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'Protagon' was so named because it was the first definitely identified principle substance of the brain. A protagonist is typically the person who takes the leading role in a drama, enterprise or in this case, the constituent of brain.

X Fact
September 1, 2020
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Choline, "The Mother-Substance-of-All"

In 1865, Oscar Liebreich (1839-1908), while researching the human brain as a medical student in Königsberg, Germany identified a substance that he described as "the mother-substance-of-all" and which he called "protagon". The word 'protagon' is the root word of protagonist (from Greek) meaning the 'one that takes the main part'. The substance that Liebreich found in the brain was the first time that the 'substance' of brain was described. It was this fatty material, the components of which he subsequently determined were made out of fatty acids and containing a newly discovered molecule that he called "neurine". It soon became evident that 'neurine' was identical to the molecule that Adolf Strecker had purified from the bile of an ox and called 'choline' (chol=bile in Greek). Neurine and choline were the same molecules and yes, perhaps the 'mother-substance-of all' is a fitting description.

Words You May Not Know
Fatty Acid
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Fatty Acid

Fatty acid, important component of lipids (fat-soluble components of living cells) in plants, animals, and microorganisms. Generally, a fatty acid consists of a straight chain of an even number of carbon atoms, with hydrogen atoms along the length of the chain and at one end of the chain and a carboxyl group (―COOH) at the other end. It is that carboxyl group that makes it an acid (carboxylic acid). If the carbon-to-carbon bonds are all single, the acid is saturated; if any of the bonds is double or triple, the acid is unsaturated and is more reactive.

Who Wrote This
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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