What are neutraceuticals? Do they differ from dietary or nutritional supplements?
The word nutraceuticals was devised to symbolize the combination of nutrition and pharmaceuticals. They are typically nutritional products that provide health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. In contrast to pharmaceuticals however, these are not synthetic substances or chemical compounds formulated for specific indications. In some jurisdictions (such as Canada), nutraceuticals can either be marketed as a food or a drug. So, the category overlaps with that of nutritional supplements but lays claim to additional scientific rigor.
Is it necessary to check with a health professional before using food supplements?
Food supplements may not be risk free under all circumstances. Some food supplements can interact with over-the-counter or prescription medications or have unwanted effects during surgery, while others may contain active ingredients that can cause adverse reactions in some people. We encourage people to contact their doctor prior to taking a food supplement.
Can food supplements be harmful?
Many food supplements contain active ingredients which may have strong effects in the human body, so all companies which manufacture and sell supplements should note that before anyone uses a supplement they should advice their doctor first, especially when taken in combination with other substances.
Are food supplement manufacturers obliged to prove that their food supplements are effective?
No, they don’t. Unlike Prescription Medication (RX), which undergoes extensive clinical trials for approval, manufacturers of supplements are not mandated to prove their efficacy. In this sense, food supplements are treated like foodstuffs. In the case of Prescription Medication (RX), there is verification by the government authorities such as FDA in the US and AMA in Europe.
In the case of food supplements, they are generally considered safe and effective until proven otherwise. Hence the requirement for a disclaimer when a manufacturer makes a health related claim: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."
This is why it is so important for the food supplement manufacturer to have extensive experience in appropriate manufacturing and quality control processes, underpinning trust in the brand. This is why we feel that Agetis has a competitive advantage vis-à-vis other food supplement manufacturers who come from outside the pharma industry.
Can food supplements replace drugs?
Food supplements are exactly that: supplements. So they are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure diseases. They are to be used additionally, not as a replacement of prescribed medication.
What is a dietary or nutritional supplement?
According to the US Federal Drug Administration, a dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a "dietary ingredient" to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A "dietary ingredient" may be one, or any combination, of the following substances:
An herb or other botanical
An amino acid
A dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake
A concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract
Some dietary supplements are intended to help provide adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients, while others may help reduce the risk of disease.
What is the scientific evidence that food supplements work?
There is considerable scientific evidence that food supplements are beneficial in a variety of ways. However, it is difficult to generalize as there is a vast array of supplements. The case for some is compelling, for others it may not be so.
While a good diet is the foundation for better health, research shows that most adults and children don't eat the way they should. Food supplements are easy to add to the daily diet, and this is often the first step that people take toward greater nutritional awareness and the adoption of other healthy lifestyle choices. Whether taking a multivitamin, herb or specialty product, people can and do live healthier lives by supplementing their diets. The right food supplement can be particularly beneficial for example for pregnant women, vegetarians, the elderly etc.