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Curcumin is a bioactive constituent isolated from turmeric that has historically been used as a seasoning, pigment, and herbal medicine in food. Recently, it has become one of the most commonly studied nutraceuticals in the pharmaceutical, supplement, and food areas because of its myriad of potential health benefits. For instance, it is claimed to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiparasite, and anticancer activities when ingested as a drug, supplement, or food. Toxicity studies suggest that it is safe to consume, even at relatively high levels. Its broad-spectrum biological activities and low toxicity have meant that it has been widely explored as a nutraceutical ingredient for application in functional foods. However, there are several hurdles that formulators must overcome when incorporating curcumin into commercial products, such as its low water solubility (especially under acidic and neutral conditions), chemical instability (especially under neutral and alkaline conditions), rapid metabolism by enzymes in the human body, and limited bioavailability. As a result, only a small fraction of ingested curcumin is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. These hurdles can be at least partially overcome by using encapsulation technologies, which involve trapping the curcumin within small particles. Some of the most commonly used edible microparticles or nanoparticles utilized for this purpose are micelles, liposomes, emulsions, solid lipid particles, and biopolymer particles. Each of these encapsulation technologies has its own benefits and limitations for particular product applications and it is important to select the most appropriate one.
Nutraceuticals in Nanomedicine Applications
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Zheng, Bingjing and McClements, David Julian, "Formulation of More Efficacious Curcumin Delivery Systems Using Colloid Science: Enhanced Solubility, Stability, and Bioavailability" (2020). Molecules. 42.