What is royal jelly and what is it used for as a health supplement?
Honey bees make royal jelly in the beehive as food for the queen bee. It is obviously good for the Queen as she lives much longer when compared to the common worker bee or drone, and has far greater reproductive powers.
Man has learned that there are benefits to be had from bee products and from royal jelly, when used as a health supplement. Since this substance has been utilized for many centuries, long before the advent of any medical testing facilities, its effectiveness has been established initially as a result of experimentation. But now in modern times we have the facilities to take a much closer look at the nutritional properties of organic substances, and along with carefully controlled testing, can ascertain the true benefits and those which are merely unsubstantiated folklore.
But what is royal jelly?
It is a nutritious, yellow, liquid substance, with a creamy texture. It is quite acidic on the tongue and very pleasant to taste, unless of course it has been combined with honey. The substance itself is actually a secretion from special glands located in the heads of worker bees. It is fed initially to bee larvae, which eventually develops into queens, whereupon the queen continues on her rather exclusive diet for the remainder of her days.
When asking ‘what is royal jelly?‘ most people are looking for information on its nutritional properties and how those specific nutrients might be beneficial to our health. A basic chemical assessment of the substance determines that royal jelly is made up of 60-70% water, 12-15% protein, 10-15% percent sugars, and 3-7%% percent fats. The remainder is made up from amino acids and vitamins.
So it’s worth noting that as with most substances existing in a liquid state, the majority of its chemical composition is H2O, or water. Now people start to get a little confused about royal jelly and water and whether or not it’s better for you if you leave the water in it. (Learn about freeze-dried royal jelly where the water is removed, here).
Lets be clear, there’s nothing mystical or magical about water, it’s two hydrogen elements combined with one oxygen. The issues becomes more focused on the processes used to remove the water, as is usually the case when royal jelly is converted into a vitamin supplement. Read the above article to understand the importance of the process of freeze drying and how it leads to a more stable, fresh and potent substance.
So we’ve answered the question of what is royal jelly, it is 70% water, but remove the water and you have a concentration of proteins, sugars and fats, with some amino acids and vitamins. Those of you thinking “oh, I’m going to gain weight if I take this”, just hang on a second. You’re generally only going to take around 1000mg of royal jelly per day, which isn’t going to make you fat, it only contains 4 or 5 calories. But what you are going to be ingesting are the vitamins, and more importantly the amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of life and some are considered ‘essential’ to life and most be ingested through what we eat. It is believed by many that the true power of royal jelly, if such a thing exists, is in its amino acid makeup.
So what is it good for, what are the health benefits?
We have a lot of information around this website on the benefits of royal jelly. Start by following that link and we’ll show you some of what has been reported as being beneficial. Commonly, the first thing people think of when considering what is it good for, is energy. Then, research leads us into observations about its anti-aging possibilities and we associate that with ‘longevity’.
Many assume that because of its role in the beehive and its affect on the reproductive capacity of the queen bee that it is good for fertility. Let’s look at royal jelly and fertility as a separate topic here.
Beyond the above, the range of benefits are directly assumed due to the listed amino acids and nutrients. Each listed component has its own research and when found in royal jelly it is assumed that those specific benefits will be present. Lets look at these specifically -
Vitamin B I (Thiamine) 1.5 to 7.4 mcg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 5.3 to 10.0 mcg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 2.2 to 10.2 mcg
Niacin (nicotinic acid) 91.0 to 149.0 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 65.0 to 200.0 mcg
Biotin 0.9 to 3.7 mcg
Inositol 78.0 to 150.0 mcg
Folic Acid 0.16 to 0.50mcg
Vitamin C Trace amount
It contains traces of all 8 essential amino acids.
Regional Variations in Royal Jelly
It’s worthy of note that regional variations and the processes used in collecting royal jelly will impact these numbers, so they’ll vary slightly from source to source and batch to batch.
Hopefully that goes some way to answering the question of what is royal jelly and you have a better understanding of its potential benefits.
But it doesn’t end there. You can quite easily neutralize any benefits during the collection and subsequent processing of the substance as it’s removed from the hive. So be sure to buy product from reputable sources.
For example, if I do a Google search for ‘royal jelly’, and run through the top 20 or so companies who appear in the results, I know for a fact that over 50% of them use raw ingredients which are pasteurized. That sounds odd when you consider the wild claims people make about the ‘freshness’ and integrity of their products and how one might ‘feel the benefits’.
Obviously this is hype, given the knowledge of their approach to processing/packaging the substance. So tread carefully, and here’s a little more information on the harm caused by pasteurization.