We have been fortunate to be living in the world of constant technological advances which is making our lives easier and comfortable. With these advances, we have been able to conquer almost all our physical stresses. As a consequence, we are now becoming more and more sedentary with less of physical activities.
Faulty food habits in the affluent class have given rise to a different kind of malnutrition. This is paradoxical to the popular belief that malnutrition can be caused only in the lower socio-economic class. Even in people who supposedly eating ‘good’ and ample food are also becoming victim to the micronutrient deficiency. This is majorly due to calorie dense and nutritionally poor quality food habits. The pandemic has given an alarming sign to those who were ignorant about their lifestyle and food habits and raised a positive vibe to focus on the preventive approach.
This has opened up new avenues for companies who were striving hard to impregnate the importance of a healthier lifestyle and proper nutrition for years. A lot of existing companies and newer start-ups are coming up with innovative solutions to meet your daily nutritional requirements through dietary supplements, fortified foods, nutraceuticals and functional foods. It thus becomes imperative to know the basics of these terms and get proper knowledge about understanding our nutritional needs and how to choose the best supplement that will suit our basic needs.
Nutraceuticals are specially processed to satisfy particular dietary requirements and are safe, natural and supports overall health. A general disbelief about allopathic medicines, lack of proper medical aid and food fads make nutraceuticals extremely popular. Due to its versatility, they are used in numerous industries such as pharmaceutical food & beverages, animal feed additives and personal healthcare. Health responsiveness and increased public understanding have contributed to the shift in consumerism towards nutraceuticals. Today, nutraceuticals are set to become a widely accepted phenomenon and necessity, and a common part of Indian households.
But before we go deeper, let’s first clear the general confusion of what is a nutraceutical and skim through the differences of Nutraceutical vis-a-viz Dietary supplements, which we tend to hear so much about in our daily lives. While most people are aware that what they eat affects their vitality and lifespan, many have no idea about the subtle differences between a nutraceutical and a dietary supplement.
What does the term ‘Nutraceuticals’ really mean?
Nutraceuticals are any whole food, not an isolated nutrient or vitamin that is concentrated and repackaged in a non-food format to augment health. Nutraceuticals, unlike drugs, are usually natural substances and are not substances synthesized for a certain purpose. Nutraceuticals are also called functional foods, which are nothing but food products to be taken along with your usual diet in order to have beneficial effects that go beyond basic nutritional function. For example: puffed rice cereal fortified with vitamins and minerals, baby formula for childhood nutrition, gluten-free bread for people with dietary restrictions, and energy drinks.
What is a Dietary Supplement?
A dietary supplement is a product that is intended to supplement the diet, which contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients—a vitamin, a mineral, an herb, an amino acid, a dietary substance to supplement the diet. It is not represented for use as a conventional food or as the sole item of a diet or a meal.
The Indian nutraceutical market
The Indian market held only 2% market share of the global nutraceutical market in 2017. Its estimated valuation stands at around $5 billion as of 2019 and it is expected to reach $11 billion by 2023, increasing at a CAGR of 21%. Furthermore, India is expected to hold at least 3.5% market share of the global nutraceutical market by 2023.
The manufacturers and marketers of Nutraceutical are taking up the responsibility of educating the consumers by sharing detailed information about the product and its benefits, while also bringing about a transparency and an enhanced credibility among the consumers. Furthermore, industry players are also undertaking a number of initiatives on their own such as, product innovation, enhanced transparency, improved quality standards, and competitive pricing.
Towards a brighter future
Comprehending the correlation between health and nutrition gave an impetus to the notion of nutraceuticals as a viable and reliable approach for better health. The popular adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’ is now well etched into the minds of consumers. With that in mind, nutraceuticals are now looked upon as important supplements that are on the priority list of monthly expenses, which, like food, just cannot be skipped.