Nutraceutical, a portmanteau of nutrition and pharmaceutical, refers to extracts of foods claimed to have a medicinal effect on human health. The nutraceutical is usually contained in a medicinal format such as a capsule, tablet or powder in a prescribed dose. More rigorously, nutraceutical implies that the extract or food is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against a chronic disease. Functional foods are defined as being consumed as part of a usual diet but are demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions. Examples of claims made for nutraceuticals are resveratrol from red grape products as an antioxidant, soluble dietary fiber products, such as psyllium seed husk for reducing hypercholesterolemia, broccoli (sulforaphane) as a cancer preventative, and soy or clover (isoflavonoids) to improve arterial health. Such claims are being researched and many citations are available via PubMed to ascertain their foundation of basic research.
Nutraceuticals are, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, foodstuffs which provide health benefits in addition to their basic nutritional value. These may include fortified foods as well as dietary supplements that can be sold in capsules, tablets or powders. The idea behind the use of nutraceuticals is that certain organic extracts can have positive benefits on both the mind and body. From cancer to vertigo, claims of nutraceuticals' effectiveness in combating or altogether curing a long list of ailments are abundant. The term "nutraceuticals" is a combination of the words nutrition and pharmaceutical, coined by Stephen DeFelice, a doctor and the founder of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM) in 1989. Since then, the popularity of nutraceuticals has soared, perhaps due in part to increasing suspicions and concerns about chemically over-processed foods and their impact on society at large.
The term "nutraceutical" was coined from "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical" in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, MD, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM), Cranford, NJ.1 According to DeFelice, nutraceutical can be defined as, "a food (or part of a food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease."1 However, the term nutraceutical as commonly used in marketing has no regulatory definition. I propose to redefine functional foods and nutraceuticals. When food is being cooked or prepared using "scientific intelligence" with or without knowledge of how or why it is being used, the food is called "functional food." Thus, functional food provides the body with the required amount of vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc, needed for its healthy survival. When functional food aids in the prevention and/or treatment of disease(s) and/or disorder(s) other than anemia, it is called a nutraceutical. (Since most of the functional foods act in some way or the other as antianemic, the exception to anemia is considered so as to have a clear distinction between the two terms, functional food and nutraceutical.) Thus, a functional food for one consumer can act as a nutraceutical for another consumer. Examples of nutraceuticals include fortified dairy products (eg, milk) and citrus fruits (eg, orange juice).