The word nutraceutical was coined by “Dr. Stephen Defelice, who combined the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” . Dietary supplements or nutrition supplements are also the same as nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals can be described as nutritional products (usually found in certain foods) that are also used as medication. Often, they are used to protect the body against illnesses, working to “improve health, delay the aging process, prevent chronic diseases, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body” .
Unlike pharmaceuticals, or drugs used for medicinal purposes, nutraceuticals are not patent protected. Nutraceuticals are becoming more popularized now because they are still “often perceived as “safe” and less likely to have side effects” than pharmaceuticals . Some common nutraceuticals include “ginseng, Echinacea, green tea, glucosamine, omega-3, lutein, folic acid, and cod liver oil” .
Nutraceuticals have been shown to decrease risks of developing problems with allergies, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, eye disorders, and more. Here are some nutraceutical products that help with each of these disorders and complications:
● Allergies - Quercetin (a plant pigment sound in most plants and foods) prevents or slows damage made to cells in the body.
● Alzheimer’s - Like quercetin, “curcumin, lutein, lycopene, turmerin and β-carotene” can help cells that are damaged . These nutraceuticals are seen to have positive effects on certain diseases, such as dementia (which is the most common form of Alzheimer’s).
● Cardiovascular Disease - Along with exercise, nutraceuticals such as “vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibers and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids” can help to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease .
● Cancer - Healthy eating habits play a major role in cancer prevention. Certain nutraceuticals like lycopene, β-carotene, and ginseng can help to prevent cancer and inflammation.
● Diabetes - Omega-3, lipoic acid, and isoflavones help reduce glucose tolerance and inflammation.
● Eye Disorders - Eye complications can be prevented with nutraceuticals found in herbs, herbal extracts, and lutein (found in vegetables and fruit). Lutein is usually used to treat visual disorders.
Nutraceutical products have been proven to help prevent many different disorders that the body may develop. They are usually found in common foods that we eat every day, or as supplements you can find in a grocery store. As always, further research or a doctor’s visit is recommended before starting to take nutraceutical products, but they can be very beneficial for overall health.
Author: Kayjah Taylor
Editor: Sophia Galvez
Health scientist: Samantha Nicholson
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