Over 77% of American adults report using nutraceuticals. Globally, the nutraceutical market is projected to be worth more than 350 billion by 2027. This article will address some of the common benefits of nutraceuticals.
What are Nutraceuticals?
Nutraceuticals are broadly grouped into two categories, supplements, functional foods, and beverages. Supplements can either be sourced from a food or synthetic source. They come in many different forms such as capsules, liquids, softgels, gummies and so on. For example, Thai ginger root is extracted and can be included in a capsule. Functional foods are foods that have highly beneficial health qualities to them in addition to nutritional value. Matcha green tea is a functional food with its beneficial compounds like antioxidants and L-Theanine. Let’s now explore the benefits of nutraceuticals.
Support General Health
There are many nutraceutical benefits. Nutraceuticals are intended to generally support health; for example, a multivitamin provides essential nutrients. Other nutraceuticals target specific body systems, like the eyes. A healthy diet rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin has been shown to support not only eye health, but also brain and skin health. Access to nutraceuticals rich in these antioxidants can help improve eye health or compensate for the lack of antioxidants in the diet.
Another good example of a nutraceutical that supports overall health is ginger. Ginger is a potent digestive health ingredient and known to help quell nausea. It also contains antioxidants that may support overall health.
Support a Healthy Weight
Millions of people are facing the challenges of obesity, which carries a steep emotional and physical price tag. On the physical end of the spectrum, obesity increases the risk of developing health conditions such as hypertension, high blood sugar, osteoarthritis and respiratory disorders. Along with a healthful diet and exercise, nutraceuticals may be used to further help support healthy weight management.
A nutraceutical that has the potential for supporting a healthy weight is capsaicinoids, a compound found richly in chili peppers. Capsaicinoids, when taken in the amounts of 2 mg daily, were shown to support appetite control by reducing the sensation of hunger, increasing metabolism, which supports energy production and helps to break down the body’s energy stores (fat), which also increases energy. Finally, and coming as no surprise from chili peppers, capsaicinoids increase the body’s internal heat production, which increases metabolism.
Immune Health Support
There are many nutraceuticals available that have immune-supporting properties. One popular herbal immune booster is the food and herb elderberry. This delicious fruit can be eaten as a functional food (elderberry syrup is excellent on pancakes) or as a dietary supplement. Studies have shown it to have anitmicrobial properties and support respiratory health.
Healthy Blood Sugar Support
Antioxidants in nutraceuticals like garlic, ginger, and ginkgo have shown to inhibit blood sugar levels and help protect the body.
Cinnamon is a functional food, offering its delicious taste and health benefits Cinnamon helps support healthy blood sugar when consumed regularly in 3-6 grams amounts. Cinnamon does this by helping to regulate insulin and blood glucose levels. It also has characteristics that are similar to insulin. Cinnamon, unlike many functional foods, is easy to consume. And it can be found in supplement form, which allows for more ease of delivery and the potential to increase consumption.
Support Healthy Sleep
One of the most popular nutraceuticals for sleep is valerian root. Valerian root has been extensively studied as an effective, safe sleep support ingredient. One of valerian root’s active compounds is valerenic acids, which bind to the GABA receptors and may have a relaxing effect. Valerian root is thought to help mood and support deep, restful sleep. This study found that supplements that used the whole root were the most effective. Choosing a quality supplement can make all of the difference, and valerian root may be even more effective with herbal partners. The herb hops, when combined with valerian root in this study, reported a more excellent quality of life due to sleep improvements after taking the herbal combination.
Support Eye Health
Lutein and zeaxanthin are potent antioxidants, called carotenoids, that play a role in many functions of the body throughout different life stages. Highly bioavailable forms of lutein and zeaxanthin are derived from marigold flowers, where they are extracted and manufactured into nutraceuticals. A study showed that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and, in those that already have the disease, reduces the risk of its progression. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been shown to help support visual function by reducing eye fatigue/strain from exposure to high-energy blue light sources such as digital devices as well as indoor and outdoor light sources.