Ms Sohinee Seal, Senior Dietician, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata
Nutraceutical foodstuff (as a fortified food or a dietary supplement) that is held to provide health or medical benefits in addition to its basic nutritional value—called also functional food. Functional foods are defined as products that resemble traditional foods but possess demonstrated physiological benefits.
However, nutraceuticals are commodities derived from foods, but are used in the medicinal form of pills, capsules or liquids and again render demonstrated physiological benefits. There are many functional foods and nutraceuticals that are becoming increasingly available in the marketplace. The commodities that have so far reached the market are mainly those belonging to the antioxidants and also omega-3 oils, as well as probiotics, among others.
The antioxidant category is primarily composed of phenolic/polyphenolic compounds, but carotenoids as well as phytates, certain vitamins, uric acid and minerals are also included. Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B supplement shown above, are typically sold in pill form. A dietary supplement is a product that contains nutrients derived from food products that are concentrated in liquid or capsule form.
In the US, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 defined the term: “A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. The “dietary ingredients” in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates, and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders.
Dietary supplements do not have to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before marketing, but companies must register their manufacturing facilities with the FDA.
With a few well-defined exceptions, dietary supplements may only be marketed to support the structure or function of the body, and may not claim to treat a disease or condition, and must include a label that says: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Functional foods, are fortified or enriched during processing and then marketed as providing some benefit to consumers. Sometimes, additional complementary nutrients are added, such as vitamin D to milk. Health Canada defines functional foods as “ordinary food that has components or ingredients added to give it a specific medical or physiological benefit, other than a purely nutritional effect.”
In Japan, all functional foods must meet three established requirements: foods should be (1) present in their naturally occurring form, rather than a capsule, tablet, or powder; (2) consumed in the diet as often as daily; and (3) should regulate a biological process in hopes of preventing or controlling disease.
The term “nutraceutical” was coined from “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, MD, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), Cranford, NJ]. DeFelice proceeded to define nutraceutical as, “a food (or part of a food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/ or treatment of a disease”.
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