Background: Now a day people are more concerned about the nutrition and their health status. Form the last two decades a lot of progress has been seen to isolate substance of high nutrition and medicinal values from the daily consumable items. It is proved that these dietary supplements derived from plants and animals have benefits to the body or may supply the body with essential fatty acids, proteins or other nutrients which are helpful in improving body function. The especial food entities with such benefits are termed as nutraceuticals.
Objective: This study aims to evaluate the use of nutraceuticals among the inhabitant of Penang, Malaysia. Furthermore, this study also aims to understand the population need for the nutraceutical use and difference in nutraceutical use among the inhabitants.
Method: A cross sectional study conducted among the inhabitants of Penang using a structured twenty three item questionnaire. A non-probability sampling method was used to approach the potential participants. Chi Square test was used to test the difference between proportions. However, in the case where 2x2 tables have expected cell count less than five among 25% of the cells then Fischer exact test was preferred over Chi Square.
Results: A total of seven hundred respondents were approached for their participation in this study. Of whom four hundred showed their willingness to participate in the study with a response rate of 57.1%. Majority 218 (54.5%) of the respondents were female. Findings demonstrated that 267(66.8%) of the respondents were familiar with the use of nutraceuticals and 282 (70.5%) have used or using nutraceuticals. Most of the respondents 294 (73.6%) believe that nutraceuticals are safe to use. While evaluating respondents perceptions toward the use of nutraceutical, the use of nutraceuticals to cure the medical complications was found statistically significant (x2= 21.196, df=3, p= 0.000). In addition to this other disclosed the nutraceutical use to improve the body function [i.e overall organs performance], to improve the mental performance and to reduce weight.
Conclusion: Malaysian population was found familiar with the nutraceuticals and nearly all participants of this study have reported their use. The use of nutraceuticals was higher among Chinese women in comparison to other ethnic groups’ i.e Malay and Indians. In general it was found that majority believe that nutraceuticals are safe to use, for general well being. Women were more likely to use nutraceuticals for sliming purpose, while men reported to improve the body function.