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Posted on: May 24th, 2022

The word nutraceuticals are often used to describe nutritional research and application as a whole. But what are the most commonly used nutraceuticals? What do people mean when they mention taking a nutraceutical?

Nutraceutical is a very broad term and its use is not specifically regulated or legally defined by many countries, including the US. In the US, dietary supplements are legally defined, and many people use the terms nutraceutical and dietary supplement interchangeably. And,  many researchers and manufacturers focus on similar areas of application of dietary supplements or nutraceuticals. For example, vitamins and mineral pills, herbal-based dietary supplements, and probiotics are all considered nutraceuticals. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used or ‘popular’ nutraceuticals people use every day.

Letter Vitamins

The most commonly used nutraceuticals are traditional vitamin supplements.  For example,  vitamins B, C, and D, are some of the most popular vitamins in the US.

Vitamins and multivitamin supplements are taken to give the body the essential vitamins & minerals it may not be getting from regular dietary means. Multivitamins are usually designed by manufacturers to address several areas of common vitamin deficiencies.

Vitamin supplements are available in any supermarket or pharmacy. They are the supplements we see nearly every time we make a trip to the grocery store. And yes, they are also called nutraceuticals.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins and blends are supplements for mothers during and after pregnancy. Some prenatal supplements are even recommended for women before pregnancy, as they contain vitamins and minerals conducive to healthy pregnancies and births.

Prenatal vitamins are formulated to provide the key minerals like calcium and iron, as well as vitamins women often aren’t consuming enough of, and are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy (e.g., folate, choline). Prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements are important for healthy pregnancies for many women.

Prenatal vitamins are also not meant to replace or change a healthy diet. A healthy diet is important to provide the full range of needed vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Supplements are meant to fill in the gaps for those nutrients that are needed in higher amounts or often missing from many foods so harder to get in high enough amounts.  

Probiotics

Probiotic blends are meant to enhance gut microbiota diversity, which can lead to health benefits. Probiotic supplements are tolerated differently by people with different diets and gut microbiota. As such, changes and supplementation research into probiotics (prebiotics, postbiotics, etc.) has been focusing on specific health issues to target. Popular areas of research & development include digestive health, immune health, and bowel health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids play an integral role in human health, and some omega-3 fatty acids are required in higher amounts by children for healthy development. Supplements of Omega-3 fatty acids have been popular nutraceuticals due to many of them coming primarily from less common US diets (primarily fatty fish like salmon).

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been linked to positive effects on everything from the common cold to cancer, conclusive evidence is scarce. However, it is known that omega-3 fatty acids are needed for healthy immune function.

Functional/Fortified Food & Drink

Functional or fortified foods & drinks are nutraceutical products that add vitamins, minerals, or other supplements to foods or drinks to target a specific nutritional need. Common fortified foods & drinks include dairy products like milk or yogurt.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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