Nutraceutical derives from the combination of the words “nutrient” and “pharmaceutical.” Foodstuff that provides health benefits.

Objects of Nutraceuticals

Nutritional therapy is a healing system using dietary therapeutics or nutraceuticals as a complementary therapy. This therapy is based on the belief that foods can not only be sources of nutrients and energy but could also provide medicinal benefits. According to the nutraceutical and nutritional therapy theory, it achieves this goal by using the efficacy of such nutraceuticals in detoxifying the body, avoiding vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and restoring healthy digestion and dietary habit. Phytonutrients basically are plant nutrients with particular biological activities in supporting human health.

1. Avoid the side effect and increase the health beneficial effect.

2. May have naturally dietary supplements, so do not have unpleasant side effects and increase the health value, our diet and improve the medical condition of humans.

Category of Nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals or functional foods can be classified on the basis of their natural sources, pharmacological conditions, or as per the chemical constitution of the products.
On the basis of natural sources, it can be classified as the products obtained from plants, animals, minerals, or microbial sources.

Category of Nutraceutical
Substances with established nutritional functions, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids–Nutrients.

Herbs or botanical products as concentrates or extracts–Herbals.

Reagents derived from other sources (e.g., pyruvate, chondroitin sulfate, steroid hormone precursors) serving specific functions, such as sports nutrition, weight-loss supplements, fortified conventional foods, and meal replacements–Dietary supplements.

Health and disease

Nutraceuticals have received considerable interest in recent times because of their presumed safety and potential nutritional and pharmaceutical value. Nutraceuticals are substances that are not traditionally recognized nutrients but which have positive physiological effects on the human body. They are claimed to possess multiple therapeutic benefits. Foods and nutrients play a  vital role in the normal functioning of the body. They are helpful in maintaining the health of the individual and in reducing the risk of various diseases. Nutraceuticals are medicinal foods that play a  role in maintaining well being,  enhancing health, modulating immunity and thereby preventing as well as treating specific diseases.  Thus the field of nutraceutical can be envisioned as one of the missing blocks in the health benefit of an individual.  It has been scientifically proved and supported by various research articles that nutraceutical is efficacious to treat and prevent various disease conditions (Rama et al., 2006).

Classfication of Nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals have received considerable interest in recent times because of their presumed safety and potential nutritional and pharmaceutical value. Nutraceuticals are substances that are not traditionally recognized nutrients but which have positive physiological effects on the human body. They are claimed to possess multiple therapeutic benefits. Medicinal plants represent one of the important fields of traditional medicine all over the world. The interface between the nutritional environment and cellular/  genetic processes is termed as ‘nutrigenomics’.  It provides molecular enlightenment of phytochemicals benefitting human health by altering the expression or constitution of genes. This leads to alteration in the initiation, development, and progression of different diseases.  Thus,  nutrigenomics is very important in the role of nutraceuticals against ageing and different diseases. Nutraceuticals are non-specific biological therapies used to promote wellness, prevent malignant processes and control symptoms. they are being classified as (A) Nutrients (B) Herbals (C) Dietary Supplements. 

The 3 classifications of nutraceuticals and their role.
Nutraceuticals are non-specific biological therapies used to promote wellness, prevent malignant processes and control symptoms.

(A) Nutrients (B) Herbals (C) Dietary Supplements
Nutraceuticals are non-specific biological therapies used to promote wellness, prevent malignant processes and control symptoms. they are being classified as (A) Nutrients (B) Herbals (C) Dietary Supplements
Nutrients Read More
Herbals Read More
Dietary Supplements Read More


Nutrients are substances such as vitamins, minerals,  amino acids and fatty acids with established nutritional functions.  Most vegetables, whole grain cereals,  dairy products,  fruits and animal products such as meat,  poultry,  contain vitamins and are helpful in curing heart diseases, stroke, cataracts, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. Minerals found in the plant,  animal and dairy products are useful in osteoporosis,  anaemia and build strong bones,  teeth,  muscles,  improve nerve impulses and heart rhythm.  Flaxseed and salmon contain fatty acids omega-3 PUFAs, and are potent controllers of the inflammatory processes, maintenance of brain function and reduce cholesterol deposition  (Singh and  Sinha,  2012). The most commonly known nutrients are antioxidant,  water and fat-soluble vitamins.  Many potential benefits have been attributed to antioxidant use in the form of dietary intake or supplementation.  Antioxidants,  in general, may be useful in the prevention of cancer and cerebrovascular disease.  High dietary intake of vitamin  E  may prevent  Parkinson’s disease (Sapkale et al., 2012).



Herbals  are  as  old  as  human  civilization and  they  have  provided  a  complete  storehouse  of remedies  to  cure  acute  and  chronic  diseases.  The knowledge  of  herbals  has  accumulated  over thousands  of  years so  that  today  we  possess  many effective  means  of  ensuring  health  care  (Stauffer, 1999).  Nutraceuticals  holds  a  great  promise  to improve  health and  prevent  chronic  diseases  with the help of herbals. Some examples are willow bark (Salix  nigra),  having  active component  as  salicin, which  is  anti-inflammatory,  analgesic,  antipyretic, astringent  and  antiarthritic.  Parsley  (Petroselinum cripsum) contains flavnoids (apiol, psoralen) and is diuretic,  carminative  and  anti-pyretic.  Peppermint (Mentha  piperita)  contains  menthol  as  an  active component  and  cures  cold  and  flu.  Lavender (Lavandula  angustifolia)  contains  tannin which  is helpful  in  curing  depression,  hypertension, stress,cold,  cough  and  asthma.  Cranberries  (Vaccinium erythrocarpum)  contain  proanthocyanadin  and are found  to  be useful  in  cancer,  ulcers  and  urinary tract infections (Singh and Sinha, 2012)

Dietary Supplements


Dietary supplements are products administered through the mouth that contains a  dietary ingredient intended to add something to the foods you eat.  As  defined  by  the  Dietary  Supplement Health  and  Education  Act  (DSHEA,  1994),  “a product  that  contains  one  or  more  of  the  dietary ingredients such as  vitamin,  mineral, herb, or other botanical,  an  amino  acid  (protein)  also  includes any  possible  component  of  the  diet  as  well  as concentrates,  constituents,  extracts  or  metabolites of  these  compounds.”  (Sapkale  et  al.,  2012). Examples of dietary supplements are black cohosh for menopausal symptoms,  ginkgo Biloba for memory loss and glucosamine/chondroitin for arthritis. They also serve specific functions such as sports nutrition, weight-loss supplements, and meal replacements.  Supplement ingredients may contain vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids,  enzymes,  organ tissues,  gland extracts,  or other dietary substances.  They  are  available  in different dosage  forms,  including tablets, capsules, liquids,  powders,  extracts,  and  concentrates (Chintale et al., 2013)

History of Nutraceuticals

Since the ancient period, mankind made medicines from the extracts of natural materials and has been used for various purposes. In 1989 Dr. Stephen coined the term “Nutraceuticals” which is a combination of nutrition and pharmaceutical. Nutraceuticals have a come long way since a new trend in the care of companion animals emerged in the 1990s and similar trends in the human sector as well. With the passage of the dietary supplement health and education act of 1994, the definition of nutraceuticals has been expanded to include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other botanicals, amino acids, and dietary substances for human use as a supplement diet. The term nutraceutical is not well accepted on global, regulatory systems while the dietary supplements are considered to be more prominent.

Antioxidants In Disease Prevention

Antioxidants are known to defuse free radicals leading to a limited risk of  Oxidative  Stress (OS)  and associated disorders.  At cellular and molecular levels they inactivate  Reactive  Oxygen Species  (ROS)  and under specific low concentration inhibit or delay oxidative processes by interrupting the radical chain reaction of lipid peroxidation.  Carotenoids,  tocopherols,  ascorbates, lipoic acids, and polyphenols are strong natural antioxidants with free radical scavenging activity. Endogenous antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD),  catalase,  glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase,  minerals like  Se,  Mn,  Cu, Zn,  vitamins  A,  C  and  E,  carotenoids,  limonoids and polyphenols exert synergistic actions in scavenging free radicals  (Prakash and  Gupta, 2009).    During the last few years, researches have confirmed that many common diseases (CVS, diabetes,  cataracts,  high blood pressure,  infertility, respiratory infection and rheumatoid arthritis)  are associated with tissue deficiency and/or low dietary levels of compounds called antioxidants which make them an essential part of the nutraceutical market.  During oxidation free radicals are generated,  these free radicals at a  molecular level burn everything they touch. Antioxidants are quite large in number and diverse in nature which opposes the process of oxidation largely by neutralizing free radicals at relatively small concentrations and have the potential to inhibit the oxidants chain reactions and ultimately reconstitute the damaged membranes. Dietary antioxidants and some accessory molecules, such as zinc and certain vitamins are important in maintaining free radical scavenging systems,  biosynthetic capacity, membranes,  enzymes, and  DNA.  Antioxidants are found in vegetable oils e.g., Soybean oil, canola oil,  corn oil,  oat oil,  wheat germ oil,  palm oil, evening prime rose oil ( Singh et al., 2012). Antioxidants are very essential in the treatment of almost all diseases because most chronic diseases carry with them a  great pact of oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress plays a chief job in neurodegenerative diseases such as  Alzheimer's disease  (AD),  Parkinson's disease  (PD),  and Huntington’s disease  (HD). Oxidative stress is accelerated by the ageing process along with lack of dietary antioxidants. A huge number of studies have found an association between high dietary antioxidant intake and a  decreased risk of  AD which is very imperative because preventing disease is significantly easier than treating it. Researches suggest that preventing  AD  is actually not that complex. Treatment with antioxidants is a hopeful loom for slowing disease progression (Klatte et al., 2003). 

Role of Bacterial Nutraceuticals

Bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are used all over the world in a  large variety of industrial food fermentations (Chelule et al., 2010).  Some of the starter bacteria used in dairy fermentation are the yogurt bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus and the cheese and butter  (milk)  bacterium  Lactococcus lactis.  This property offers the possibility to fortify fermented dairy products with folate by natural means i.e. without the addition of food supplements.  Some lactic acid bacteria, such as  Lactococcus lactis, are able to produce and excrete riboflavin into the surrounding medium (Sharma and Kumari, 2012)    Probiotics are live microbial food ingredients,  which are beneficial to health.  They are friendly bacteria that promote healthy digestion and the absorption of some nutrients.  They act to crowd out pathogens, such as yeasts, other bacteria, and viruses that may otherwise cause disease and develop a  mutually advantageous symbiosis with the human gastrointestinal tract.  They have an antimicrobial effect through modifying the microflora, preventing adhesion of pathogens to the intestinal epithelium,  competing for nutrients necessary for pathogen survival,  producing an antitoxin effect and reversing some of the consequences of infection on the intestinal epithelium  (Singh and  Sinha,  2012).  An international expert group of the  International  Life Sciences  Institute  (ILSI)  has evaluated the categorized and published evidence of functionality of different probiotics in four areas of  (human) application,  namely,  (i)  metabolism,  (ii)  chronic intestinal inflammatory and functional disorders, (iii)  infections,  and  (iv)  allergy  (Cencic and Chingwaru, 2010). The various types of bacteria that are having the probiotics characteristics are -Lactobacilli,  Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus Reuters,  Lactobacillus case, Bifidobacterium,  Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum,  Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis,  Streptococcus, Lactococcus,  Lactococcus platinum,  Lactococcus reuteri,  Lactococcus agilis,  Enterococcus, Saccharomyces,  Bacillus,  Pediococcus  (  Singh et al.,  2012). There are large numbers of benefits of using probiotics as nutraceuticals.  Some of these benefits include:  enhancing bowel function, prevention of colon cancer,  lowering cholesterol, lowering of blood pressure,  improving immune function,  reducing infections,  reducing inflammation,  improving mineral absorption, preventing growth of harmful bacteria, fighting off diseases like candida and eczema, and many more. As these  “friendly bacteria”  are beneficial for humans similarly there are large numbers of soil bacteria that act as probiotics for plants. They are helpful  in  promoting  the  growth,  health, and  yield of crops (Pandey et al., 2011) 

Phyto chemicals As Potential Nutraceuticals

Phytochemicals (bioactive non-nutrient plant compounds) have raised interest in human nutrition because of their potential effects as antioxidants, antiestrogens, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anticarcinogenic (Laparra and Sanz, 2010). The majority of foods, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and herbs contain phytonutrients/ phytochemicals. These phytochemicals, either alone and/or in combination, have tremendous therapeutic potential in curing various ailments. Phytochemicals with nutraceutical properties present in food are of enormous significance due to their beneficial effects on human health since they offer protection against numerous diseases or disorders such as cancers, coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, microbial, viral and parasitic infections, psychotic diseases, spasmodic conditions, ulcers, osteoporosis and associated disorders (Prakash et al., 2012). They are naturally occurring biochemicals that give plants their color, flavor, smell, and texture, which may help prevent diseases. They are biologically active natural products such as glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, limonoids in citrus fruits, lignans in flaxseed, lycopene in tomatoes, and catechins in tea. They all have specific actions and can be used variously for e.g. as antioxidants and have a positive effect on health. Recently, much attention has been given to phytochemicals that possess cancer preventive properties (Shukla and Singh, 2007). Besides chemopreventive components in vegetables and fruits, some phytochemicals derived from herbs and spices also have potential anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic activities, among other beneficial health effects. A broad range of phytopharmaceuticals with a claimed hormonal activity, called "phytoestrogens", is recommended for the prevention of prostate/breast cancer (Inti and Faoro, 2006). Tea contains catechin derivative, amino acid theanine (shown reduced blood pressure in hypertensive rats). Black and green tea both show equal activity in total plasma antioxidant status after a single dose. But some study shows green tea to be more effective than black. Tea polyphenols have anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic and anti-platelet properties and effective in lowering the risk of developing Coronary Heart Diseases (Chaturvedi et al., 2011) Flavonoids have anticancerous properties by acting as antioxidants. They are found in citrus fruits, soyfoods which are a unique dietary source of isoflavones, green tea rich in epigallocatechin gallate and Curcuma longa rich in curcumin. The main soybean isoflavones, genistein, daidzein, biochanin inhibits prostate cancer cell growth. Carotenoids and lycopene are also important chemicals for human health. Because of the unsaturated nature of lycopene, it is considered to be a potent antioxidant and a reactive oxygen species (ROS) quencher. Recently, it was reported that fruits and vegetables containing lycopene exert a cancer-protective effect via a decrease in oxidative and other damage to DNA in humans. Among the carotenes, beta carotene is the most active as antioxidants. β- Carotene is the more common form and can be found in yellow, orange, and green leafy fruits and vegetables (Pandey et al., 2011). Flavonoids block the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) that raises blood pressure by blocking the "suicide" enzyme cyclooxygenase that breaks down prostaglandins, they prevent platelet stickiness and hence platelet aggregation. Flavonoids also protect the vascular system and strengthen the tiny capillaries that carry oxygen and essential nutrients to all cells. Flavonoids block the enzymes that produce estrogen, thus reducing the risk of estrogen-induced cancers (Rajasekaran et al., 2008). In recent years, there is growing evidence that plant-foods polyphenols, due to their biological properties, maybe unique nutraceuticals and supplementary treatments for various aspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus. potential efficacies of polyphenols, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans, and polymeric lignans, on metabolic disorders and complications induced by diabetes, have been discovered (Bahadoran et al., 2013).

Fatty Acids As Nutraceuticals

The use of omega-3 oils/long-chain ω3 PUFA constitutes one of the most promising developments in human nutrition and disease risk reduction in the past three decades. Long-chain ω3 PUFA is of great interest because of their effectiveness in prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and other inflammations, autoimmune disorders mental health and neural function as in depression and schizophrenia and cancers and are essential for maintenance and development of normal growth, especially for the brain and retina. (Shahidi, 2012). Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (which include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) and phytochemicals also play an important role as healthy dietary bioactive compounds. A balanced PUFA composition of food influences diverse aspects of immunity and metabolism. Moreover, interactions between PUFAs and components of the gut microbiota may also influence their biological roles (Cencic and Chingwaru, 2010). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to decrease the production of inflammatory eicosanoids, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species, possess immunomodulatory effects and attenuate inflammatory diseases (Sohaimy, 2012). Fatty acids of the omega-3 series (n-3 fatty acids) present in fish are well established dietary components affecting plasma lipids and the major cardiovascular disorders, such as arrhythmias (Rajasekaran et al., 2008). The health-promoting effect of fish oil is now known to be due to the omega-fatty acids, especially omega-3 and omega-6. The main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA). DHA, in particular, has been shown to be an important structural component of the brain and contributes to improved memory functions. Recently, increased incorporation of DHA into kinds of margarine and baby foods has been promoted to enhance brain memory development; a role in reducing the severity of Alzheimer's disease has been suggested for DHA (Sohaimy, 2012).

Nutraceutical Regulations

Food regulation is aimed at protecting the consumer’s health, increasing economic viability harmonizing well-being and engendering fair trade on foods within and between nations. For nutraceutical industries, two challenges are apparent; regulatory uncertainty and credibility of labeling claims. The food sector in India has been governed by multiple laws enacted at different points of time to complement and supplement each other (Singh and Sinha, 2012).

Future of Nutraceutical Industry

The expanding nutraceutical market indicates that end users are seeking minimally processed food with extra nutritional benefits and organoleptic value. This development, in turn, is propelling expansion in the nutraceutical markets globally. The emerging nutraceuticals industry seems destined to occupy the landscape in the new millennium. Its tremendous growth has implications for the food, pharmaceutical, healthcare, and agricultural industries Many scientists believe that enzymes represent another exciting frontier in nutraceuticals. "Enzymes have been underemployed. They are going to be a hot area in the future." Fermentation technology using microbes to create new food products also represents potential. Global trends to healthy products cannot be reversed. Companies taking the lead by investing strategically in science, product development, marketing, and consumer education will not go unrewarded (Pandey et al., 2010) Nutraceuticals supplied through the oral or transdermal delivery system would provide well-targeted health benefits with optimal bioavailability. With the evolution of “Smart Nutraceuticals”, a Futuristic “Physician’s Desk Reference” would contain information on individual genetic profiles to be matched with specific nutritional interventions as well. This would be a vast improvement over current nutritional recommendations which being too generalized are reported to benefit only 60% of the population (Ball, 2003).




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