“Nutraceuticals” & “Health food” shops has grown enormously, fostered by wide media coverage of their benefits. There has been a boom in their sales as patients rush to self-medicate, either in the hope that these products will be effective in treating diseases unsatisfactorily treated with pharmaceuticals, or that the adverse effects of some pharmaceuticals may be avoided.
2. Relationship between Nutraceuticals and other
Major Nutraceuticals: manufacture, source and use
Demographic trends for use of Nutraceutical supplements
4. Functional Foods
Consumer acceptance of FF
Over the last 20 years the number of “Nutraceuticals” available
for self-medication in pharmacies or for sale in supermarkets and
“Health food” shops has grown enormously, fostered by wide
media coverage of their benefits.
There has been a boom in their sales as patients rush to self-medicate,
either in the hope that these products will be effective
in treating diseases unsatisfactorily treated with pharmaceuticals,
or that the adverse effects of some pharmaceuticals may be
Dr Stephen De Felice, coined the term ‘Nutraceutical’ and
defined it as a ‘food, or parts of a food, that provide medical or
health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of
Another definition from the USA is ‘diet supplement that
delivers a concentrated form of a presumed bioactive agent
from a food, presented in a non-food matrix, and used to
enhance health in dosages that exceed those that could be
obtained from normal food’.
Nutraceuticals and other health
Pharmaceuticals are usually classed as medicines by law,
but some are freely available without legal constraints and
some are legally classed as medicines. For example, in
certain countries melatonin is classed as a medicine and is
not freely available.
Herbal remedies may be classed as medicines because of
their perceived risks with self-medication.
Functional foods are closely related to nutraceuticals as
they often contain nutraceuticals in a food-based formulation,
such as carotenoids, but others are novel biotechnological
entities derived from foods, for instance, pre- and probiotics. A
new term for these has recently been coined – ‘Phoods’ –
which presumably aims to blur the distinction between
pharmaceuticals and foods in the minds of consumers.
Vitamins can also be classed as medicines, but may be
freely available. The distinction between certain vitamins and
nutraceuticals is blurred (e.g. β-carotene, which is a vitamin A
Why consumers choose
alternative over conventional
o Many patients are not satisfied with the treatment they are
given by their doctors due to adverse effects or because it
has been ineffective.
o Another reason for choosing alternative over conventional
remedies is that patients may feel that conventional
medicine is impersonal or technologically orientated.
o Some patients prefer to have personal control over their
healthcare and therefore are happier to self-select than be
told what to take by their doctor.
• Manufacturers are increasingly
marketing novel formulations.
• Tablets, capsules and softgels are
still the most widely available
formulations, but new formulations
such as soft chews, and fast
dissolving tablets and strips are
• As with pharmaceuticals,
nutraceutical manufacturers are
extolling the virtues of controlled
release formulations for release of
precise levels of active entities over
a particular time period, in order to
achieve maximum therapeutic
effects. An example of the use of
this technology is the Novasoy soya
S.N NUTRACEUTICAL SOURCE Therapeutic area Formulation Available
1 Glucosamine Bovine trachea, shellfish Joint, skin and animal health Tablet, capsule, patch, gel,
sustained release tablet.
2 Chondroitin Bovine trachea/cartilage Joint and veterinary health Tablet, nasal drops
Meat, milk, capers, etc. Joint and veterinary health Tablet, capsule, cream,
4 Coenzyme Q10 Common foods Cardiovascular health, cancer
prevention, respiratory, skin and
animal health (antioxidant)
Tablet, capsule, chewtab,
drops, gel, gum, softgel
5 Melatonin Bovine pineal glands Cardiovascular health, cancer
prevention, sport enhancement, sleep
improvement & bone health
Tablet, patch, liquid
6 Carnitine Heart, skeletal muscle Sport enhancement, cardiovascular
and bone health, weight optimisation,
7 Acetyl-L-carnitine Brain, liver, kidney Mental health, sport enhancement,
wheatgerm, rice bran
Cardiovascular health, sport
S.N NUTRACEUTICAL SOURCE Therapeutic area Formulation Available
9 S-Adenosyl methionine Meat, yeast, vegetable26 Joint and mental health Tablet
Fish, algae, plankton,29
Joint, cardiovascular, eye and
mental health, cancer
prevention, bone, respiratory,
skin and veterinary health
Oil, soft capsule
11 ɣ-Linolenic acid Oenothera biennis,
Skin health, joint health Oil, soft capsule
12 α-Linolenic acid Linum usitatissimum Cancer prevention, respiratory
13 Conjugated linoleic acid Beef, dairy products37 Weight management, sport
14 Flax lignans Linum usitatissimum Cardiovascular health, cancer
prevention, women’s health
(antioxidant and weakly
15 Pycnogenol Pinus pinaster Cardiovascular, eye, respiratory,
and oral health (antioxidant)
16 Resveratrol Red wine, Polygonum
Cardiovascular health, cancer
prevention, women’s health
(antioxidant & weakly
S.N NUTRACEUTICAL SOURCE Therapeutic area Formulation Available
17. Grape seed
Vitis vinifera Cardiovascular and skin health
Tablet, capsule, patch, gel,
sustained release tablet
18 Lycopene Foods, including
tomato, green algae
Cardiovascular and respiratory
health, cancer prevention
Tablet, capsule, oral gel
19 Lutein Tomato, butternut
Cardiovascular, eye and skin health
20 Zeaxanthin Butternut squash Eye health (antioxidant) Capsule
21 Astaxanthin Fish, shellfish Eye and veterinary health
Tablet, capsule, liquid
22 Lipoic acid Meat, liver Cardiovascular and mental health,
23 Dehydroepiandrosterone Wild yams Cardiovascular and mental health,
24 Soy isoflavones Soy and fermented soy
Cardiovascular, mental, bone,
women’s and skin health, cancer
prevention (antioxidant and
25 Green tea extracts Camelia sinensis Cardiovascular, bone, skin and oral
health, cancer prevention and
weight management (antioxidant)
Tablet, capsule, powder,
26 Creatine Skeletal muscle Mental health, sport enhancement Tablet, capsule,
effervescent tablet, liquid
Predicted growth rate of nutraceutical
Permission to use this data from Dr C Gaertner, Cognis, is gratefully acknowledged.
USE OF NUTRACEUTICALS FOR TREATING SPECIFIC DISEASES
s.no. Medical condition Incidence of use (%)
1 Prostate cancer 5.3 Lycopene,
2 Enlarged prostate 16.9 Lycopene
3 Osteoarthritis 29.7 Glucosamine, chondroitin,
4 Neck, back, or joint pain 25.3 Glucosamine, chondroitin,
5 Degenerative eye
6 Memory loss 8.9 Fish oil, coenzyme Q10
7 Insomnia 20.0 Melatonin
8 Perimenopause 4.6 Soy products
Data extracted from Gunther S, Patterson R E, Kristal A R, Stratton K L, White E. Demographic and health-related
correlates of herbal and specialty supplement use, Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2004; 104: 27–34,
with permission from the American Dietetic Association.
Manufacture and Analysis of major
Most nutraceuticals are natural products, being derived roughly equally
from plants & animals. Some are endogenous human metabolites, while
others are common dietary constituents that appear in human metabolism,
for example lycopene. A number of entities exist in higher plants, and are
commercially extracted from them, although some are present in
insufficient levels for commercial exploitation, such as
methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and
consequently are produced commercially by chemical synthesis.
Similarly, those of animal origin may be produced by chemical synthesis,
(e.g.carnitine, creatine and the carotenoids,) but may also be produced by
fermentation, e.g coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10) and S-adenosyl methionine
The n-3 fatty acids such as DHA)/EPA and ALA are usually available as complex
mixtures, containing supradietary levels of the active constituents, and often
partial purification from the other fatty acids is not carried out..
In certain cases nutraceuticals exist in a number of isomeric forms,
which may have varied activities or even be toxic; e.g carnitine, in
which the D-form is toxic and thus chiral synthesis of the L-form is
A number of nutraceuticals have GRAS (Generally Recognized
As Safe) status as defined by the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), and increasingly manufacturers are gaining
GRAS certification for products not normally ingested (in realistic
levels) by consumption of foodstuffs, such as MSM and
As with pharmaceuticals, the analytical procedures used for
identification and quantification of nutraceuticals are becoming
increasingly sophisticated, reflecting the analytical advances, and
the desire by manufacturers to produce detailed information about
levels of active constituents in the natural materials, formulated
products & also in biological fluids in an attempt to determine the
fate of ingested entities.
Use of Nutraceutical supplements: demographic trends
• 57% of 979 adults agreed that they would like to use supplements more often,
but were unsure of what to buy. This indicated a need for more information to
be available. (Mintel Market Research in November 1998)
• prime target users of supplements - middle-aged females with an above average
income & above average education. There were also occasional users who used
supplements at a time of illness or stress, rather like a medicine. These users
were more varied in age and income and were less likely to take supplements on
a long-term basis.(Mintel Market Research in March 1999 )
• Consumers use nutraceutical supplements for many varied reasons e.g.,
– supplementation of a poor diet,
– to improve overall health,
– to delay the onset of age-related diseases,
– after illness,
– for stress,
– recommended by a health professional,
– in pregnancy and slimming,
– to improve sports performance and to treat symptoms (colds, coughs, arthritis, etc.).
One survey from 1988 to 1990, of a cohort of 2152 middle to
older age adults living in Wisconsin found that the use of
nutraceutical supplements was more prevalent among
women, people with more than 12 years of education, those
with relatively low body mass index, people with active
lifestyles, and people who had never smoked rather than
Surveys concerning the use of specific nutraceuticals: notably
creatine, cod liver oil and evening primrose oil. Creatine use
amongst members of health clubs was found to be more
likely in men using resistance training, and was associated
with the consumption of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and
other supplements used to increase strength.
The primary source of information guiding their use was
found to be popular magazines, as opposed to qualified
In most countries there is no legislative definition of the term
and drawing a border line between conventional and
functional foods is challenging even for nutrition and food
A ‘functional food’ is a natural or formulated food that has
enhanced physiological performance or prevents or treats a
particular disease. This term was first used in Japan, and by
1998 it was the only country to legally define ‘Foods for
specified health use’ (FOSHU).
Functional food is a ‘food that has a component incorporated
into it to give it a specific medical or physiological benefit,
other than purely nutritional benefit’.
[Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK]
1. Concept testing: The process through which innovation in nutritional science
occurs develops through intersecting alliances of various stakeholders as depicted
in Fig. 1. Involved are research, industry, regulatory and consumer sector
2. Product development: develop a real-world test product that embraces that
concept. For instance, production of a probiotic enriched yogurt, a cheese
enriched with omega 3 fats.
3. Efficacy/safety and evidence: Expression of a nutrition health concept through
development of a product needs to be followed by verification that the product will
mirror the original concept through the testing of biological efficacy. Efficacy
assessment is an essential element of establishing the credibility of functional
food entities , performed using in vitro or in vivo systems. Evidence also needs to
be provided by parallel studies conducted across several jurisdictions and
conducted in both academic and private sector institutional laboratories.
4. Publication: for dissemination of biological efficacy data is through publications
in peer-reviewed journals. It is equally important that negative, as well as positive,
efficacy and safety results be disseminated through peer-reviewed publication in
order to provide a balanced evaluation of the true merits of that ingredient.
5.Health claims and regulatory review: involves
communication of the health messages generated through
active research and regulatory review of a specific food
product to the general public. Regulatory review is required in
order to translate peer-reviewed published data supporting the
efficacy and safety of a given bioactive product within a novel
food matrix or capsule into policy changes consistent with
approving products for sale of functional food products.
In the UK, the Joint Health Claims Initiative (JHCI) provides guidance on
claims that are allowed for functional foods, such as fortified breakfast
cereals and ‘bio’-yoghurts. In some cases although medical claims such
as ‘helps prevent heart disease’ are not allowed, health promoting claims,
such as ‘helps lower cholesterol’ can be made, if scientific evidence
Companies marketing nutraceuticals cannot advertise specific medical
claims for their products without a medicine licence. When launching a
new product they have the option of either not doing any research at all
or researching it thoroughly and possibly obtaining a patent.
Unfortunately many companies tend towards the
former route because of the expense, To bring a
medicine to market can take about ten years and cost
US$0.8–1.7 billion,9 but to market an unlicensed
nutraceutical can take a fraction of this time and
6.Industry growth Securing specific messages on
foods attesting to their health benefits represents a vital
part of the cycle of moving a functional food from
concept to a marketing success story. Given that
consumers are both interested and informed about foods
that confer health benefits beyond simply providing
nutrients (Heller, 2006) the presence of an informative,
authoritative claim on a food will stimulate the market
share penetration of that product within its sector.
Functional food products
Most early developments of functional foods were those of fortified
with vitamins and/or minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid,
zinc, iron, and calcium.
Subsequently, the focus shifted to foods fortified with various
micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acid, phytosterol, and soluble
fiber to promote good health or to prevent diseases such as cancers.
More recently, food companies have taken further steps to develop
food products that offer multiple health benefits in a single food.
Functional food products are not homogeneously scattered over all
segments of the food and drink market and consumer health
concerns and product preferences may vary between markets. These
products have been mainly launched in the dairy-, confectionery-,
soft-drinks-, bakery- and baby-food market (Kotilainen et al., 2006;
Probiotics are defined as ‘‘live microorganisms, as they are consumed in adequate numbers
confer a health benefit on the host’’.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria, the most studied and widely employed bacteria
within the probiotic field.
Dairy products are the key product sector. The sensitivity of probiotics to physical and chemical
stress, heat and acidity makes the product development challenging for other type of food
product. Recently encapsulation was assessed as possible technology for decreasing sensitivity
of such probiotics (Clair, 2007; Mattila-Sandholm et al, 2002).
Extensive R&D activity resulted in a number of special new dairy products (e.g. Synbiofir
drinking kefir, Synbioghurt drinking yoghurt, HunCult fermented drink, Milli Premium sour
cream, Aktivit quark dessert, New Party butter cream, Probios cheese cream) (Szaka´ ly, 2007).
Fruit juice has also been suggested as a novel, appropriate medium for fortification with
probiotic cultures because it is already positioned as a healthy food product, and it is consumed
frequently and loyally by a large % of the consumer population (Tuorila & Cardello, 2002).
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by
stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon,
thus improving host health. (Charalampopoulos et al., 2003; Stanton et al., 2005)
Fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), inulin, isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO), polydextrose,
lactulose and resistant starch are considered as the main prebiotic components.
Primarily oligosaccharides, such as soy oligosaccharides (SOS), galacto-oligosaccharides
(GOS) and xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) are also marketed in Japan (Ouwehand, 2007).
Oligosaccharides play important role in obesity control through resulting increased satiety
and reduced hunger (Bosscher, 2007; Bosscher, Van Loo, & Franck, 2006; Cani,
Neyrinck, Maton, & Delzenne, 2005).
Inulin and oligofructose besides being prebiotics, have shown to increase calcium
absorption, thus improve both bone mineral content and bone mineral density (BMD)
(Bosscher et al, 2006). Furthermore, they influence the formation of blood glucose, and
reduce the levels of cholesterol and serum lipids (Lo´ pez-Molina et al., 2005).
SYNBIOTICS: foods containing a combination of probiotics and prebiotics .
Consists of non-alcoholic beverages fortified with vitamins A, C and E
or other functional ingredients.
Although, there is a relatively high number of a product available in this
segment, the market is still small and fragmented.
Other types of functional drinks are those of cholesterol lowering drinks
(with combination of omega-3 and soy), ‘‘eye health’’ drinks (with lutein)
or ‘‘bone health’’ drinks (with calcium and inulin) (Keller, 2006).
In Estonia, for example fortified juices are produced under the trade
name of Largo containing inulin, L-carnitine, vitamins, Ca and Mg as
Cereals, in particular oat and barley.
The multiple beneficial effects of cereals can be exploited in different
ways leading to the design of novel cereal foods or cereal ingredients
that can target specific populations.
Cereals can be used as
fermentable substrates for the growth of probiotic microorganisms
as sources of non-digestible carbohydrates that besides promoting several
beneficial physiological effects can act as prebiotics.
cereal constituents, such as starch, can be used as encapsulation materials for
probiotics in order to improve their stability during storage and enhance their
viability during their passage through the adverse conditions of the
gastrointestinal tract (Brennan & Cleary, 2005; Charalampopoulos et al., 2002).
functional cereal components e.g., beta-glucan, are also applied in the dairy
and bakery industries for the manufacture of low-fat ice creams and yogurts. It
makes their mouthfeel, scoopability and sensory properties resemble those of
full-fat products (Brennan & Cleary, 2005).
In relation to Functional foods bakery is still relatively underdeveloped.
Bakery products however provide ideal matrix by which functionality can
be delivered to the consumer in an acceptable food.
It is important to realize that achieving functional food quality does not
simply involve delivering the active principle at the appropriate level for
physiological effectiveness, but also supplying a product which meets
the consumer’s requirements in terms of appearance, taste and texture
In late 2003, Unilever innovated the bakery sector
by introducing a white bread called Blue Band
Goede Start, which was the first white bread
containing the nutritional elements normally
available in brown bread including fibers, vitamins
B1, B3 and B6; iron; zinc; inulin, a starch that
comes from wheat (Benkouider, 2005a).
It can be assumed that cholesterol-lowering spreads will gain increasing
relevance in the coming years due to the market introduction of e.g. a
functional variety of Becel1 margarine of Unilever (named ‘‘Becel pro-activ’’),
containing phytostanol esters which are supposed to lower the
Low-cholesterol butter under the trade name of BaladeTM has been
produced and marketed in Belgium since 1992. In this case more than
90% of the cholesterol in milk fat has been removed by the addition of
crystalline betacyclodextrin to the molten butter.
Other low-cholesterol milk products, like cheese, cream, or even low-cholesterol
egg, are produced by this technology .
Eggs are of particular interest from a functionality point of view, because
they are relatively rich in fatty acids and the associated fat-soluble
The idea of egg enrichment with omega-3 FAs simultaneously with
antioxidants & other vitamins has recently been used to produce VITA
eggs by Freshlay Foods (Devon, UK). They state that their eggs were
enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, Se, vitamins D, E, B12 and folic acid.
Eggs enriched in omega-3 and vitamin E produced by Belovo under the
trade name of Columbus first appeared in Belgium in 1997, and since
then they have been sold in the UK (from 1998), The Netherlands (from
1999), India, Japan and South Africa (from 2000). Currently, production
of Columbus egg exceeds 50 millions/year in Europe.
Similar eggs are produced by Pilgrim’s Pride Company, Gold Circle Farms
and OmegaTech in the USA (Surai & Sparks, 2001).
OF FUNCTIONAL FOODS
socio-demographic characteristics, cognitive and attitudinal factors emerged as potential
studies showed that consumer acceptance of functional foods is far from being
unconditional, with one of the main conditions for acceptance pertaining to taste, besides
trustworthiness of health claims. Although increasing the functionality of the food should
not necessarily change its sensory quality (Urala & La¨hteenma¨ ki, 2004), bitter, acrid,
astringent or salty off-flavours often inherently result from enhancing food functionality
with bioactive compounds or plant-based phytonutrients.
most of these studies identified typical functional food consumer as being female, well
educated, higher income class and older than 55.
Given the fact that prevention is a major motivation of use of functional food (Verbeke,
2006; Wrick, 1995), it can logically be hypothesized that experience with illnesses increases
probabilities of functional food acceptance
Relatively high price can be regarded as one reason for the limited market success of
several functional food products.
• Nutraceuticals & functional foods generate one of the most promising and
dynamically developing segments of food industry.
• Increasing consumer awareness in combination with new advances in various
scientific domains is supporting the inflow of functional product.
• In the case of a successful product development attention should be paid both to
consumer demands and technical conditions, furthermore, the legislation background
should not be neglected. Consumer acceptance is key success factor.
• Consumer Acceptance, is determined by factors like primary health concerns,
consumers’ familiarity with the ‘‘functional food’’ concepts and with the functional
ingredients, the nature of the carrier product, the manner of health effect
• Main conditions for acceptance of functional foods is pertaining to taste, besides,
product quality, price, convenience and trustworthiness of health claims.
• By purchasing functional foods in general consumers may achieve a modern and
positive impression of themselves. These products provide consumers a modern way
to follow a healthy lifestyle, which differs from the conventionally healthy diet defined
by nutrition experts.