Nutraceuticals - Uses for Supercritical Fluids

“Let food be thy medicine” ~ Hippocrates

Historically, Chinese and Indian medicines have a rich tradition of using natural products and extracts for promoting healthy living.


Nutraceutical is a term used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. They can be used to promote general well-being, control symptoms and prevent disease processes.

Nutraceuticals and Supercritical CO2 extraction

Many nutraceuticals are presently isolated from natural products by steam distillation or extraction with organic solvents. Steam distillation is carried out at high temperatures and results in the thermal decomposition of many bioactive compounds. Extraction of nutraceuticals with organic solvents like hexane, methanol or methylene chloride can leave toxic solvent residues in the nutraceutical extract.

Compared to traditional extraction methods, natural supercritical CO2 extraction has many benefits and is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). Supercritical CO2 extraction eliminates exposure of the natural product to oxygen during the process and thus reduces oxidation of sensitive bioactive compounds. It also is a low temperature operation that does not promote thermal degradation of sensitive nutraceutical compounds . In addition, when the supercritical CO2 extract is depressurized, there are no toxic residues remaining in the nutraceutical extract.

Supercritical CO2 has been used to extract thousands of nutraceuticals from: nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables, fish oils, microalgae, herbs, spices, roots and fruits.

A few of the supercritical CO2 nutraceutical extracts include: Polyunsaturated fatty acids, squalene, sterols, tocopherols, carotenoids, EPA. DHA, vitamin A, pigments, oleoresins, antioxidants, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, vitamin E, essential oils, astaxanthin and many triglyceride compounds.

Applied Separations have a proven commitment to advancing Supercritical Fluids technology and have worked with companies all over the world to incorporate supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) into their processes. Thanks to their world class R&D team, in-house engineers, and visionary approach, Applied Separations work hard to develop and enhance applications of this green technology in many unexpected industries.

Have an application in mind? Please contact iBiosys Solutions and, together with Applied Separations, we will work with you to develop a supercritical fluid application fit for your needs.