Have you wanted to try digestive enzymes, but felt clueless about how to understand potency? Enzymes are an amazing digestive aid that has been proven to help digest nutrients, alleviate gas, combat post workout fatigue, and much more. Our bodies naturally produce over 75,000 enzymes, and enzyme deficiency can affect our health in subtle ways. This is why it is beneficial to supplement your diet with high-quality, potent enzymes. If you want to learn more about what an enzyme is, check out this article . If you know what enzymes are but you are not sure how to determine enzyme potency, keep reading.
When reading an enzyme supplement label , you may have noticed that it is not like a standard food label. This is because enzyme potency is not measured in weight, and enzymes do not provide nutrients in the form of calories or vitamins like foods do. Enzymes are instead measured by activity units.
An enzyme's activity unit represents the ability of one unit of an enzyme to change a substrate (a substance an enzyme is able to act on) in a defined amount of time at a specific temperature and pH level.
When looking at a supplement label, you will notice that each enzyme has its own unit. These standardized units are determined by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) in the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). The FCC is a collection of internationally recognized standards for the purity and identity of food ingredients. Quality enzymes should list each enzyme’s FCC abbreviation and the number of units, not a weight (such as mg). This is important to note, because enzyme supplements may have identical potencies but different weights, if common fillers are used.
Interpreting Activity Units
There are thousands of enzymes, each with their own activity unit. Even different enzyme sources – such as animal-based, plant-based or fungal-based – will have different enzyme units. Here are a few examples of FCC activity units for different enzymes.
- Amylase units: DU
- Fungal Protease units: HUT or SAPU
- Bacterial Protease: PC
- Glucoamylase units: AGU
- Alpha-galactosidase units: GaIU
If you have used Enzymedica’s Digest Gold™ you will recognize that our supplements use the standardized FCC activity units listed in these examples.
Summing Up Enzyme Potency
Enzymes may have labels that look similar to nutrition labels, but they are unique. The potency of digestive enzymes is expressed through a standardized activity unit that is unique for each digestive enzyme. Although each activity unit is unique, they all measure a standardized rate of change that each enzyme is able to achieve under controlled environmental conditions. The number listed on the supplement label represents the number of units of each enzyme available in each capsule. So, when comparing enzyme potency, make sure you check for FCC abbreviations and the number of units, not weight.
Hopefully this information has helped you better understand how enzyme potency is quantified, so you can purchase high-quality enzymes like a pro.