CMFRI develops seaweed-based nutraceuticals to boost post-Covid immunity

Posted by: Prof. R.T.Vinodhini

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CMFRI develops seaweed-based nutraceuticals to boost post-Covid immunity

The term “Nutraceutical”  is derived from “ Nutrition”, which is a nourishing food, and “Pharmaceutical”, which is a medical drug. The term is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. It is defined as a material that has physiological benefits or offers protection against chronic diseases. Nutraceuticals can be taken to promote health, slow down the aging process, stop chronic illnesses, lengthen life, or assist the body’s structure and functions.


Nutraceuticals can be grouped, based on their natural sources, pharmacological conditions, and chemical constituents of the products. It is categorized into four groups; dietary supplements, functional food, medicinal food, and pharmaceuticals.


Potential benefits of nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals have a significance in improving well-being, minimising chronic illnesses, postponing aging, and lengthening life spans.These are regarded as beneficial resources for averting serious illnesses like diabetes, kidney, gastrointestinal problems, and various infections.

The knowledge of nutraceuticals and their potential as effective therapeutic supplements has increased significantly throughout the past ten years. Since nutritional medicine is now recognised as a subspecialty of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), it has been added as a new division of CAM.


Seaweeds as a medicine

Seaweeds are considered a nutrient-rich food as they are a good source of minerals, vitamins (A, B1, B2, B9, B12, C, D, E, and K), essential minerals (calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and fluoride), dietary fibers, protein, essential amino acids and polyphenols, which exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The characteristic feature such as low lipid content, and enriched polyunsaturated fat makes it more attractive. The bioactive compounds extracted from seaweeds were employed in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.


Properties of seaweeds

A number of disorders linked to cellular damage caused by free radicals, such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, renal disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and neurodegenerative disorders, can be prevented by consuming dietary compounds like fucoxanthin and phlorotannins, according to epidemiological studies.


Seaweeds are helpful in both preventing and treating infections because of compounds such sulfated polysaccharides (like fucoidan), which have been demonstrated to suppress the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.


Bioactive substances found in seaweeds have the ability to lower inflammation. For instance, it has been demonstrated that fucoidan inhibits the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.


A few seaweed extracts have shown promise as anti-cancer agents. Studies have looked into the ability of fucoxanthin and fucoidan to cause cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis, as well as to stop tumor growth.




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