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Title: Nutraceutical  
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Subject: Dietary supplement, Food science, Nutrition, Steve Outtrim, Optical sorting
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Chia is grown commercially for its seeds rich in α-linolenic acid.

Nutraceutical, a portmanteau of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”, was coined in 1989 by Stephen L. DeFelice, founder and chairman of the Foundation of Innovation Medicine.[1] The term is applied to products that range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and herbal products, specific diets and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages.


  • Regulation 1
    • Canada 1.1
    • United States 1.2
    • International sources 1.3
  • Market 2
  • Classification of nutraceuticals 3
    • Dietary supplements 3.1
    • Functional foods 3.2
  • History 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Nutraceuticals are treated differently in different jurisdictions.


Under Canadian law, a nutraceutical can either be marketed as a food or as a drug; the terms "nutraceutical" and "functional food" have no legal distinction,[2] referring to "a product isolated or purified from foods that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food [and] is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease."

United States

The term "nutraceutical" has no meaning in US law.[3] Depending on its ingredients and the claims with which it is marketed, a product is regulated as a drug, dietary supplement, food ingredient, or food.[4][5]

International sources

In the global market, there are significant product quality issues.[6] Nutraceuticals from the international market may claim to use exotic ingredients, yet the lack of regulation may compromise the safety and effectiveness of products. Companies looking to create a wide profit margin may create unregulated products overseas with low-quality or ineffective ingredients.


A market research report produced in 2012 projected that the worldwide nutraceuticals market would reach US$250 billion by 2018,[7] defining that market as "Dietary Supplements (Vitamins, Minerals, Herbals, Non-Herbals, & Others), and Functional Foods & Beverages"[8]

Classification of nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Depending on the jurisdiction, products may claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body.[9]

Dietary supplements

A vitamin B supplment
Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B supplement shown above, are typically sold in pill form.

A 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.”[10]

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

Functional foods are designed to allow consumers to eat enriched foods close to their natural state, rather than by taking dietary supplements manufactured in liquid or capsule form. Functional foods have been either enriched or fortified, a process called nutrification. This practice restores the nutrient content in a food back to similar levels from before the food was processed. 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.”[11] 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.[12]


 A sculpture of the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates.Hippocrates.
Considered a father of Western medicine, Hippocrates advocated the healing effects of food.

A sculpture of the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates.Hippocrates.

The Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, and Sumerians are just a few civilizations that have used food as medicine.[13] Hippocrates, considered by some to be the father of Western medicine, said that people should “Let food be thy medicine.”

The modern nutraceutical market began to develop in Japan during the 1980s. In contrast to the natural herbs and spices used as folk medicine for centuries throughout Asia, the nutraceutical industry has grown alongside the expansion and exploration of modern technology.[14]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Staff, FDA. Last updated March 29, 2013. Food Labeling & Nutrition Overview.
  4. ^ Staff, FDA. Last Updated March 27, 2013. Q&A - Dietary Supplements
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Staff, PRNewswire-iReach Nov. 19, 2012. /Global Health Movement Drives Market for Nutraceuticals to $250 bn by 2018; Probiotics to Touch $39.6 bn and Heart Health Ingredients Near $15.2 bn
  8. ^ Staff, Global Industry Analysts, Inc. July 1, 2012 Market Research Report: Nutraceuticals
  9. ^ Nutraceuticals/Functional Foods and Health Claims on Foods
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

Further reading

  • Pathak, Y.V. (editor, 2010). Handbook of Nutraceuticals(vol. 1): Ingredients, Formulations, and Applications. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4200-8221-0
  • Shahidi, F. / Naczk, M. (eds. 2003). Phenolics in Food and Nutraceuticals (2nd edition). CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-58716-138-4
  • Shahidi, F. / Weerasinghe, D.K. (eds. 2004). Nutraceutical Beverages: Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health Effects. American Chemical Society. ISBN 978-0-8412-3823-7
Review articles on possible health benefits
  • Aggarwal, B.B. et al. “Molecular Targets of Nutraceuticals Derived from Dietary Spices: Potential Role in Suppression of Inflammation and Tumorigenesis”, Experimental Biology and Medicine (2009),234(8):825-849.
  • Gupta, S.C. et al. ” Regulation of survival, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis of tumor cells through modulation of inflammatory pathways by nutraceuticals“, Cancer Metastasis Reviews (2010),29(3):405-434.
  • Kannappan, R. et al. “Neuroprotection by Spice-Derived Nutraceuticals: You Are What You Eat!”, Molecular Neurobiology (2011),44(2):142-159.

External links

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, 2007
  • US FDA/CFSAN - Dietary Supplements
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