Nutraceuticals: A Review


Seema Thakur*, Neha Srivastava

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, PCTE Group of Institutes Ludhiana,

Near Baddowal Cantt., Ludhiana, 142021

*Corresponding Author E-mail:,



Nutraceuticals  are bio  active  substances  and  the constituents  are  either  of  known  therapeutic activity or are chemically defined substance  generally  accepted  to  contribute  substantially  to the therapeutic activity of the drug. Nutraceuticals have received considerable interest because of their presumed safety and potential nutritional and therapeutic effects. The concept of nutraceutical was stared from the survey in U.K., Germany and France which concluded that diet is rated more highly by consumers than exercise or hereditary factors for achieving good health. Nutraceutical is a term coined to describe substances which are not traditionally recognized nutrients but which have positive physiological effects on the human body. They do not easily fall into the legal category of food and drug and often inhabit a grey area between the two. Risk of toxicity or adverse effect of drugs led us to consider safer nutraceutical and functional food based approaches for the health management


KEYWORDS: Nutraceuticals, dietary suppliments, functionl food, vitamins and probiotics etc.




The term “Nutraceutical” was coined from “Nutrition” and “Pharmaceutical” in 1989 1. A food or part of food or nutrient, that provides health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of a disease or as commonly defined by the dietary supplement industry, “any nontoxic food component that has scientifically proven health benefits, including disease treatment and prevention 1.


Traditional vs. Nontraditional:

Nutraceuticals on the market today consist of both traditional foods and nontraditional foods. Traditional nutraceuticals are simply natural, whole foods with new information about their potential health qualities.


There has been no change to the actual foods, other than the way the consumer perceives them. Many — if not most — fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, dairy and meat products contain several natural components that deliver benefits beyond basic nutrition, such as lycopene in tomatoes, omega-3 fatty acids in salmon or saponins in soy 2. Nontraditional nutraceuticals are foods resulting from agricultural breeding or added nutrients and/or ingredients. Agricultural scientists are able to boost the nutritional content of certain crops through the same breeding techniques that are used to bring out other beneficial traits in plants and animals — everything from beta-carotene-enriched rice to vitamin-enhanced broccoli and soybeans.


Several terms need to be defined in order to gain an understanding of nutraceuticals:3


A feed constituent in a form and at a level that will help support the life of an animal. The chief classes of feed nutrients are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins



Edible materials which are consumed by animals and contribute energy and/or nutrients to the animal’s diet.


Food: As defined by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (1968), an article that provides taste, aroma or nutritive value.



A substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals. A substance other than food intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals.


Dietary Supplement:

As defined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA, 1994), “a product that contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: vitamin, mineral, herb, or other botanical, and amino acid (protein). It  includes any possible component of the diet as well as concentrates, constituents, extracts or metabolites of these compounds.”



Nutraceuticals Broadly can be classified as:-

Nutrients:-  Substances which have established nutritional functions e.g. vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. Herbals/ Phytochemicals:- Herbs or Botanical products.  Dietary Supplements:- Probiotics, prebiotics, antioxidants, enzymes 5.


Table 1: A systematic classification on the basis of therapeutically important compounds of the nutraceuticals products responsible for the specific health benefit (5)

Sr. no.




Inorganic mineral supplements



Vitamin supplements



Digestive enzymes




Lactobaccilus acidophilus



Digestive enzymes


Dietary fibres



Cereals and grains



Health drinks




Natural antioxidants







Fatty acids







Tea polyphenols

Omega-3-fatty acids


Soya proteins


Herbs as a functional foods

Soya proteins




Most common Nutrients used/ supplemented as nutraceutical are minerals and vitamins or in combination or in combination with other antioxidants.


Health Benefits of different common nutrient as shown in table 1

Vitamins 6

A vitamin is an organic compound required as a vital nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound (or related set of compounds) is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet.



Table 2: Classification of vitamins, their source and deficiency diseases

Name of vitamin


Deficiency disease

Vitamin A1

Vitamin A2

Fish liver oil, liver Kidney, cheese, butter carrots, spinach, pumpkins, papaya

Night blindness, xerophthalmia,


Vitamin D

Fish liver oil, wheat germ oil, egg yolk, milk, butter

Rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults

Vitamin E

Wheat germ oil, cotton seed oil, peanut oil

Sterility, degenerative changes in muscle, ageing of skin

Vitamin K

Cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, alfalfa

Haemorrhagic condition

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B2

Cereals, pulses

Nuts, yeast


Cheilosis, corneal opacity

Vitamin B3(panthothenic acid)

Liver, meat, yeast

Chick dermatitis

Folic acid

Nicotinic acid (B5)

Pyridoxine (B6)

Biotin (Vitamin H)

Rice polishing, yeast, egg, milk

Macrocylic anaemia


Depression, mental confusion

Anemia, nausea, glossitis




Large number of elements control variety of physiological and biochemical functions of human body. Most of these minerals are provided through the diet but their deficiency in diet may develop variety of health related problems and diseases.



Calcium is an important element in the treatment of decalcification of bone. Calcium deficiency is found in 25% of women, even though much higher percentages have osteopenia or osteoporosis. Prepuberty is the best time to begin supplementing the diet with calcium rich minerals along with exercise regimen. Sufficiently intake of calcium and vitamin D post menopausally can significantly reduce the risk for fracture.



Magnesium is an essential element involved in various enzymatic processes and critical in the proper use and maintenance of calcium. Many individuals with calcium deficiency are actually magnesium deficient which prevent proper use of calcium.



Manganese is required in several enzymatic reactions and necessary for proper bone and cartilage formation.



Boron is reported to be helpful in supporting the calcium and estrogen level in post menopausal in women.



Copper is an essential element needed by all tissues in the body. Copper and Zinc must be in proper formation. Copper is best absorbed when bound to an amino acids.



Zinc is one of the most important trace mineral. Zinc supports the bodies overall antioxidant system by scavenging free radicals. It also performs many other vital functions.



Phosphorous important in maintaining bone structure and modulating plasma and bone formation.



Silicon is concentrated in the active growth areas of bone. It influences both for bone formation and calcification.


Herbs as Functional Food:

A great attention has nowadays been given to discover the link between dietary nutrients and disease prevention. Large numbers of herbs which had been in use since unknown time have been shown to play a crucial role in t he prevention of disease. In addition to the macro and micro nutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals necessary for normal metabolism, a plant based diet contains numerous nonnutritive phytoconstituents which may also play an important role in health enhancement. A brief overview of the role of various herbs in disease prevention, with a focus on bioactive components from flaxseeds, garlic, citrus, fruits, soyabean, ginkgo biloba has been given in this part of the nutraceuticals 8.



Flaxseeds are the dried ripe seeds of Linum usitatissimum, family Linaneae. The components are of great interest as functional food. Flaxseed incorporations into the diet are particularly attractive from the perspective of specific health benefit. Flaxseed has been recorded as one of the six plant materials as cancer preventive foods. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) has a broad spectrum of health advantages. It inhibits the production of eicosanoids, alters the production of several prostanoids, reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients and lowers triglycerides and cholesterol. Dietary ALA may retard tumour growth and plays an important role in metastatis. It has been suggested that AlA is dietary essential for optimal neurological development of humans especially during fetal and early postnatal life. Dietary fibres of flaxseeds contain about 6% mucilage which has nutritional value. It appears to play a role in reducing diabetes and coronary heart disease risk, preventing colon and rectal cancer and reduces the incidence of obesity 9.


Ginkgo biloba:

Ginkgo biloba, family Ginkgoaceae, known as fossil tree is an important drug used in traditional Chinese medicine since more than 2800 years. Mainly leaves and edible seeds are used as drugs. Ginkgolides A, B, C and bilobalide are also the therapeutically active constituents. Leaf contains 6-hydroxykynurenic acid, a metabolite of tryptophan. The leaves are recommended as being beneficial to the beneficial to the heart and lungs. Ginkgolides present in the leaves are able to alleviate the adverse effects of platelet-activating factor in a number of tissues and organs both in animals and in humans. It is also effective in the treatment of arterial insufficiency in the limbs and in the brain 10.


Garlic organosulfur compounds:

Garlic consists of the fresh or dried bulbs of Allium sativum, family Liliaceae. Garlic is used as an adjuent to dietic management in the treatment of hyperlipidaemia and in the prevention of atherosclerotic (age dependent) vascular changes and also reduces hypertension 11. Fresh garlic juice, aged garlic extract or the volatile oil, all lowers cholesterol and plasma lipids, lipid metabolism, and atherogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. The mechanism of garlics antihypercholesterolaemic and antihyperlipidaemic activity appears to involve the inhibitin of hepatic HMG-CoA reductase and remodeling of the plasma lipoprotein and cell membrane. The overall activity of garlic is mainly due to the presence of sulfur compound such as allin, allicin, ajoene and others. Garlic has been reported to reduce the risk of colon cancer and lung carcinoma. Consumption of one or more servings of fresh or powdered garlic per week resulted in a 50% lower risk of cancer of the distal colon and a 35% lower risk of cancers anywhere in the colon.


Citrus limonoids:

Citrus fruit consumption has been shown to protect against a variety of human cancers. The citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are the principal source of important nutrients like vitamins C, folate, fibres and vitamins E, but the other monoterpene compounds known as limonoids are reported to be responsible for the anticancer activity. D-limonene, a predominant monocyclic monoterpene found in essential oil of citrus fruits has been reported to be a cancer chemopreventive agent. The mechanism of antitumour activity of limonoids include the induction of hepatic detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase and uridine diphosphoglucoronosyl tranferase. Limonene has little or no toxicity in humans and has been suggested as a good candidate for human clinical chemoprevention 12.


Soya products:

Soyabean, Glycin max, family Leguminoseae has clearly been a plant food in the spotlight in the 1990s. It has been recognized as an excellent source of protein, equivalent to quality to animal protein. Soya has been extensively investigated for its ability to treat and prevent a variety of chronic diseases including cancer. Soya bean meals, concentrates and isolates are used as meat substitute and have many healthful benefits.  Soyabean is also a major source of lecithins which yields liposomes used to formulate stable emulsions and finds major use in food technology. The primary isoflavones in soya, genistein and daidzein are structurally similar to the estrogenic steroids and have been reported to have estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities. Due to their weaker activity, isoflavones may act as antiestrogens by competing with the more potent naturally occurring estrogens for binding to the estrogen receptor. Due to this, soya consumption may reduce the risk for estrogen-dependent cancers. South East Asian populations who consume 20-80 mg of genistein per day are found to have significantly lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer. Genistein has been reported to be a potent and specific inhibitor of protein tyrosine kinase. Genistein also inhibits DNA topoisomerase II activity, alters cell cycle specific events, induce apoptosis and inhibits angiogenetic process which is essential for tumour growth 13.


Tomato lycopenes:

Lycopene is a carotenoid principle present in lycopersicon family Solanaceae known throughout the world as tomato. Clinical studies have indicated that lycopene significantly lowered the risk of prostate cancer. The candidates that consumed processed tomato products about 10times per week had less than one half the risk of developing prostate cancer. Lycopene activity is likely to be related to its antioxidant function because lycopene has been reported to be the most efficient quencher of singlet oxygen in biological system. Lycopene has also been shown to reduce risk of other types of cancers of digestive tract, pancreas, cervix, bladder and skin. Recently it has been proved that low plasma lycopene levels may be an independent risk factor for lung cancers especially in smokers 14.



Probiotics are live microbial food ingredients, which are beneficial to health 15. Colon is the most densely populated region of the gastrointestinal tract and harbors an estimated 500 different bacterial species. The various types of bacteria that are having the probiotics characteristics are-


Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Lactobacillus reuteri

Lactobacillus case

Bifidobacterium breve

Streptococcus 16


Characteristics of probiotic bacteria:

Bacteria should have the following features:

1. GRAS (generally recognized as safe)

2. In vitro resistance to hydrochloric acid and pancreatic juice

3. Produce antimicrobial substances

4. Compete with bad bacteria to adhere on the gut wall.

5. Compete for the nutrients and stimulate immunity and

6. Alter the intestinal micro flora balance, inhibit growth of harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, boost immune function and increase resistance to infection.



Prebiotics are the substances, which reach to colon in intact form i.e. without getting depleted by the gastric pH and digestive acids. These prebiotics also selectively promote the growth of colonel probiotic bacteria; hence they act as fertilizers for these bacteria. These are collective term for non-digestive but a fermentable dietary carbohydrate that may selectively stimulates growth of certain bacterial groups’ resident in the colon, such as Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli considered to be beneficial for the human host. Inulin, which is soluble dietary fibres and resistant to digestive enzyme and thus reaches to large intestine or colon essentially intact, where it is fermented by resistant bacteria, Lactobacilli.

The food components or ingredients (prebiotics) resists host digestion, absorption and absorption processes, fermented by the microflora colonizing the gastrointestinal system. Selectively stimulates the growth and/or the activity of one or a limited number of bacteria with the gastrointestinal system 17, 18.



Antioxidants are substances, which retard or prevent deterioration, damage or destruction caused by oxidation. The common disease and ailments of 21st century (CVS, diabetes, cataracts, high blood pressure, infertilities, respiratory infection, and rheumatoid arthritis) are associated with tissue deficiency and/or low dietary levels of compounds called antioxidants. During oxidation free radicals are generated. These free radicals at a molecular level burn everything they touch. Antioxidants are power full electron donors and react with free radical damage the biomolecules. The formed antioxidant radical is stable and unreactive. Antioxidants are quite large in number and diverse in nature which oppose the process of oxidation largely by neutralizing free radicals at relatively small concentrations have the potential to inhibit to inhibit the oxidants chain reactions 19.  Dietary antioxidants and some accessory molecules, such as zinc and certain vitamins are important in maintaining free radical scavenging systems, biosynthetic capacity, membranes, and enzymes. Antioxidants are found in the vegetable oils. eg- Soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, oat oil, wheat germ oil, palm oil, evening prime rose oil 20.


Mechanism of action of antioxidants:21




Figure 1: Mechanism of antioxidants


It has been observed that the presence of free radicals causes cytotoxicity, alteration of enzymes and nucleic acid and peroxidation of lipids which results in loss of cell membrane integrity which initiates the aging process before time. Naturally occurring antioxidants are superoxide dismutase, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, lectoferrin, carotenoids and other plant pigments. They are present in fixed oils, fruits, vegetables and fishes.


Digestive enzymes:

Much of the reflux is not caused by increased production of acid in the stomach but from poor digestion because of too little acid. As we grow older stomach cells responsible for acid production diminishes, this in turn slows the transit time of food in the stomach causing reflux of food from the oesophagus. So we have to use a variety of digestive enzymes to help absorption and digestion of food materials. There are animals as well as plant derived digestive enzymes. The principle digestive enzyme in the pepsin, present in the gastric juices, which helps in the digestion of proteins. It is obtained from the glandular layer of fresh stomach of hog, Sus scrofa var domesticus of family suidae  Pancreatin, an enzyme obtained from pancrease of certain animals like hog (sus scrofa) family suidae or Ox bostaurus of family Bovidae. It is employed as digestive aid for converting starch into dextrin and sugar. Each gram contains not less than 12,000 units of amylase activity, 1000 units of protease activity and 15,000 unit lipase activity 22.


Another important digestive enzyme of animal origin is trypsin obtained from mammalian pancreas like Ox bostaurus of family Bovidae, Chymotrypsin also obtained from the same source. Urokinase, fibrinolysin, deoxy-ribonuclease, streptokinase are the other animal derived digestive enzymes. Papain, the plant proteolytic enzyme obtained from Carica papaya fruits have anti inflammatory activity. Bromelain derived from stem and fruits of pineapple plant Ananas comosus of family Bromeliaceae are used for the treatment of tissue inflammation and oedema due to surgery and injury.


Health Drink:

Drinks are the fast developing area of nutraceuticals. Some of these health drinks are fortified with the anti oxidants, vitamin A, C, E. The fruits and vegetable juices have also been shown to produce the health benefits. A Tropicana fruit juice fortified with calcium provides about 365mg calcium per 250 ml glass. An ideal health drink Increases physical endurance, improves and increase concentration and reaction speed. E.g. almond sharbat (almond soft drink) and saffron sharbat 23.


Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid:

Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development but cannot be synthesized by our body. Omega-3 fatty acids belong to this class. Long chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaoic acid and docosagexanoic acids are built up in algae and plankton and the fish living on them. The natural vegetable oils and marine animal oils containing polyunsaturated fatty acid belong to Linoleic group (omega 6-type and omega 3-fatty acid) help to reduce cholesterol formation/deposition and prevent thromboxane formation. E.g.- safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, mustard oil and primrose oil, flax oil, hemp seed, borage seeds.  Following are diseases for which polyunsaturated fatty acids are preferred 24, 25

        Heart disease and stroke

        Rheumatoid arthritis

        Inflammatory arthritis

        Inflammatory bowel disease



        Chronic lung failure

        Kidney transplant


Table 3: Functional food components and their health benefits 24, 25


Functional Components

Potential health benefits

Fruits, vegetables, carrots

(Alpha) a- And (beta)β- carotene

Neutalise damage of free radicals to cells

Green Vegetables


Reduce the risk of muscular Degeneration

Tomato Products(ketchup,sauces), watermelon


Reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Oats, barley

(beta)β- glucan

Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

Salmon and other fish oil

Long chain  (omega)ω- 3 PUFA

Reduce risk of CVD, eye function and mental disorders

Cheese, meat products, evening primrose oil, skin

Conjugated linoleic acid (gamma) y-linolenic acid

Decrease risk of certain cancers, anti-obesity,irritations.

Daidzen and Genistein

Soy Protein Isoflavones

Blood Pressure, heart disease and some cancers, lower LDL cholesterol



Nutraceuticals and Diseases:

Cardiovascular diseases:

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is the name for the group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), heart failure, peripheral vascular disease etc 24. This apart, nutraceuticals in the form of antioxidants, dietary fibers, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), vitamins, and minerals are recommended together with physical exercise for prevention and treatment of CVD. It has been demonstrated that the molecules like polyphenols present in grapes and in wine alter cellular metabolism and signaling, which is consistent with reducing arterial disease. Optimal nutrition, nutraceuticals, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, weight reduction, exercise, cessation of smoking, restriction of alcohol and caffeine plus other lifestyle modifications can prevent, delay the onset, reduce the severity, treat, and control hypertension. Nutrients and nutraceuticals with calcium channel blocking activity thus antihypertensive activity) include α-Lipoic acid, magnesium, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin C, Nacetyl cysteine, Hawthorne, Celery, ω-3 fatty acids etc. Cholesterol has long been implicated as a significant risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Sterols occur in most plant species and are called as phytosterols. Although green and yellow vegetables contain significant amounts, their seeds concentrate the sterols. Milk and eggs are the important animal sources of nutraceuticals like proteins and polyunsaturated fats or essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs are required for production and rebuilding of cells, to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce the risk of blood clots, help prevent many diseases including arthritis, arrhythmias, and other cardiovascular diseases. Fatty acids of the omega-3 series (n-3 fatty acids) present in fish are well established dietary components affecting plasma lipids and the major cardiovascular disorders, such as arrhythmia


Obesity:21, 22

Obesity, defined as an unhealthy amount of body fat, is a well-established risk factor for many disorders like angina pectoris, congestive heart failure, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, respiratory disorders, renal vein thrombosis, osteoarthritis, cancer, reduced fertility etc. One of the primary causes this rapid rise in obesity rates is the increased availability of high-fat, energy dense foods. A tolerable and effective nutraceutical that can increase energy expenditure and/or decrease caloric intake is desirable for body weight reduction. Herbal stimulants, such as ephedrine, caffeine, ma huang-guarana, chitosan and green tea have proved effective in facilitating body weight loss. 5-hydroxytryptophan and green tea extract may promote weight loss, while the former decreases appetite, the later increases the energy expenditure.


Diabetes mellitus:22

Diabetes mellitus is characterized by abnormally high levels of blood glucose, either due to insufficient insulin production, or due to its ineffectiveness. The most common forms of diabetes are type 1 diabetes (5%), an autoimmune disorder, and type 2 diabetes (95%), which is associated with obesity. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnancy. Omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to reduce glucose tolerance in patients predisposed to diabetes. For the synthesis of the long chain n-3 fatty acids, insulin is required; the heart may thus be particularly susceptible to their depletion in diabetes. Ethyl esters of n-3 fatty acids may be potential beneficial in diabetic patients. Docosahexaenoic acid modulates insulin resistance and is also vital for neurovisual development. This is especially important in women with gestational diabetes mellitus which foster the recommendation for essential fatty acids during pregnancy. Lipoic acid is a universal antioxidant, now used in Germany for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. It is possible that lipoic acid may be more effective as a long-term dietary supplement aimed at the prophylactic protection of diabetics from complications.



According to the World Cancer Report the cancer rates there would be 15 million new cases in the year 2020 i.e. a rise in 50%. Cancer has emerged as a major public health problem in developing countries, matching the industrialized nations. A healthy lifestyle and diet can help in preventing cancer. Flavonoids found in citrus fruit appear to protect against cancer by acting as antioxidants. Soyfoods are a unique dietary source of isoflavones, the polyphenolic Phytochemical exemplified by epigallocatechin gallate from tea, curcumin from curry and soya is flavones possess cancer chemo preventive properties. The main soybean isoflavones, genistein, daidzein, biochanin inhibits prostate cancer cell growth. Lycopene prevents cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal tract. It concentrates in the skin, testes, adrenal and prostate where it protects against cancer. Beta-carotene, the important precursor of vitamin A has anti-oxidant properties and help in preventing cancer and other diseases. Saponins are reported to possess antitumor and antimutagenic activities and can lower the risk of human cancers, by preventing cancer cells from growing.


Inflammatory disorders

Inflammation is the response of body tissues to injury or irritation, characterized by pain and swelling and redness and heat. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in joints. Some types of arthritis associated with inflammation include: rheumatoid arthritis shoulder tendinitis or bursitis gouty arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. Micronutrients for which preliminary evidence of benefit exists include vitamin C and vitamin D. In addition, numerous nutraceuticals that may influence osteoarthritis pathophysiology, including glucosamine, chondroitin, Sadenosylmethionine, ginger and avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, have been tested in clinical trials. These products are safe and well tolerated, but interpretation of the collective results is hampered by heterogeneity of the studies and inconsistent result. Resveratrol shows the strongest sirtuin-like deacetylase action of any known phytochemical. Sirtuins have been shown to extend the lifespan of yeast and fruit flies. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, antifungal and inhibits cyclooxygenase1 enzyme. Other beneficial health effects include anti-cancer, antiviral, neuroprotective, anti-aging and life-prolonging effects 26. The omega-3 and omega-6 series play a significant role in health and disease by generating potent modulatory molecules for inflammatory responses, including eicosanoids (prostaglandins, and leukotrienes), and cytokines (interleukins) and affecting the gene expression of various bioactive molecules.



Osteoarthritis (OA), a debilitating joint disorder, is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, where it affects an estimated 21 million people. In 2004, the direct and indirect health care costs associated with all forms of arthritis were approximately 86 billion dollars. Joint discomfort from OA and other joint disorders may reduce physical activity in individuals experiencing this condition, resulting in energy imbalance and weight gain. Increased weight can exacerbate existing problems, through additional stress on joints. Glucosamine (GLN) and chondroitin sulfate (CS) are widely used to alleviate symptoms of OA. These nutraceuticals have both nutrient and pharmaceutical properties and seem to regulate gene expression and synthesis of NO and PGE2, providing a plausible explanation for their anti inflammatory activities 27.


Allergy is a condition in which the body has an exaggerated response to either a drug or food. Quercetin (QR) belongs to a group of polyphenolic substances known as flavonoids. QR is a member of the class of flavonoids called flavonols. It is widely distributed in the plant kingdom in rinds and barks. Especially rich sources of QR include onions, red wine and green tea. QR is a natural antihistamine and opposes the actions of the histamine in the body. Histamines are responsible for allergic and inflammatory reactions. It can help reduce the inflammation that results from hay fever, bursitis, gout, arthritis, and asthma. QR inhibits some inflammatory enzymes, such as lipid peroxidases, and decreases leukotriene formation. QR has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, immunomodulatory, anticancer and gastroprotective activities. QR blocks an enzyme that leads to accumulation of sorbitol, which has been linked to nerve, eye, and kidney damage in those with diabetes. QR also possesses potent antioxidant properties. It protects LDL cholesterol from becoming damaged. QR prevents damage to blood vessels by certain forms of cholesterol and other chemicals produced by the body 28.


Alzheimer's disease:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by progressive dementia with memory loss as the major clinical manifestation. Nutraceutical antioxidants like β-Carotene, curcumin, lutein, lycopene, turmerin etc may exert positive effects on specific diseases by neutralizing the negative effects oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and various forms of neural degeneration 29.


Parkinson's disease:30

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that results from nerve damage in certain regions of the brain causing muscle rigidity, shaking, and difficult walking 22, usually occurring in mid to late adult life. Creatine appeared to modify Parkinson’s disease features as measured by a decline in the clinical signs. The following are the FDA-approved health claims showing a positive relationship between a certain compound and reduced risk of specific disease(s):


      Potassium-    High blood pressure and stroke

      Plant sterol and plant stanol esters-    Coronary heart disease

      Soy protein-    Coronary heart disease

      Calcium - Osteoporosis

      Fiber- containing grain products, fruits and vegetables-  Cancer

      Fruits, vegetables and grain products that contain fiber, Particularly soluble fiber- Coronary heart disease

      Fruits and vegetables-Cancer


      Folic acid-Neural tube birth defects

      Dietary soluble fiber, such as that found in whole oats and psyllium seed- Coronary heart disease

      Dietary sugar alcohol-   Dental caries (cavities)


The remaining three FDA-approved health claims are based on diets low in “negative” nutrients in food, such as sodium. These health claims shows a relationship between certain compounds and an increased risk of disease(s):


      Dietary fat -  Cancer

      Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol-  Coronary heart disease


Table 4: Nutraceuticals used in various disease conditions



Allergy relief 

Ginkgo biloba 

Arthritis support 


Cancer prevention 

Flax seeds, green tea 

Cardiac diseases 


Cholesterol lowering 


Digestive support

Digestive enzymes 

Diabetic support 

Garlic, momordica 

Female hormone support 

Black conosh, false unicorn 



Prostate support 

Tomoto lycopenes  


Market Interest of Nutraceuticals:31-33

The nutraceuticals industry is still in its formative period, and at present there is no universal agreement or legal definitions of the terms and designations used by this industry sector. According to the widely accepted definition, "A nutraceutical is any substance that is a food or a part of a food and provides medical or health benefits including the prevention and treatment of disease." Products include isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and processed foods such as cereals, soups, soyfood, and beverages. The nutraceuticals market comprises two principal segments: Functional Foods and Dietary Supplements. Functional foods are similar in appearance to a conventional food or beverage, are consumed as part of a normal diet, and have been demonstrated to have physiological benefits or to reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions. Functional foods can also promote growth and development and enhance performance, and can take many forms. Some may be conventional foods with bioactive components that can now be identified and linked to positive health outcomes (e.g., soy protein, oat fiber, cranberries, tomatoes and carrot juice). Some may be fortified to enhance foods or specifically created to reduce disease risk (e.g., vitamin- and mineral-fortified cereal, folate-fortified flour and grain products, calcium-enriched orange juice or milk, phytosterol-fortified spreads). Dietary supplements are foodstuffs that are intended to supplement the normal diet and that are concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone or in combination, marketed in pharmaceutical dose form and administered orally. Dose forms include capsules, pastilles, tablets, pills and other similar forms, sachets of powder, ampoules of liquids, drop dispensing bottles, and other similar forms of liquids and powders designed to be taken in measured small unit quantities. Dietary supplements contain all products that can be purchased by the consumer without a prescription.


The nutraceutical market is becoming more competitive with the entry of pharmaceutical and major food companies into the nutraceutical arena. Also, many food companies have established their nutraceutical divisions with a view toward a diversified product line. Pharmaceutical companies have also joined the race by acquiring dietary supplement producers. Recent years have marked the entry of major food and pharmaceutical companies into the nutraceutical marketplace, including Kellogg, Heinz, MandM, Quaker Oats, Unilever, Cargill, Hormel, Glaxo-SmithKline, Warner-Lambert, Johnson and Johnson and Wyeth.



Table 5: Nutraceuticals available  in  market 32, 34-37

Brand name





Immune function


Lutein esters

Eye health


a-lipoic acid

Potent antioxidant



CHD reduction

Premium probiotics


Intestinal disorder


Soyabean phytoestrogen

Bone health


Lignan extract flax

Prostate health


Fenugreek galactomannon

Control blood sugar


Green tea extract

Potent antioxidant


w 3 FA, DHA, EPA

Heart health protection



Weight loss ingredient



Reduce cholesterol



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Received on 05.04.2016       Accepted on 25.04.2016     

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Asian J. Res. Pharm. Sci. 2016; 6(2): 85-94

DOI: 10.5958/2231-5659.2016.00012.6