For centuries in countries like China, India and Egypt, people have used food as medicine. Some modern examples of medicinal foods are oranges for prevention of scurvy, and omega-3 fatty acids for lowering triglycerides and risk of heart disease. Calcium, found in fruit, seafood and leafy greens, supports the bones and slows the progress of osteoporosis.
In 1989, a name was finally assigned to these natural, food-based “medicines.” Dr. Stephen DeFelice of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine married the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” to coin the term “nutraceutical.” The foundation defines nutraceutical as “any substance that may be considered food or part of a food and provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.”
Nutritional supplements containing beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and so forth are considered nutraceuticals. Supplements are sold in the form of capsules, tablets, beverages, powders and herbal extracts. Sales in the U.S. are expected to top $250 billion by 2018.
At Doctors Supplement Store, we can manage your medical practice’s sale of supplements and other products. This allows doctors and other medical staff to spend more time working with patients. To learn how we can help your practice, contact Doctors Supplement Store today.
When buying supplements, you should research the products, ask good questions and usually expect to pay more for top quality. Due to lack of regulation, supplements may have inconsistent concentrations of the active ingredient. Manufacturers aren’t even required to list cornstarch, lactose and other allergens in amounts less than 10 percent. Good nutraceuticals should be whole-food based, without chemicals, dyes, binders or fillers.
Where was the base food grown? How was it harvested? Were pesticides used? More and more, environmentally-conscious consumers are asking about bioavailability: Were whole crops depleted in making this product? Also, supplement makers shouldn’t share facilities with other food processing companies; purity can easily be compromised, placing allergic consumers at risk.
Even though they’re not regulated by the FDA, non-prescription products may be tested by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, which grades and evaluates purity according to strict guidelines. To be considered pharmaceutical grade, supplements must contain more than 99 percent of their active ingredient, without binders, chemicals, dyes or sugars. The USP also tests for dissolution and absorption, and results are verified by an outside party. While no prescription is required, pharmaceutical grade products are typically sold only by healthcare professionals. Avoid buying from chain health food or vitamin stores; quality is significantly poorer.