Time to recognize the role of nutraceuticals in our overall well being

Keeping in line with the adage “Prevention is better than cure” nutraceuticals play a prominent role in preventive healthcare

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The best source of nutrition for the body comes from traditional foods such as fruits and vegetables made at home with great care and love. But over the past few decades, changes in the method of growing crops by using harmful chemicals and pesticides, artificial ripening of fruits and vegetables have depleted the nutritional values in our regular foods. Our body needs the daily dose of nutrition in the form of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients for it to sustain. While the result of a scarce supply of the required daily dose of nutrients to the body may not be seen immediately, it ultimately will manifest itself in the form of various ailments in the long run. The lack of nutrition coupled with lifestyle changes, improper eating habits, stress, pollution, shorter sleep cycles and the unhealthy foods that we consume today has led to the advent of many lifestyle disorders, the most common ones being obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments to name a few.

These unwelcome changes have also had a significant bearing on medical expenses going through the roof. Keeping in line with the adage “Prevention is better than cure” nutraceuticals play a prominent role in preventive healthcare. Nutraceuticals are dietary supplements that have a good safety record and may compensate for a poor diet and/or promote health. They can be divided into various categories namely vitamins, minerals, protein supplements, energy drinks, probiotics and growth supplements.

Nutritional care which forms an integral part of preventive healthcare is undergoing a transformation in India. The current generation is looking for preventive healthcare measures rather than remedial reactions. Due to higher disposable incomes and growing awareness about preventive healthcare, the Indian consumer is actively considering various options to improve health and lifestyle.

Globally and in India the nutraceuticals segment has undergone its fair share of churn.  From a one-solution-fits-all scenario, the space has witnessed mushrooming of various products to address specific needs – bone health, calcium supplements, weight management, proteins and immunity boosters according to age, to name a few.

Nutraceuticals can be broadly divided into:

  • Dietary supplements (including vitamins and minerals)

  • Functional foods and beverages (such as energy and sports drinks, probiotics, products fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and herbal formulations)

According to a joint study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in association with its knowledge partner RNCOS, the Indian nutraceutical market is poised to grow from $2.8 billion in 2015 to $8.5 billion by 2022. India which accounted for a share of around 2% of the global market in 2015 is estimated to increase its share of market to 3% by 2022owing to the country’s large population base, increasing urban belt and increasing awareness, according to the study. Functional food & beverages are expected to grow with a higher growth rate due to the increasing visibility of such products in modern retail formats and promotional activities.

Few key drivers for growth of nutraceuticals in India include:

  • Increased awareness– Growing concerns about nutrition and health thanks to digitization and social media has led consumers to look for preventive healthcare measures

  • Affordability – Highhospitalization costs and complex medical procedures which can be avoided are driving consumers towards health supplements and nutraceuticals

  • Increase in lifestyle diseases –Stress factors due to a busy lifestyle which leads to changing dietary patterns has led people to look for alternative food supplements to enhance their health

  • Inferior food quality– The lack of nutritious food has made people to turn to nutritional supplements to meet their dietary requirements and protect against nutritional deficiencies.

  • Healthy appearance: Looking and feeling good is another significant driver for the nutraceuticals space to witness a robust growth. Body weight, hair growth and a glowing skin are top priorities for today’s consumer. Remedial cost far outstrips preventive measures and this is where nutraceuticals come in.

Key challenges faced by nutraceuticals segment in India include

  • Lack of a clear regulatory framework which has been a major challenge to the growth and widespread acceptance of nutraceuticals as a segment in India.

  • Counterfeit products which are unregistered and unapproved has led to scepticism and lack of trust from consumers as well as within the industry trade community

In the past urban India, or more precisely the metros, were the target markets for nutraceutical sales, but consumption patterns have witnessed a shift with a steady increase in demand from Tier II and Tier III cities. This trend will only gather momentum especially because of the large-scale digitization happening in India

To sum up, this is one of the most exciting times to be part of the nutraceutical industry with new players entering the market and rapid innovation happening within the industry.


About Author: Dr Muhammed Majeed, Founder and Chairman, Sami-Sabinsa Group of companies. Dr Majeed is the brain behind Bangalore based Sami Labs that has over the past 30 years, brought to the market more than 120 standardized botanical extracts, and privately funded clinical studies in conjunction with prestigious institutions in support of these products.