficult for infants to synthesize enough amounts of carnitine. Human milk delivers sufficient carnitine, infant formula may not offer enough carnitine. Carnitine is relatively abundant in meats and dairy products, while cereal grains is not only low in carnitine but also low in lysine and methionine- the precursors of carnitine. The primary signs of carnitine deficiency are as hypoglycemia, cardiomyopathy and muscle weakness.
Bioflavonoids are the brightly colored phenolic compounds relatively abundant in tea, beer, wine, cocoa, and especially in citrus fruits. They can affect capillary permeability and fragility.
As a fat-soluble vitamin relating to B vitamins, lipoic acid acts as a coenzyme to transfer acyl groups.
Coenzyme Q (Ubiquinone)
Coenzyme Q is defined as a group of lipid-like compounds with structure similar to vitamin E. Coenzyme Q plays a key role in mitochondrial electron transport. Coenzyme Q10, the member native to human mitochondria, is of greatest interest. Coenzyme Q is relatively abundant in the food supply.
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