Natural Extracts to Nutraceuticals – The New Demands of New Consumers

The Indian pharmaceutical market is one of the most exciting in the world. According to a recent McKinsey report, India will become one of the top 10 pharmaceutical markets in the world by 2015. Healthcare consumption in the country is expected to increase three times riding on prosperity, better healthcare infrastructure, insurance regulations and health awareness. The same report goes on to predict that by 2015, millions more will suffer from chronic, costly to treat diseases such as diabetes, respiratory illnesses and cancer.

The pharmaceutical industry’s contribution to therapeutics, healthcare, well-being, disease prevention and disease cure has been outstanding. The importance of this contribution cannot be highlighted more than by the fact that pharmaceuticals are a 1,043 billion dollar market worldwide. While pharmaceutical companies are spending almost a billion dollars per molecule on the drug discovery process and much more on merger and acquisition transactions to populate their drug pipelines, the number of new molecules being registered has not kept up with growth.

Many conditions that make humans sick are still being treated symptomatically. Often, such diseases and conditions those are chronic in nature like hypertension, arthritis and cardiovascular disease seek solutions in related forms of medicine like Ayurveda, Chinese or herbal medicine. In order to address these issues: the lack of known cause for the disease, absence of cure, maintenance of the disease by treatment and other issues like iatrogenesis or the side effects related to pharmaceutical use; natural extract processing has undergone a transformation with the use of pharmaceutical technology. The important end product of this process is the group of therapeutic substances that we recognize as nutraceuticals.

Nutraceuticals have become a significant part of a pharmaceutical company’s portfolio. A nutraceutical is any substance that as a food or a part of food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of disease.  The use of nutraceuticals, as an attempt to accomplish desirable therapeutic outcomes with reduced side effects as compared with other therapeutic agents has met with great monetary success. While the pharmaceutical industry continues to grow at a healthy 9%, the nutraceuticals industry in India has grown at a CAGR of 18% over the last few years.

Traditional nutraceuticals, whole foods with new information about their potential health qualities like lycopene in tomatoes and non-traditional nutraceutical foods, foods that result from adding ingredients to boost their nutritional value (like fortified foods) are finding traction amongst consumers.

Since nutraceuticals are most often natural whole foods, they do not fall under the regulations that govern pharmaceutical manufacturing. The FDA regulates nutraceuticals as it regulates all foods. In order to meet with consumer expectations of transparency, information and safety as are related to pharmaceutical consumption, the Indian government passed the Food Safety and Standard Act in 2006, to integrate and streamline the many regulations covering nutraceuticals, foods and dietary supplements.

Cosmetics, women’s health, therapeutics, functional foods, nutritional foods and dietary supplements are some of the industries that make regular use of nutraceuticals in their product offerings.

Carotino® is an anti-oxidant rich premium red cooking oil that has natural carotenes. The oilis a combination of canola oil & red palm fruit extract. The premium cooking oil is cholesterol free and rich in natural beta-carotenes, vitamin E, omega-3, 6 essential fatty acids, co-enzyme Q10 and lycopene sans harmful trans-fatty acids. Carotenes and Vitamin E in the oil act as scavengers of damaging free radicals and play a protective role in ageing, atherosclerosis and cancer. Many research papers on the efficacy of red palm oil in increasing serum retinol and beta-carotene levels in children have been published to encourage the use of the oil. The Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) has even certified the food as a ‘Healthier Choice Symbol’,given as a label to foods that meet the nutritional standards set by the Singapore Heart Association.

Carotino® ismanufactured by the J C Chang Group in Malaysia and is marketed all over the world including India.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (DHA), are potent controllers of inflammatory processes, maintain brain function and reduce cholesterol deposition. We can now freely avail of vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acids from microalgae. Food fortified with DHA has now made an appearance on the shelves of daily consumables like breads, cereal and milk. Bread fortified with DHA is already available to Indian consumers and is popular with people following cosmopolitan lifestyles in the larger cities and metros.

Japan and China have been large consumers of green tea. It has become part of tradition and culture of the land, with ceremonies and celebrations built around its preparation. It comes as no surprise that these countries consume green tea in other forms of food as well, be it flavoring of soy bean drinks, health drinks, cold beverages and in medicinal preparations. Japan is the second largest market for nutraceuticals in the world with 47% of its population consuming nutraceuticals.

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world today, second only to water, and its medicinal properties have been widely explored. Green tea extract contains polyphenols (flavones or catechins) comprise, 30-40 percent of the extractable solids of dried green tea leaves. Green tea polyphenols have demonstrated significant antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, thermogenic, probiotic and anti-microbial properties in numerous human, animal and in-vitro studies.

The Indian beverage market has recently seen the launch of green tea and ginseng infused products, both ingredients being traditionally of Oriental origin and acceptance, by a large Indian tea and coffee producer. Other large FMCG companies in India have marketed their products with additives like L-theanine, a naturally occurring amino acid to promote alertness in tea consumers.

Just as much as green tea is a popular additive for skin care and hair care products, soybean extract is used as well. Products with soybean extracts are potent anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects. The presence of a component: genistein has increased the use of soy extract in anti-aging products. Other components present in soy stimulate the collagen production in skin, which in turn increases the elasticity of skin.

Soybean is used in supplements, functional foods and beverages and is a health food because of its low fat content and zero cholesterol. The best way to consume isoflavones is in the form of soy or soy foods. The many health benefits from the consumption of soy products include protection against breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, heart disease and osteoporosis. The chemical structure of isoflavones is similar to that of human estrogen; a chemical property that allows competition with estrogen for the same receptor sites thereby decreasing the health risks of excess estrogen. If during menopause the body’s natural level of estrogen drops, isoflavones can compensate this by binding to the same receptor, thereby easing menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. Functional foods in India that use soy isoflavones are soy flour, energy bars, soy oil and soy drinks. It is estimated that 10% of all US consumers seek out soy products while purchasing foods.

While green tea extracts and soybean extracts may have potent antioxidant properties, grape seed extracts contain the most powerful anti-oxidant free radical scavengers known to man. Grape seed extract is the primary commercial source of a group of powerful antioxidants known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), a class of flavonoids. OPC’s are most effective in neutralizing free oxygen radicals, which contribute to organ degeneration and aging in humans. The primary sources of OPC’s are pine bark extract and grape seed extract. However, the grape seed extract is more widely recommended for its lower cost and because it contains an anti-oxidant not found in pine bark.

Grape seed extract has a wide range of therapeutic uses, from preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease to alleviating symptoms of allergies, ulcers, and cataracts. Procyanidins are thought to increase the effectiveness of other antioxidants, especially Vitamin C and Vitamin E and this has led to nutraceutical products that have combinations of Vitamin C and E along with beta-carotene and are available in capsule form for strengthening skin and reducing environmental damage. Grape seed is available in India as a dietary supplement in capsules, tablets and liquid extracts.

BRANDS® InnerShine® range of health supplements carries Grape Seed extracts based products in its skin care portfolio. BRANDS® is a 168 year old company based in Singapore with strong presence in South East Asia.

Lycopene, Lutein and Natural Beta-Carotene are all carotenoids with potent anti-oxidant properties and are important nutraceutical ingredients that have found many uses in the therapeutics, functional foods and food and beverage industries. Especially in India almost all large FMCG companies in the food and beverage sector have moved from synthetic beta-carotene as food coloring in their drinks to natural beta carotene which is also an anti-oxidant agent. Beta-carotene is also used extensively as a food-coloring agent in biscuits and wafers and in processed milk products like cheese and margarine.

Natural Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A (retinol) by the body. Vitamin A is needed for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucus membranes. While large amounts of Vitamin A in supplement form can be toxic, the body will convert only as much Vitamin A from natural beta-carotene as it needs. That means natural beta-carotene is considered a safe source of vitamin A.

Carotenoids like lutein are the only carotenoids found in both the macula and lens of the human eye, and have dual functions in both tissues – to act as powerful anti-oxidants and to filter high-energy blue light. Lutein as well as lycopene is found in human serum. In the diet lutein is found in highest concentrations in dark green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, and others), corn, and egg yolks. Lycopene as is now well known is found in tomatoes. In addition to playing pivotal roles in ocular health, carotenoids are important nutrients in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, and stroke and lung cancer.

Free radicals cause damage to cells through a process known as oxidation. Over time, this damage can lead to a number of chronic illnesses. There is good evidence that eating more anti-oxidants in the diet helps boost the immune system, protect against free radicals, and may lower risk of two types of chronic illness – heart disease and cancer.

Perhaps the two most exciting developments that will make the nutraceutical industry flourish and become a force in itself are the rise of functional foods and innovative marketing of dietary supplements. Functional foods are gaining consumer approval and enjoying a level of awareness and acceptance than ever before. All consumer products available off the shelf in India, which are produced scientifically and have a health benefit, carry the food label or the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) in line with International Standards. It is a familiar sight with Nutrition Facts on the nutrition content of the food item based on the specific serving size. The impact of nutritional labels may be unclear but it shows that the Indian consumer is now sensitized to quality and health considerations more than ever before.

The large pharmaceutical companies in India are now listing antioxidants and nutraceuticals as combinations with dietary supplements. Recent launches in the market and dietary supplement products that were advertised in the just concluded cricket world cup only prove that nutraceuticals are already a part of the growing Indian domestic market and an important part of the pharmaceutical product offering.

As the McKinsey report predicts, healthcare consumption in Indian households is growing at a CAGR of 9% and we are well on our way to make it in the top three areas of our household expenditure, after food and education.

Additional References

  1. Darti, Gandhi and Shah; International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, December 2010
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1 Response to Natural Extracts to Nutraceuticals – The New Demands of New Consumers

  1. invisionmedi says:

    I go through your website its very good and we are also having similar website you can visit us.

    Pharmaceutical Products Manufacturers in India

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