Hyderabad: Nutraceuticals were neither foods nor medicines but were found to prevent or treat chronic diseases though there was no proper clinical trial or data to back this theory.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology said it was very important to evaluate the safety of nutraceuticals and also the mechanism of action on the body before prescribing them.
Researchers felt these products provided medical or health benefits which were beyond the diet but before drugs. Hence, their impact on the body had to be studied thoroughly.
In India, herbal nutraceuticals were prescribed as preventives and also to treat acute and chronic diseases. They were being promoted for optimal health, longevity and also quality of life.
Senior dietician Dr Zeenath Fatima explained, “Evidence based approach for nutraceuticals is important to allow for evaluation of these products. The process involves utilising current evidence to provide individualised care for patients.
According to FSSAI, nutraceutical is regarded as the bio active substance and the constituents are either known for therapeutic activity or are chemically defined substances which act as drugs. The approach of herbal nutraceutials is much more critical and complex as there are a combination of herbs which are finely powdered and those milligrams of powders are found to penetrate into the deepest parts of the body.”
There was an agreed notion or conception that nutraceuticals helped in prevention and treatment of diseases.
The study found that there was a need to evaluate nutraceuticals as their safety and efficacy had to be studied clinically and once proven there must be standardised regulations for their use. There was also demand for having them classified as different from food supplements and medicines.
Senior clinical nutritionist Dr Aditi N.B explained, “The mindset of the consumer is that nutraceuticals are for health benefits. Hence they take it as a supplement without evaluating with a nutritionist whether they really require it. We find misuse in terms of protein supplementation. Often people who are already having enough protein intake in foods are loading themselves with extra protein.
Similarly, there is demand for calcium, vitamin D and fat burning products.”
With largescale use there was demand for a separate board to regulate nutracteuticals where the prescription, dispensation and also its adverse effects were recorded and noted. There was need for a regulatory body just like for drugs so that misuse could be curtailed.