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Nutraceuticals VS Dietary Supplements

Nutraceuticals VS Dietary Supplements

6609536c954fdfbb0af8d005a738fadaccf441ef that protein blissful brown rice and raw cacao plant based vegan protein Nutraceuticals VS Dietary Supplements

Nutraceuticals and dietary supplements are among the beneficial products much sought after by consumers. In recent years, the focus has been on the positive aspects of nutrition. The new way of life, the change in eating habits, and the consumption of junk food lead to a number of diseases. In most countries, nutraceuticals are taken as part of dietary supplements. The frequency of nutraceuticals use is 50%–70% in developed countries’ populations and this number is increasing by age. Ladies use more nutraceuticals than men.[1] Many terms and definitions are used in different countries for nutraceuticals products, which can be confusing. Let’s see what is the meaning of the term nutraceutical and when is it prescribed.

What is a nutraceutical?

Nutraceutical is a new word, invented by Dr. Stephen DeFelice in 1989. It is two words put together: nutritional and pharmaceutical. According to him:” A nutraceutical is a food or part of food such as a dietary supplement that has a medical or health benefit including the prevention and treatment of disease”. [2]

As nutraceuticals blur the line between food and drugs, it is often difficult — by legal definition — to distinguish between nutrients, food additives, drugs, and nutraceuticals.[3]

“Nutraceuticals, which have also been called medical foods, designer foods, phytochemicals, functional foods, and nutritional supplements, include such everyday products as “bio” yogurts and fortified breakfast cereals, as well as vitamins, herbal remedies and even genetically modified foods and supplements. Many terms and definitions are used in different countries, which can result in confusion.’[4]

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a nutraceutical is any substance that is a food or a part of a food that has medical or health benefits. These products can be single nutrients like Vitamin C.

A nutraceutical product is a food or fortified food product that not only supplements the diet but also assists in treating or preventing disease (apart from anemia), so it provides medical benefits.

In Canada, a functional food has been defined as being “similar in appearance to conventional foods consumed as part of a usual diet” whereas a nutraceutical is “a product produced from foods but sold in pills, powders, (potions) and other medicinal forms not generally associated with food”.[5]

According to European Nutraceutical Association ENA, Nutraceuticals nutritional products that provide health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of diseases.[6]

Classifications of nutraceuticals:

The most common, recent classification of nutraceuticals is based on their novelty[7]:

that protein happy happy hemp and baobab plant based vegan protein Nutraceuticals VS Dietary Supplements1. Traditional Nutraceuticals

i. Chemical constituent

. Nutrients

. Herbals

. Phytochemicals

. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)

ii. Probiotics and prebiotics

iii. Nutraceutical enzymes

2. Non-traditional Nutraceuticals

. Fortified nutraceuticals

. Recombinant nutraceuticals

Forms of nutraceuticals products:


Dietary powdered supplements

Superfood seed extract

Powered supplements enclosed in capsule or pills

Extracted vitamins

Food extract in gel form

Fortified drink

Baked goods

The benefits of nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals In case of injury or surgery, are a quick and reliable way to flood your system with chemical elements. According to Dr. De Felice “in particular the preventive aspect and the treatment of a disease—is absent in the definition and scope of food supplements, which can be an aid for the body but are not required to have a proven clinical efficacy on a health condition. Based on these considerations, it hence appears of utmost importance to develop a new definition for nutraceuticals foreseeing their use “beyond the diet, before the drugs” as tools which can be able to prevent or delay the onset of some asymptomatic long term pathological conditions.”[8]

“Food supplements are often confused with functional food, which, as per their definition, are food‐derived products (or food with the addition of one or more active compounds) that are included as part of a normal diet with the aim of obtaining beneficial health effects.

These supplements and functional foods can compensate and/or can have a beneficial effect due to the addition of specific components if there is a lack of one micro‐ or macronutrient in the body. They may not have any proven pharmacological effect.

Food supplements contain nutrients derived from food products:

  • mineral and vitamins
  • protein supplement
  • functional food (whole foods, fortified & enriched)
  • herbal product

The starting point for identifying and testing a nutraceutical should be making a proper therapeutic hypothesis, such as a hypothesis that is coherent and supportable in the modulation of a target capable of producing a beneficial health therapeutic effect. The specific target must then be defined with all the available scientific data.

Nutraceuticals include:

  • Pro- and pre-biotic foodstuff
  • Food for special medical uses

They relate to foods for clinical evidence, therefore efficacy/safety factors for nutraceuticals are required. ”[9]

The requirements for the safety of dietary supplements are much less stringent than for a drug. No clinical trials are required. There is no requirement for demonstrating the efficacy of a dietary supplement for any health condition [10]

For example, soy protein is a food supplement. However, ipriflavone is the synthetic derivative of isoflavone daidzein found in soy protein and is sold as a nutraceutical.[11]

“A study in 2014 has shown that herbal nutraceuticals are effective on hard curative disorders related to oxidative stress, including allergy, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, eyes, immune, inflammatory and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as obesity.”[12]

When injured, the body needs more nutrition to rebuild damaged tissue. Alternatively, in case of an infection, the body needs additional food chemistry to help the immune system. If you have an operation, your injury needs to be repaired. Inflammation is part of chronic conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease. The inflammatory process can result in destructive, painful diseases.

Inflammation is caused in part by poor nutrition. Correcting your nutritional intake can relieve it. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone is weakened because of nutritional deficiency. Taking supplemental minerals and vitamins can help improve the strength of brittle bones.

What Is a Dietary Supplement?

it should be noted that the term “supplements” concerns not only vitamins and minerals, but also herbs and other plants, amino acids, enzymes, and others. Some are so-called specialty products like probiotics or fish oils.

As defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which became law in 1994, a dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to supplement the diet; contains one or more dietary ingredients (vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and other substances); is intended to be taken orally, and is labeled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement.

DSHEA defines a dietary supplement as “a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs or other botanicals; a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of the ingredients listed above”. Furthermore, it must also conform to the following criteria:

  • be intended for ingestion in pill, capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid form
  • not be represented for use as a conventional food or as a sole item of a meal/diet
  • be labeled as a “dietary supplement”[13]






5-Mazza G. Functional foods. Pennsylvania, US: Technomic Publishing Company Inc, 1998.


[7] Padmavathi D. A general review on “Nutraceuticals”: Its golden health impact over human community. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2018;3(2):214–217. [Google Scholar]

[8] DeFelice S.L. The nutraceutical revolution: Its impact on food industry R&D. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 1995;6:59–61.






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