Concept of Nutraceuticals

Himanshu Gupta, Dinesh Bhandari, Aarti Sharma

Abstract: Nutraceuticals are the foodstuffs which provide health benefits in addition to their basic nutritional value. These may include fortified foods as well as dietary supplements that can be sold in capsules, tablets or powders. In recent year, consumers have begun to look at food not only for basic nutrition, but also for health benefits. Nutraceuticals are effective in combating or altogether curing a long list of ailments. Here we present an overview to understand nutraceuticals and their scope.

The term "nutraceuticals" is a combination of the words nutrition and pharmaceutical, that is coined by Stephen DeFelice, a doctor and the founder of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM) in 1989. This is the foundation for innovation in medicine. Nutraceutical implies that the extract or food which demonstrate to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against a chronic disease. Certain examples of nutraceuticals are resveratrol from red grape products as an antioxidant, soluble dietary fiber products, such as psyllium seed husk for reducing hypercholesterolemia, broccoli (sulforaphane) as a cancer preventive, and soy or clover (isoflavonoids) to improve arterial health. A conventional food is that which is consumed as part of a usual diet containing bioactive compound which reduce the risk of chronic disease. Examples of functional foods/ nutraceuticals have been mentioned in table 1. It includes fish, whole wheat bread, tomato, olive oil, salad, garlic, onion, fruit, and red wine. Other nutraceutical examples are flavonoids antioxidants, alpha-linolenic acid from flax seeds, beta-carotene from marigold petals, anthocyanins from berries, etc. Nutraceuticals were used for the prevention or treatment of chronic disorders like cardio-vascular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis etc. Some of nutraceuitcal explored were listed and explained below.

Resveratrol is a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Resveratrol has also been produced by chemical synthesis, and is sold as a nutritional supplement derived primarily from Japanese knotweed. Resveratrol extends the life span of several short-living species of animals. In human trial, extremely high doses (35g) of resveratrol in a special proprietary formulation have been necessary to significantly lower blood sugar. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine. Reserveratrol falls in the category of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compound which retard or prevent the oxidation by inhibiting reactive oxygen species such as superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, hydroxyl radicals and water. In 1997 Jang reported that topical resveratrol applications prevented the skin cancer development in mice treated with a carcinogen. There have since been dozens of studies of the anti-cancer activity of resveratrol in animal models. No results of human clinical trials for cancer have been reported. However, clinical trials to investigate the effects on colon cancer and melanoma (skin cancer) are currently recruiting patients. 


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