What is the difference between Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Grade supplements?

Understanding Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Grades

Understanding the regulatory standards for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products can be complicated. To help sort through the requirements, this article will explain the differences between pharmaceutical and nutraceutical grades.

When a substance is labeled "pharmaceutical grade," it means that it meets the quality standards set for a product to be used as a medicine. This entails rigorous manufacturing, testing, and quality control processes to ensure the purity, consistency, and safety of the product.

In many jurisdictions, pharmaceuticals must meet strict guidelines set by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This often includes ensuring that the product contains 99% purity of the stated active ingredient, with no more than 1% of unspecified impurities.

Nutraceutical Grade

"Nutraceutical" is a term that combines "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical." Nutraceuticals can be broadly defined as products derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.

The term "nutraceutical grade" isn't as strictly regulated or standardized as "pharmaceutical grade." Depending on the jurisdiction, nutraceuticals may not be held to the same rigorous standards as pharmaceuticals. They might have a wider range of acceptable impurity levels or fewer requirements for consistency.


Not all substances intended for human consumption are regulated equally. "Pharmaceutical grade" is a quality standard that infers a rigorous process to ensure purity and safety. By contrast, "nutraceutical grade" is not as strictly regulated and requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction. It's important to be familiar with the distinctions between these two terms when selecting products for medicinal or nutritional reasons.