Nutraceutical is a combination of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”. It is a food or food product that reportedly provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Health Canada defines the term as “a product isolated or purified from foods that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food. A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease.”Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered foods, herbal products, and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages. The definition of nutraceutical that appears in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as follows: A food stuff (as a fortified food or a dietary supplement) that provides health benefits.
Nutraceuticals is a broad umbrella term used to describe any product derived from food sources that provides extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Products typically claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, and increase life expectancy.
In Canada all nutraceutical products must be licensed and issued a Natural Product Number (NPN). Products that are licensed have been shown to be safe (minimum of two clinical trials with humans) and effective (minimum of two clinical trials). Some companies market nutraceutical products that are not approved by Health Canada and often do not have the recommended concentration of active compound. Products that do not have a Health Canada NPN should not be purchased.