Nutraceuticals often referred to as phytochemicals or functional food, are a group of products used both as nutrition for general well-being or as a medicine to control symptoms. These products are helpful in maintaining body growth, improving health, delaying the aging process, physiological balance,  increasing life expectancy, and preventing malignant processes. It is considered as a combination of the word “nutrient,” as a nourishing food component, and “pharmaceutical,” as a medical drug. As of now, there are no defined criteria for nutraceuticals, therefore countries worldwide follow different rules and regulations to classify nutraceuticals. Most countries consider them as dietary supplements while in some countries they are considered as alternative medicines.

Nutraceuticals are one of the fastest-growing segments in the healthcare industry. The consumer demand for Nutraceuticals has also grown significantly over the past 2-3 decades. A high coverage by the media, increase in chronic and non-communicable diseases, a shift in consumer behavior toward preventive healthcare, and rising health consciousness among the younger generation are the major reasons for the Nutraceuticals Market Growth. The rising healthcare costs are also making the way for Nutraceuticals demand. People are preferring Nutraceuticals as an alternative for high-cost over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. This segment is also attracting major prominent companies worldwide, providing them enough opportunities to generate revenue, capture market share, and enter new geographies.

What is the Difference Between Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical?

Nutraceuticals products are also called medical foods, designer foods, and nutritional supplements. Pharmaceutical and Nutraceuticals, both are considered to share similar properties and functionalities. However, there are several issues associated with Nutraceuticals. Nutraceutical products lack in terms of their well-defined benefits and legal acceptance by health authorities, while the Pharmaceutical products are undergone several steps of a clinical trial before they are launched in the market. To overcome this issue, several trials were carried out to find the effectiveness and the safety of Nutraceutical products for general public use. 

The human body may respond differently to both Nutraceuticals and Pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals definitely provide high intent value as compared to Nutraceuticals. To treat serious illnesses and conditions the Pharmaceuticals can be the first option, similarly, Nutraceuticals can be taken to promote good health and wellbeing. To cater to the highly dynamic demand from different sections of the population, the scope for the existence of both the products in the markets to go parallel is quite possible.

What are the Categories of Nutraceuticals?

Nutraceuticals can be categorized into dietary supplements, functional food, medicinal food, farmaceuticals, herbal products, and isolated nutrients. The dietary supplements provide nutrients derived from food products and are often concentrated in liquid, capsule, powder, or pill form. In the USA, the FDA regulates dietary supplements, although the agency follows different regulatory criteria that it uses for drugs.

The functional foods include probiotics, oats, branded ionized salt, omega fatty acid fortified food, and several other enriched or enhanced dietary components. The functional foods help to reduce the risk of chronic disease and provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains. Farmaceuticals (often called recombinant Nutraceuticals) are medical components produced by modified agricultural crops or animals. The Farmaceuticals are genetically engineered to produce medically valuable compounds such as drugs or antibodies. 

Medical food belongs to a type of therapeutic agent that provides nutritional benefits for a specific disease or condition and is consumed or administered orally. The medicinal food is taken to overcome inflammatory conditions, Crohn’s disease, GERD, ADHD, ulcerative colitis, cancer, hyperhomocysteinemia, pancreatic exocrine insufficiency, and several others. Similarly, age-related or chronic diseases patients are advised to take Medical food to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the body. Medical food is often taken under the strict supervision of the physician. The effectiveness of medical food still requires further study. 

What is the Reason Behind Nutraceutical Industry Growth?

The demand for the nutraceutical is growing at a rapid pace. Today, it is a multibillion-dollar industry, and showing no sign of stopping in the coming years.  Even though they are not regularized by the health authorities and governments, the people have quite a high level of trust with the use of these products. As per DelveInsight, the Nutraceuticals Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.82% by 2026, similarly, the market size is also anticipated to reach 624.87 USD Billions by 2026 from 378.5 USD Billions in 2020. The overall prospect for market growth looks promising with growing demand and active participation by global companies in the segment. 

Often it is observed that women are more inclined towards the nutraceuticals used as compared to men. As most of the products offer solutions for hair, skin, urinary tract wellness, and immunity. Similarly, the younger generation, the people affected by chronic disease, and the old age population are providing the necessary stimulus to the Nutraceutical industry growth. A mistrust in conventional medicine and rising healthcare costs is also setting the pace for nutraceutical demand. Nutraceuticals are widely available and are found to be economically affordable. Currently, the United States and the European countries hold the major chunk of the market share, however, developing countries like India and China are also observing significant growth. 

What are the Key Benefits and Side-Effects of Nutraceuticals?

The key benefit of Nutraceuticals consumption is to attain good health and prevent chronic diseases.  These products are recommended to prevent life-threatening diseases such as excessive weight, digestive upsets, high cholesterol, diabetes, prevent or treat hypertension, constipation, renal disease, gastrointestinal disorders, osteoporosis, arthritis, and many different infections. 

Currently, several studies are going on to assess the effectiveness of Nutraceuticals for conditions such as allergy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, immune system, cardiovascular diseases, and inflammatory diseases. Apart from these, researchers are analyzing the Nutraceuticals benefit for biological processes, including antioxidant defenses and cell proliferation.

Nutraceuticals are natural dietary supplements and are considered safe for health. In some specific cases, Nutraceuticals products can cause certain side effects such as allergic reactions, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmias, and others. If taken in combination with other therapeutic drugs, it can lead to blood thinning, which can be fatal for some particular age group people. It is always advisable to consult healthcare professionals before taking specific Nutraceuticals to avoid any health risks. Similarly, in some cases, the use of both pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals can lead to certain harmful impacts on the body. Most often the people belonging to older age, are chronically ill or are of young age, tend to have a high risk for the side effects. 

Key Companies in the Nutraceuticals Market

Over the past few decades, Nutraceuticals products have observed a significant growth in demand across age groups and geographies. Several key companies are actively exploring the Nutraceuticals domain to gain market share and generate revenue. 

Currently, some of the top global companies in the Nutraceutical Market include DuPont de Nemours, Koninklijke DSM N.V., Cargill, Incorporated, Archer Daniels Midland Company, BASF SE, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited, Tate & Lyle Plc, Kerry, Ingredion Incorporated, and Glanbia. Most of these companies have their presence in several countries worldwide and also offer a wide range of Nutraceutical products to cater consumer needs.

What lies ahead. 

The lack of regulatory approval for product use is one of the major challenges for Nutraceuticals. Government bodies need to carefully analyze the various aspects associated with these products including safety, inappropriate use, overdose, long-term adverse effects, toxicity, and marketing strategies by companies in the domain. Due to different legal statuses, the government worldwide follows different approaches for approval and promotion processes that hinder the marketing and distribution strategy of the companies and the large-scale adaptability of these products. The proactive steps in regulation will generate demand from the consumer side and also increase trust and interest. Similarly, it will influence the other key players to invest and enter the Nutraceuticals market
Currently, many research and development activities by the institutions and academia are going on around Nutraceuticals benefits and drawbacks on the human body. The positive outcome of these researches and the active participation from the companies are likely to create a significant impact in the coming years. Similarly, the changing lifestyles, growing old age population, increasing investment, rising health consciousness among the young generation, high purchasing power, are expected to keep the Nutraceuticals market growth forward.