Nutraceuticals – More Dangerous Than Pharmaceuticals!

One billion biochemical reactions take place every second in a cell coupled with 1000 electric signalling per second influenced substantially by epigenetics. Welcome to the Electro-biochemical robots- Sapiens!

Let’s scale it up to 37 trillion cells…that’s the number of cells we have in our body. Now imagine the complexity of number of biochemical reactions and electric signalling per second!

How does it sound like inducing a high-concentrate, potent biochemical into this complex electro-biochemical complex and expecting a defined outcome? Do we know what the other outcomes this potent biochemical would initiate are? What are the biochemical pathways that will get affected?

What will be long term impact on electro-biochemical impact?

Nutraceuticals are more dangerous than Pharmaceuticals. In pharmaceuticals, we have a reductionist approach to a molecule that has mostly defined pathways with long term impact mapped. It’s backed by a professional who knows when to start, when to stop and when to change.

In nutraceuticals, we have Dr. Google behind us. We decide when to start, we decide the dose, we decide creating cocktails of biochemicals – commonly called as dietary supplements. We expose ourselves chronically to a biochemical concentrate in aspiration of great health outcomes.

Does anyone have long term impacts? When adverse symptoms precipitate, then it is already late as the chronic exposure would have induced an irreversible damage.

Evidence to support the statement:

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that adverse effects of supplements were responsible for an average of about 23,000 emergency department (ED) visits per year. That’s a lot for something that is supposed to be good for you.

In 10-year study, researchers looked at surveillance data from 63 hospital emergency departments to estimate the annual number of ED visits associated with adverse effects from dietary supplements. The authors defined “dietary supplements” as herbal or complementary products, and vitamin or amino acid micronutrients. Patients visiting the ED for symptoms related to supplement use were an average of 32 years old, and women made up more than half of all visits. 

Weight-loss products accounted for one quarter of all single-product ED visits and disproportionately affected women, while men were more likely to experience adverse effects from products advertised for sexual enhancement and body building. Energy-boosting products made up another 10% of these visits.

This is an eye opener study and calls for creation of Nutra-vigilance.

Nutraceuticals need professional intervention, while nutritional at very low dose could be consumer domain. Consumers should be encouraged to look at healthy diets with low dose supplement top up.

Nutraceutical science needs a revisit from what it is now. Current shaping of nutraceuticals is a perfect extrapolation of the book Vitamania by Catherine Price. Are we heading for a new health hazard being incubated by nutraceuticals?

Amit Srivastava- Chief Catalyst – NutrifyIndia