Background: The modern way of life involves high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, obesity and other detrimental health factors. Nutritional supplements (NS) are complexes of nutrients with variant activity that may infer reversal to nutrient depletion. They tend to be popular amongst social categories associated with the healthy life style, such as the elite and amateur athletes, military people and the general population.
Objective: An overview of the state of play with regard to nutritional supplements - natural and synthetic-, is important both from toxicological and commercial point of view.
Method: From a thorough literature review on nutritional supplements, several patents of application have been identified and herewith reviewed which recommend natural vegetable extracts as food supplements for prophylaxis, therapy, protection of immune system, diabetes, oxidative stress, cancer, chronic inflammations and other health conditions. Besides, nutritional supplements of pharmacological validity and high popularity are discussed relative to their contents and group of use.
Results: Cases of adulteration or unintentional contamination of commercial products with abusing substances (doping substances, narcotics etc.) or toxic compounds (heavy metals, plant toxics) have shed light to the problem of causing recalls of some products by the FDA.
Conclusion: From the safety/ quality point of view, NS lack of harmonisation and sovereign laws/ institutional controls on the market and their wide commercialization may possibly lead to risks to public health.