Nutraceuticals Has Evolved From Traditional Background To Scientific Field: Veera Health CEO
Shashwata Narain, CEO and Co-founder of Veera Health in conversation with BW Wellbeing said that nutraceuticals is backed by evidence and researches
The nutraceutical industry's growth rate accelerated in the year 2020, rising from a predictable trend of 10 per cent to over 26 per cent during the covid-19 pandemic, finally stabilising since late 2021 at 16-18 per cent, far exceeding the global trend of the industry.
This market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15 per cent from 2023 to 2028. Driven by the prospect of the Indian market, many global nutraceutical companies are focusing on the country. BW Wellbeing had a conversation with Shashwata Narain, CEO and Co-founder of Veera Health, a digital therapeutics platform for managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Veera Health has recently forayed into the nutraceutical market, hence, Narain said that today nutraceuticals have evolved from their traditional background to a highly scientific field. Edited excerpts;
What role do nutraceuticals play in the healthcare industry?
Modern lifestyle is fast-paced and demanding. With people juggling multiple responsibilities, work, and personal commitments - there is a need for products that can help support the lifestyle with the necessary nutrients to keep you fit and healthy. The idea of food being used as medicine has long been practised and recognised as the most effective treatment. Today, nutraceuticals, which are derived from natural sources, have evolved from their traditional background to a highly scientific field which is backed by evidence and new research.
Nutraceuticals partially combine the function of a pharmaceutical, yet are widely available as an over-the-counter product. They help meet the gaps of a poor lifestyle that can reflect chronic diseases in the long run. Although they are not devised to treat or cure any condition, they are effective in maintaining good health, improving health outcomes, and providing nutrients in a deficient diet.
What things are shaping the nutraceuticals market?
A growing trend in the nutraceutical industry in India is the shift towards products that cater to women's health needs. In the past, there was a larger emphasis on nutraceuticals that solely focused on beauty and reproductive health. As women recognise the importance of taking care of their health, the trend has shifted towards products that cater to improving overall health. As a result, women are being more proactive about their wellness and not waiting until they get severely sick. This also gives a lot of exciting opportunities for the nutraceutical market to invest in research and development to create new, efficacious formulations.
Also, as the market widens, there is a need to sub-categorise the functions of these nutraceuticals for different needs. Already the market has seen growing trends such as nutraceuticals for building muscle, improving sleep, enhancing gut health, and ingredients that are vegan and non-GMO, among others.
The nutraceuticals market is growing in India, why do you think its demand is soaring?
The pandemic exposed a lot of gaps in healthcare access and delivery, especially as it relates to women’s health. The combination of poor lifestyle, increased levels of stress, and lack of access to expert care have caused a shift in people’s mindset toward making healthier choices proactively for themselves. Nutrition is a big part of treating many chronic health conditions such as PCOS, diabetes, and heart disease, and also in maintaining good long-term health.
However, due to certain lifestyle pressures, many people do have nutritional deficiencies that sometimes food alone cannot help meet. As people become more aware and conscious of their health, they sought after additional sources of nutrients that go beyond food. The benefit of nutraceuticals is the ability to combine many essential nutrients in the required daily dosage in a single pill. So it is no surprise that people want to invest in their health with not just a good lifestyle but also complementary therapies like supplements which can improve their quality of life.
How do nutraceuticals help lifestyle diseases?
Nutritional deficiencies are very common in the Indian population, particularly women. So, it’s no wonder that women with chronic health conditions, such as PCOS, have vitamin D, B12, iron, zinc, and magnesium deficiencies. Although you can meet some of the gaps with a healthy lifestyle, sometimes food alone cannot help cover these deficiencies. Taking nutraceuticals or natural supplements is a great addition to managing lifestyle diseases since a lot of these deficiencies can worsen existing conditions and also increase your risk of developing other lifestyle disorders.
Having said that, nutraceuticals are never a replacement for a healthy diet; they are only there to supplement it. With our patients at Veera Health, we have already observed powerful results with our Myo-inositol-based supplement, VeeVital PCOS support. This supplement helps improve PCOS symptoms and is the most effective when combined with a personalised treatment plan that includes nutrition therapy, exercise plans, and doctor consultations, which we offer at Veera.
As an online clinic, how is Veera Health working with the nutraceuticals aspect?
In our aim to become a full-stack women’s health company, we believe having an offline, product presence is also very crucial. Nutraceuticals, complemented by our science-backed lifestyle and medication therapy, provide the comprehensive support a woman needs in her health journey.
At Veera Health, we heavily leverage technology as an enabler of our services. When we launched VeeVital PCOS support, our newest Myo-inositol-based supplement, we wanted every woman to have access to reliable supplements that can be easily bought online.
We are 100 per cent transparent about our ingredient list and our formulation is developed by top doctors and clinical experts who specialise in managing PCOS.
As per you, what things are still lacking in this industry?
There are a dizzying number of nutraceutical products in the market for various conditions, so as a consumer it can be overwhelming to choose a product that will work for you. What is lacking in the nutraceutical industry is the use of ingredients that are scientifically proven and have clinical studies to back the data. Many of the products you see in the market make tall claims to treat or cure a condition - this is misleading and not true. Being fully transparent about your product, the ingredients, and the research is done around it can help consumers make an informed decision. As helpful as nutraceuticals are in improving your health, not everyone needs them.
Do you think nutraceuticals can be an alternative to pharmaceuticals?
There should be no shame or stigma attached to taking medications when needed. Nutraceuticals are of course an accessible and safe option for managing chronic health conditions and are an excellent complementary therapy. Pharmaceuticals on the other hand, usually need prescriptions and are meant to target a specific disease or symptoms. They are not a replacement for each other and both can have a place in your health. Your doctor can recommend whether your treatment plan can benefit from a nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, or both.
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