Role of Nutraceuticals in Various Diseases: A Comprehensive Review


Miss. Sarika S. Lokhande*

Gourishankar College of Pharmacy (D. Pharm) Limb, Satara.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



In recent years there is a rising interest in nutraceuticals which offer health benefits and are substitute to modern medicine. Nutraceutical-rich vegetables and fruits are an vital component of a healthy diet. It has been shown that people consuming healthy diets, living active lifestyles, not smoking and not indulging in extreme alcohol consumption. Such products include food supplements, dietary supplements, value-added processed foods as well as non-food supplements such as tablets, soft gels, capsules etc. Nutraceuticals have conventional considerable attention due to their exploratory safety, potential nutritive and therapeutic effects. To avoid side effects associated with medicines, live longer expectancy and increase the health value of our diet, nutraceuticals are being favored. Major constituents of nutraceuticals are nutrients, herbals and dietary supplements which help to maintain health, function against various diseases and ensure enhanced quality of life. The aim of this article is to provide the present knowledge about the application of various nutraceuticals in unusual diseases.


KEYWORDS: Nutraceuticals, Macronutrients and micronutrients, Dietary supplements, Disease and treatments.




The term nutraceutical was coined from nutrition and pharmaceutical in 1989 by Stephen Defelice, founder and chairman of foundation for innovation in medicine, an American organization which encourages medical health.[1]


Restated and clarified in a press release in 1994, its definition was “any substance that may be measured a food or part of a food and provides medical or health benefits, including the avoidance and treatment of disease.[2]


The term “nutraceutical” combines the word“nutrient” (a nourishing food or food component) with “pharmaceutical” (a medical drug).[3]




Fig. 1: Term nutraceutical is a hybrid of nutrition and pharmaceutical technology [5]


The actual use of Nutraceuticals is to achieve desirable therapeutic outcomes with reduced side effects. Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary, supplements and diets to hereditarily engineered ‘designer’ foods, herbal products and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages


Foods and nutrients play a very important role in normal functioning of the body. They are helpful in maintaining the health of the individual and in reducing the risk of a variety of diseases. Nutraceuticals are medicinal foods that play a role in maintaining well being, enhancing health, modulating susceptibility and thereby preventing as well as treating exact diseases.[4] Thus the field of nutraceutical can be envisioned as one of the missing blocks in the health assistance of an individual. It has been scientifically proved and supported by a variety of research articles that nutraceutical are efficient to treat and prevent a variety of disease conditions.[5]


Plants are one of the most important resources of human foods and medicines. Rapidly increasing knowledge on nutrition, medicine, and plant biotechnology has considerably changed the concepts about food, health and agriculture, and brought in a revolution on them. With recent advances in medical and nutrition sciences, ordinary products and health promoting foods have received wide consideration from both health professionals and the public.


Novel concepts have appeared with this trend, such as nutraceuticals, nutritional therapy, phytonutrients, and phytotherapy [6]. These useful or medicinal foods and phytonutrients or phytomedicines play positive roles in enhancing health, and improving immune function to prevent specific diseases and also hold great promise to reduce side effects and health care cost [7]. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Referred to the functional foods, dietary supplements, and nutraceuticals, these products have been defined as “any substance that may be measured a food or part of a food and provides medical and health benefits including the avoidance and treatment of disease.


Nutraceuticals can be classified [8] as follows:

A) On the basis of natural source:

Products can be obtained from-

1.      Plants- e.g. Indole-3-carbinol(cabbage), lycopene (tomatoes)

2.      Animals- e.g. EPA and DHA (fish oil)

3.      Minerals- e.g. selenium, iodine

4.      Microbes- e.g. Phycocyanobilin (Spirulina), lactobacillus (yogurt)


B) On the basis of pharmacological conditions, or as per chemical constituents of the products:

C) Nutraceuticals on basis of below properties:

1.      Potential Nutraceuticals (plant-foods polyphenols for diabetes)

2.      Established Nutraceuticals (polyvitamins, omega-3 fatty acids)


Most widely used food sources as Nutraceuticals are of natural sources and can be categorized as follows:

1.      Dietary fibre- e.g. beans, fruits

2.      Probiotics- e.g. yogurt, dark chocolate

3.      Prebiotics- e.g. Asparagus, almonds, apples

4.      Polyunsaturated fatty acids- e.g. olive oil, walnuts

5.      Antioxidants vitamins- e.g. vitamin C, vitamin E

6.      Polyphenols- e.g. tea, coffee, spinach

7.      Spices- E.G. Garlic, Turmeric [9]


Concepts of Nutraceuticals:

In the pharmaceutical development process, it is a condition to have clinical test results from animal tests and studies, for confirmation of the effects. On the other hand, in the case of nutrition, there was no verification technique for foods in preventing diseases in the past. In recent years however, as food composition has been scientifically established to cause lifestyle-related diseases, and has develop into a social issue.[10]



Fig: 2: concept of nutraceuticals Benefits 0f Nutraceuticals[11]


From the consumers' point of view, functional foods and nutraceuticals may recommend many benefits:

1.      May enhance the health value of our diet.

2.      May help us live longer.

3.      May help us to avoid particular medical conditions.

4.      May have a psychological benefit from doing something for one self.

5.      May be superficial to be more "natural" than traditional medicine and less likely to produce unpleasant side effects.

6.      May present food for populations with extraordinary needs (e.g. nutrient-dense foods for the elderly).


Traditional and Non- Traditional Nutraceuticals:

Extensive variety of nutraceutical foods are accessible in the market which falls in the category of conventional foods and non-traditional foods.

(a) Traditional Nutraceuticals:

Beneath the group of traditional Nutraceuticals comes food in which no alter to the food are made; It is simply natural, whole foods with new information about their probable health character[12].

(b) Nontraditional Nutraceuticals:

They are the outcome from agricultural breeding or added nutrients and/or ingredients such as orange juice fortified with calcium, cereals with added vitamins or minerals and flour with additional folic acid are nontraditional nutraceutical.


Categories of Nutraceuticals[11]:

Nutraceuticals are non-specific biological therapies used to encourage wellness, prevent malignant processes and control symptoms. They are categorized as follows.[13]

(a) Nutrients

Substances with recognized nutritional functions, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, Common nutrients and their related health benefits.


Table 1: List of nutrients and their relevance[14]

Nutrients Health benefit

Nutrients Health benefit

Vitamin A

Antioxidant, essential, for growth and development and in the treatment of certain skin disorders

Vitamin E

Antioxidant, helps form blood cells, muscles, lung and nerve tissue, boosts the immune system

Vitamin K

Essential for blood clotting

Vitamin C

Antioxidant, for healthy bones, gums, teeth and skin, in wound healing, prevent common cold and attenuate its


Vitamin B1

Helps to convert food in to energy, essential in neurologic functions.

Vitamin B2

Helps in energy production and other chemical processes in the body, helps maintain healthy eyes, skin and

nerve function.

Vitamin B3

Helps to convert food in to energy and maintain proper brain function.

Folic acid

Produce the genetic materials of cells, in pregnancy for preventing birth defects, RBCs formation, protects

against heartdisease


(b) Herbals

Herbs or botanical products as concentrates and extracts. ordinary herbs and their therapeutic relevance.


(c) Dietary Supplement[15]:

Dietary supplements are products administered through mouth that contain a dietary ingredient intended to add incredible to the foods you eat. Examples of dietary supplements are black cohosh for menopausal symptoms, ginkgo biloba for memory loss, and glucosamine/chondroitin for arthritis. They also serve precise functions such as sports nutrition, weight-loss supplements and meal replacements. Supplement ingredients may contain vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, organ tissues, gland extracts, or other dietary substances. They are available in different dosage forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, extracts, and concentrates.


Macronutrients and micronutrients:


There is much information about the important roles of various vitamins in maintaining normal metabolism and health status. Deficiency of any kind of vitamins can cause evident clinical symptoms. Scientific knowledge about vitamin metabolism and functions are well accumulated. Therefore, the majority nutraceutical or nutritional therapy products contain some vitamins, such as common vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin Bs, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. A great portion of vitamin sources for human beings is from plant foods, plant[16] biotechnology thus has been used for improvement of contents of vitamins in crops. An excellent example is “Golden Rice”, a transgenic rice with a high level of the pro-vitamin A bcarotenoid in its grains. Currently, absorption studies with Golden rice are being carried out with humans, to test the effectiveness of absorption and exchange of beta-carotene into vitamin.[17]


A. The dairy starter bacterium Lactococcus lactis has the possible to produce both folate (vitamin B11) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Vitamin C is necessary to stop disease associated with connective tissue and to improve cardiovascular and immune cell functions, and it is also used to renew vitamin E.[18] Vitamin E has been touted as a panacea for age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease and, thus, the demand for this nutraceutical has increased dramatically in recent years. These vitamin overproducing crops, such as soybean and barley, not only increase nutritional value of foods, but also can make such foods as good medicines served for vitamin-deficient people.[19]



Ca, I, Zn, Fe, Mn, Mg, and other mineral elements are necessary components for human health. Deficiency of any one of these minerals may cause grave health problems. Dietary Ca, Zn, Fe, and other minerals are taken from both meats and plant foods. Due to a variety of reasons, mineral deficiencies, mainly Ca, Zn, and Fe deficiencies, are the major health problems in rising countries, particularly for infants and children. Zn or Fe deficiency causes poor growth, impaired immune function, and delayed mental development. Although numerous mineral supplements or mineral-containing nutraceuticals are accessible on the market, poor absorption of Ca, Zn, and Fe by the humans significantly restrictions effectiveness of these supplements.[20] Many reasons, such as dietary habits, lipids and vitamin cofactors, or mineral-mineral interactions during absorption, as well as health status of individual, can persuade their absorption. Nevertheless, increasing dietary Ca, Fe, and Zn in plant foods is an significant strategy to improve mineral nutrition.



As various benefits of eating flavonoid rich plant foods for human health are well documented, increasing exacting bioactive flavonoid species in plant foods has become of great interest.



Terpenoids are the most diverse and largest class of plant natural products with wide industrial application, as provitamin A, vitamin E, flavors, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, insecticides, and anti-microbial agents. Other valuable terpenoid compounds that have been modified include the introduction of b-carotene to tomato fruits and rice and zeaxanthin to potato tubers. Tomato is a major food crop and the principal source of the carotenoid lycopene. Epidemiological studies have clearly shown the great benefits of consumption of tomato to human health due to tomato carotenoids, mainly lycopene, b- carotene, and lutein[21]


Health Benefits of Nutracuticals:

Cardiovascular diseases:

The nutraceuticals used are antioxidants, dietary fibres, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals for avoidance and treatment of CVD. Polyphenol (in grape) avoid and control arterial diseases.



dietary fibres from psyllium have been used for glucose control in diabetic patients.

Lipoic acid, an antioxidant is used for treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Ethyl esters of n-3 fatty acids may be useful in diabetic patients.[22]



Herbal stimulants,  such as ephedrine. Caffeine, ma huang-guarana, chitosan and green tea assist in body weight loss.



Flavonoids which block the enzymes that create estrogen reduce of estrogen-induced cancers.

Soy foods are resource of Iso-flavones, curcumin from curry and soya isoflavones acquire cancer chemo preventive properties. Beet roots, cucumber fruits, spinach leaves, and turmeric rhizomes were reported to possess anti-tumor activity.[23]


Anti-inflammatory activities:

Cucurmin which is a polyphenol of turmeric have anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Linoleic acid are used for treating harms with inflammation and auto-immune diseases e.g. green leafy vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils.


Vision improving agents:

Lutein also known as helenien is used for the management of visual disorders e.g. mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, tomatoes[24]


The Future of Nutraceuticals

Rising consciousness levels about fitness and health, spurred by media coverage are prompting the greater part of people to lead improved lifestyles, exercise more, and eat healthy. The growing nutraceutical market indicates that end users are seeking simply processed food with extra nutritional benefits and organoleptic value. This development, in turn, is propelling expansion in the nutraceutical markets globally.




Nutraceuticals and Diseases[25]

1) Nutraceuticals against Alzheimer's disease (AD)

Alzheimer's disease (AD), also called senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT), primary degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer's type (PDDAT), or simply Alzheimer's, is the majority ordinary form of dementia. The variety of nutraceuticals which are used to treat Alzheimer's disease is as follow:-



Antioxidants are very indispensable in the treatment of almost all diseases because the majority chronic diseases carry with them a great pact of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress plays a chief job in neurodegenerative diseases such as Phosphatidlyserine[18]. Phosphatidylserine is a very exciting complex. Phosphatidlyserine is the key phospholipids in the brain and it makes up the basic arrangement of the cell membrane. Membrane phosphatidlyserine and phospholipids play a very important role in cell-to-cell announcement and transport of biochemical letters to the cell. Phosphatidylserine boost cellular metabolism and communication, and oral supplemental outcomes neuronal membranes, cell metabolism and specific neurotransmitters: acetylcholine, nor epinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.


2) Cardiovascular diseases:

Universal, the burdens of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity is quickly increasing. In 2001, chronic diseases contributed approximately 59% of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and 46%of the global burden of disease. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is the name for the group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and consist of hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, etc. In 1999 CVD only contributed to a third of global deaths and by 2010 it would be the leading cause of death in developing countries. Majority of the CVD are preventable and controllable. It was reported that low intake of fruits and vegetables is related with a high mortality in cardiovascular disease. [26] a lot of research studies have recognized a protective role for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables against CVD.


3) Parkinson's disease:

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that results from nerve damage in certain regions of the brain causing muscle rigidity, shaking, and difficult walking ]typically happening in mid to late adult life. Canadian researchers indicated that vitamin E in food may be protective against Parkinson's disease.]Creatine appeared to modify Parkinson’s disease features as measured by a decline in the clinical signs. Researchers have also studied glutathione to conclude its effect on nerve and its power as an antioxidant. The suitable long-term dosing, side-effects and the majority effective method of administration are not yet clear. Nutritional supplements have shown some capable results in preliminary studies, it is important to remember that there is not adequate scientific data to recommend them for Parkinson's disease at present. The patients should be cautioned that over-the counter medications do have side effects and interactions with other drugs and are also exclusive.[27]


4) Obesity:

Obesity is a composite condition, with serious social and psychological dimensions, affecting almost all ages and socioeconomic groups. The worldwide subsistence of obesity nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008. According to country estimates for 2008, over 50% of both men and women in the WHO European Region were overweight, and roughly 23% of women and 20% of men were obese.Given the worldwide increase in obesity and its health consequences, efficient strategies for its prevention and treatment are important. It has been recommended thatweight reduction programs focus on achieving a modest weight loss of 7–10% of the initial weight Obesity arises from an energy imbalance whereby energy intake exceeds energy expenses. Dealing with obesity — by either prevention or treatment — requires alteration of one or both mechanism of energy balance. Approaches to weight management (including a functional food approach) therefore can target multiple aspects of the energy balance systems: food intake, energy expenditure, and energy  storage.


Nutraceuticals have been emerged as an substitute to current medicines and have proven health benefits. [28]



Nutraceuticals have been emerged as an different to modern medicines and have proven health benefits. Most dietary supplements are derived from plants and some from animals. Nutraceuticals has disease avoidance ability with good nutritional value and food ingredients with supplementary health benefits. They are extensively conventional by all age groups due to their higher quality, purity, safety and efficacy, promoting health and help to heal diseases. The most recent trend is moved towards nutragenomics and nutraceuticals has led to new era of medicine and health.



Author are thankful to Gourishankar college of D pharma, Limb Satara for providing valuable help and authors are also Thankful Mr. Raje V.N, Principal, Gourishankar college of D pharma, Limb, Satara for providing necessary guidance for this work.



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Received on 31.08.2018       Accepted on 05.10.2018     

© Asian Pharma Press All Right Reserved

Asian J. Pharm. Res. 2018; 8(4): 236-240.

DOI: 10.5958/2231-5691.2018.00040.0