What is Nutraceuticals?



Nutraceutical is the hybrid of ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’. Nutraceuticals, in broad, are food or part of food playing a significant role in modifying and maintaining normal physiological function that maintains healthy human beings. The principal reasons for the growth of the nutraceutical market worldwide are the current population and the health trends. The food products used as nutraceuticals can be categorized as dietary fibre, prebiotics, probiotics, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and other different types of herbal/ natural foods. These nutraceuticals help in combating some of the major health problems of the century such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, cholesterol etc. In whole, ‘nutraceutical’ has lead to the new era of medicine and health, in which the food industry has become a research oriented sector.
The concept of “nutraceutical” arose first in the survey from U.K., Germany and France, where diet was rated higher by the consumers, then exercise or hereditary factors to achieve a good health (Pandey et al. 2010). The term “nutraceutical” was coined from “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” by Stephen De Felice, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), Cranford, NJ in 1989 (Maddi et al. 2007; Brower 1998). According to De Felice, nutraceutical can be defined as, “a food (or a part of food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and or treatment of a disease”. On the other hand, Health Canada defines nutraceutical as “a product prepared from foods, but sold in the form of pills, or powder (potions) or in other medicinal forms, not usually associated with foods” (Wildman 2001; Bull 2000). Nutraceuticals are found in a mosaic of products emerging from (a) the food industry, (b) the herbal and dietary supplement market, (c) pharmaceutical industry, and (d) the newly merged pharmaceutical/agribusiness/nutrition conglomerates. It may range from isolated nutrients, herbal products, dietary supplements and diets to genetically engineered “designer” foods and processed products such as cereals, soups and beverages (Malik 2008; Dureja et al. 2003).

Nutraceuticals covers most of the therapeutics areas such as anti-arthritic, cold and cough, sleeping disorders, digestion and prevention of certain cancers, osteoporosis, blood pressure, cholesterol control, pain killers, depression and diabetes (Fig. 1) (Pandey et al. 2010; Sami Labs 2002).


Nutraceutical market in different countries


Research and development is at the peak in this emerging nutraceutical field. The greatest scientific need pertains to standardization of the nutraceutical compounds or products carefully develop and execute clinical studies to provide the basis for health claims to produce an impact on the consumers as well as on the nutraceutical companies.

Therapeutic areas covered by nutraceutical products


According to Rishi (2006) and Hathcock (2001), the nutraceutical industry’s three main segments include herbal/natural products, dietary supplements and functional foods. Among these, these most rapidly growing segments are the herbal/natural products and the dietary supplements (Nutrition Business Journal 2006). In 2007, the world nutraceutical market grew to reach $74.7 billion, compared to that of 2002, when it reached $46.7 billion (BCC Research). The leading countries having nutraceutical markets include USA, UK and Japan (Fig. 2) (BCC Research).