Food Supplements and Nutraceuticals: what they are and in what they differ
There is an idea, increasingly common, that tends to identify the two terms “Dietary Supplements” and “Nutraceuticals”, as if they were simply two different ways of describing the same product: a supplement to be included in our everyday diet.
Indeed, the use of powders, tablets and syrups, supplemented to our daily diet for the purpose of feeling better or aging better, is increasingly common, but is describing them indifferently as Food Supplements or Nutraceuticals really correct?
To understand this, let’s look at their definition together:
What are dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements are products of natural and/or synthetic origin (vitamins, antioxidants), used as supplementing substances to the normal diet, with the primary purpose of compensating for nutritional deficiencies induced by a poor diet or by the low presence of these substances in the foods we consume.
In fact, nutraceutical is considered a dietary supplement, capable of treating the body and not simply providing it with additional nutrients.
We could define it as a subcategory of dietary supplements, with a facet closer to pharmacology than simply nutrition.
The category of nutraceuticals, is then in turn divided into other subcategories:
- Functional foods, which include whole and functionalised foods as well as enriched or enhanced dietary components that can, when taken consistently with the normal diet, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and provide a health benefit.
- Medicinal foods, formulated instead to be consumed or administered under the supervision of a medical specialist, employed for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition with specific nutritional requirements.