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Nutracêutics: what they are, what they are for and possible side effects

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Nutracêutics: what they are, what they are for and possible side effects
Nutracêutics: what they are, what they are for and possible side effects

The nutraceutical is a type of food supplement that contains in its composition bioactive compounds that were extracted from food and that have benefits for the body, and can even be used as a way to complement the treatment for some disease.

The term nutraceutical is used to name a specific nutrient present in a food, which is not the food itself or a medicine, such as lycopene, which is a bioactive compound that can be found in tomatoes, phytosterols and resveratrol, which are compounds found in grape skins and wine.

Nutraceuticals can be found in he alth food stores and pharmacies in the form of capsules, tablets, sachets, dietary supplements or be formulated in compounding pharmacies, however it is important that their consumption is guided by a doctor or nutritionist, because as it contains high concentrations of the compound compared to the food source, it can have he alth consequences.

What is it for

Nutraceuticals are bioactive compounds that can be used to meet the body's needs, and can be found in a single capsule, a combination of nutraceuticals. Some of the most common nutraceuticals are omega-3, lycopene, resveratrol, phytosterols, probiotics, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Due to the fact that nutraceuticals are compounds that participate in several processes in the body, they have several benefits and can be indicated in several situations, the main ones being:

  • Regulation of cholesterol level and prevention of the development of cardiovascular diseases;
  • Regulation of the amount of blood sugar, helping to control and prevent diabetes;
  • Improving bowel function and promoting gastrointestinal he alth;
  • Improved bone he alth;
  • Regulation of blood pressure;
  • Regulation of thyroid hormones.

Although it may have several indications, it is important that the use of nutraceuticals is done according to the nutritionist's orientation, because the consumption of amounts above the recommended can have consequences for he alth. In addition, it is important that the use of nutraceuticals is accompanied by he althy habits such as physical activity and he althy and balanced diet. Check out the benefits of he althy eating.

What is the difference between nutraceuticals and functional foods?

Although they act on body functions, nutraceuticals are different from functional foods. Functional foods correspond to the food itself, which is already in its proper form for consumption, while nutraceuticals are substances extracted from food and which are presented in the form of pills or capsules, for example.

Furthermore, whole foods and foods that have been enriched or improved with the aim of increasing their benefits for the body are considered functional foods. Learn more about functional foods.

Possible side effects

Nutraceuticals have a higher concentration of compounds than what is found naturally in food and, therefore, consumption without a doctor or nutritionist's recommendation or the use of amounts above recommended can have he alth consequences.

Thus, depending on the nutraceutical consumed, there may be symptoms of intoxication or intolerance to the compound, increased risk of kidney stone formation and impaired function of this organ, increased production of gases, interaction with medications, diarrhea, colic and bloating, for example.

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