Bioactive compound

A bioactive compound is a compound that has an effect on a living organism, tissue or cell, usually demonstrated by basic research in vitro or in vivo in the laboratory. While dietary nutrients are essential to life, bioactive compounds have not been proved to be essential – as the body can function without them – or because their actions are obscured by nutrients fulfilling the function.

Bioactive compounds lack sufficient evidence of effect or safety, and consequently they are usually unregulated and may be sold as dietary supplements.[1]

Origin and examplesEdit

Bioactive compounds are commonly derived from plants,[2][unreliable medical source?] animal products, or can be synthetically produced. Examples of plant bioactive compounds are carotenoids, polyphenols, or phytosterols.[3] Examples in animal products are fatty acids found in milk and fish. Other examples are flavonoids, caffeine, choline, coenzyme Q, creatine, dithiolthiones, polysaccharides,[4] phytoestrogens, glucosinolates, and prebiotics.[3]

In the dietEdit

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements proposed a definition of bioactives in the context of human nutrition as "compounds that are constituents in foods and dietary supplements, other than those needed to meet basic human nutritional needs, which are responsible for changes in health status", although a range of other definitions are used.[5] Traditionally, dietary recommendations, such as DRIs used in Canada and the United States, focused on deficiencies causing diseases, and therefore emphasized defined essential nutrients.[6]

Bioactive compounds have not been adequately defined for the extent of their bioactivity in humans, indicating that their role in disease prevention and maintenance remains unknown.[6] Dietary fiber, for example, is a non-essential dietary component without a DRI, yet is commonly recommended for the diet to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.[7][8] Frameworks for developing DRIs for bioactive compounds have to establish an association with health, safety and non-toxicity.[6][9][10][11]

As of 2021, there are no dietary recommendations in North America or Europe for bioactive, except for fiber. Lutein, zeaxanthin, long chain omega-3 fatty acids and flavan-3-ols are examples of compounds that were under discussion in 2017.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lupton JR, Atkinson SA, Chang N, et al. (April 2014). "Exploring the benefits and challenges of establishing a DRI-like process for bioactives". European Journal of Nutrition. 53 (Suppl 1): 1–9. doi:10.1007/s00394-014-0666-3. PMC 3991826. PMID 24566766.
  2. ^ "Phytochemicals". Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2022. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Dietary factors". Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2022. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  4. ^ Srivastava R, Kulshreshtha D (1989). "Bioactive polysaccharides from plants". Phytochemistry. 28 (11): 2877–2883. doi:10.1016/0031-9422(89)80245-6.
  5. ^ Frank J, Fukagawa NK, Bilia AR, et al. (June 2020). "Terms and nomenclature used for plant-derived components in nutrition and related research: efforts toward harmonization". Nutrition Reviews. 78 (6): 451–458. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuz081. PMC 7212822. PMID 31769838.
  6. ^ a b c d Yetley EA, MacFarlane AJ, Greene-Finestone LS, Garza C, Ard JD, Atkinson SA, et al. (January 2017). "Options for basing Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) on chronic disease endpoints: report from a joint US-/Canadian-sponsored working group". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 105 (1): 249S–285S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.139097. PMC 5183726. PMID 27927637.
  7. ^ Trumbo P, Schlicker S, Yates AA, Poos M, et al. (Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies) (November 2002). "Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids". Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 102 (11): 1621–1630. doi:10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90346-9. PMID 12449285.
  8. ^ Great Britain. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015). Carbohydrates and health. Stationery Office. London. ISBN 978-0-11-708284-7. OCLC 936630565.
  9. ^ Ellwood K, Balentine DA, Dwyer JT, Erdman JW, Gaine PC, Kwik-Uribe CL (November 2014). "Considerations on an approach for establishing a framework for bioactive food components". Advances in Nutrition. 5 (6): 693–701. doi:10.3945/an.114.006312. PMC 4224206. PMID 25398732.
  10. ^ Yates AA, Dwyer JT, Erdman JW, King JC, Lyle BJ, Schneeman BO, Weaver CM (July 2021). "Perspective: Framework for Developing Recommended Intakes of Bioactive Dietary Substances". Advances in Nutrition. 12 (4): 1087–1099. doi:10.1093/advances/nmab044. PMC 8321833. PMID 33962461.
  11. ^ Yates AA, Erdman JW, Shao A, Dolan LC, Griffiths JC (March 2017). "Bioactive nutrients - Time for tolerable upper intake levels to address safety". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 84: 94–101. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.01.002. PMID 28110066. S2CID 12640189.