What Are Nutraceuticals?

Physician Stephen DeFelice, founder and president of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, first used the word "nutraceutical" in 1989 to characterize products derived from food sources that provide additional health benefits beyond the basic nutritional value of foods. To be classified as a nutraceutical, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Come from a source of sustenance
  • Provide health benefits beyond those of general fundamental nutrition.

Today, the medical and health sector has adopted the term and used it as the basis for a number of treatments and products. The nutraceutical market is currently worth billions of dollars in the United States, Europe and Japan. So what makes this commodity so intriguing to everyone?

Nutraceutical products can help with symptom management, chronic disease risk reduction, disease treatment, and overall health promotion. Numerous nutraceuticals, including chondroitin sulfate, fish oils, glucosamine sulfate, and the herb boswellia, are well known for treating joint and spinal issues.

A nutraceutical product may provide a solitary nutrient or a combination of several ingredients. They might also be derived from plants or be created through genetic engineering as designer foods. Nutraceuticals can also be found in processed meals that have additional nutrients.

The Function of Nutraceuticals

These can be useful if a consumer's diet does not provide all the vitamins and nutrients their body needs. Since these circumstances can increase the number of nutrients our body needs, consumers who are treating an injury or illness or subjecting their body to additional physical exertion.

The nutrients in our food are broken down by a process called metabolism to create energy. Energy is provided by nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats, while our systems need vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and water to maintain a healthy metabolism. Having enough nutrients allows our body's organs and systems to function properly and can speed full recovery from injuries or wounds. If we don't get enough nutrients, our systems may take longer to recover from injuries or may even get worse.

One of the best ways to make sure we maintain good health is to eat a healthy diet, which should include all the nutrients our bodies need to keep functioning properly. Consider taking these supplements if your diet is not providing your body with enough nutrients.

With nearly half of Americans taking at least one prescription drug, and many fed up with relying on pharmaceuticals or yearning to adopt a more holistic approach to health, nutraceuticals fill this need.