Nutraceuticals' Latest Picture and Their Role in Health
Nuffoods Spectrum|December 2016

A nutraceutical is any food or dietary supplement ingredient that provides a health benefit. It can be tea with ginseng, or it may be a soy product with an added level of isoflavones.

Dr. Sanjay Agrawal

At present, high quality, very good standardized grade herbal extracts qualify as nutraceuticals, but the term nutraceuticals as it stands today has become too wide to be useful. Nutraceuticals provide all the essential substances that should be present in a healthy diet for the human body. They have received considerable interest because of their presumed safety and potential nutritional and therapeutic effects, and they are available in the form of isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered foods, herbal products and processed foods such as cereals, soups and beverages.

Nutritional deficiencies are of major concern to lawmakers across the developing nations. Rapidly growing population, poverty and starvation, and very low level awareness on nutrition are major hindrances for eliminating nutritional deficiencies. Iron deficiency alone affects two billion people across the globe, and deficiencies in zinc, iodine, vitamin A, and calcium are other major health issues. Multiple strategies are available to overcome this situation, including food diversification, supplementation, fortification, and production of crops with enhanced levels of these micronutrients.

The concept of nutraceuticals commenced from the survey in United Kingdom, Germany and France, which concluded that diet is rated more highly by consumers than exercise or hereditary factors for achieving good health and fitness. In recent years, there is a growing interest in nutraceuticals that provide health benefits and are alternatives to medicines or drugs. Nutraceuticals often possess unique chemical actions that are unavailable in pharmaceuticals.

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