The nutrition science is spreading day by day; both in scope and outreach. People are becoming more health conscious and they have started looking at the nutritive aspects of food rather than appearance and taste. Over the past few years, many new terms have come into existence that has changed the approach with which a person perceives the idea of nutrition. One such term is ‘nutraceuticals’. It is defined as the food items that have physiological benefits. They are the mixture of ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceuticals’ and are especially made to enhance human health. The term is popularized to combat the health issues and population trends. Different compounds that are used as nutraceuticals are probiotics, prebiotics, dietary fibers, antioxidants and other herbal foods. They are classified as dietary supplements and functional foods. Let us understand what they actually mean-
Dietary supplements are the products taken orally to supplement the diet with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and metabolites.They come in the form of capsules, tablets, powder etc. have you taken any dietary supplements? Most of the people take supplements for vitamins like vitamin B complex, vitamin A; minerals like zinc, iron etc. they are exclusively used by vulnerable groups like pregnant and lactating women, adolescents, and preschool children.
These are the foods that have been fortified during processing with some minerals or vitamins or any other substance. For example the golden rice that is fortified with vitamin A, milk fortified with vitamin D and common salt fortified with iron and iodine. They can be defiened as those foods having other benefits like medical benefits along with the basic benefits they are able to give. The difference between the dietary supplements and functional foods is that functional foods are consumed in their native form and can be consumed daily as normal foods and are known to prevent certain diseases and deficiencies.
The popularity of nutraceauticals is increasing every day. Being nutritionally dense and aiming to combat the deficiencies, people are showing more interest in these foods. Imagine a world where you take food as the medicine. The imagination of Hippocrates ‘let food be thy medicine’ is becoming true with nutraceuticals. They not only help you in combating the deficiencies but also any diseases that take over because of improper intake of certain nutrients.