Nutraceuticals is a substance that may be considered a food or part of a food which provides health benefits, encompassing prevention and treatment of disease. The term Nutraceuticals was derived from ‘Nutrition’ (food component/source) and ‘Pharmaceuticals’ (a medical drug). They are a group of products that are more than food but less than pharmaceuticals.
Nutraceuticals are processed to satisfy particular dietary requirements and provide health benefits. Being versatile in nature, they are used in numerous industries such as pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, animal feed additives and personal healthcare.
According to the Journal of Agronomy, it is estimated that approximately 815 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. There are people suffering from the shortage of food. In order to overcome the crisis various products are gaining importance at the interface between food and medicines. Consumers are looking for alternative, beneficial products and are therefore currently using nutraceuticals.
There are many products that fall under the category of nutraceuticals.
- Dietary Supplements which include Nutrients, Phytochemicals, Herbals Probiotics and Dietary fiber.
- Functional foods constitute fortified food with certain vitamins and minerals.
- Medicinal foods that are designed for a specific dietary management of a specific disease condition.
Nutrients, herbals and dietary supplements are major constituents of nutraceuticals which make them instrumental in maintaining health, act against various disease conditions and thus promote the quality of life.
Recognition of the functional diversity of food and nutraceutical composition will provide this industry with the opportunity to provide consumers with many new products that can be developed into specialized markets. The food market is demanding, and consumers are constantly looking for new products and products that have a positive impact on their health.
Food and pharmaceutical companies are committed to the study and development of functional foods and other nutraceuticals. They also demonstrate that a scientific base for the efficacy of these products combined with good marketing might lead to better acceptance within the urban population.
….By Deethi Devatha