How to Measure the Potency of Food Enzymes


Enzymes are proteins that cause changes within the body. Essentially, this amounts to breaking down food. Some people with digestive problems may benefit from enzyme supplements. To pick the best enzyme, however, one must understand how to read an enzyme's potency.

Step 1

Understand how enzymes work. Enzymes are not like other supplements; their potency is not measured in daily values or percentages. Instead, according to "Functional Ingredients" magazine, enzyme potency is measured by its effect on breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. According to the Enzyme University website, there are also enzymes that break down dairy. Most bottled enzymes are actually a blend of multiple enzymes.

Step 2

Look at the enzyme's package or website information. It is necessary to have access to the informational label in order to read the potency.

Step 3

Determine the enzyme's potency. When you look at an enzyme label, there is a list of the various enzymes that comprise the formula; for example, invertase, which breaks down sugar, and amylase, which breaks down starches, may be listed. Beside the enzyme name will be a combination of letters and numbers, for example, "amylase 20000DU." The 20000 is the potency; the letters are the active unit of measurement. If an enzyme has "Thera blend" beside it, this indicates it is made up of even more enzymes. Because enzymes are not all the same, they cannot be measured the same way. For example, lactase will always be paired with ALU (acid lactase unit), and cellulase will always be paired with CU (cellulase unit). The potency refers to how much the enzyme can break down. Therefore, the higher the number, the more potent the enzyme is.

Things You'll Need

  • Enzymes
  • Bottle or package of enzyme
  • Enzyme reference materials


  • Functional Ingredients: Enzyme Potency Can Cause Confusion
  • Enzyme University
  • Better Nutrition: Top 10 Digestive Enzymes

Who Can Help

  • Enzyme Stuff
Keywords: measure enzymes, enzyme, enzyme potency

About this Author

Mimi Honeycutt has written for the Houston Chronicle, Houston Family Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, The Red Pub, The Daily Trojan, and The San Francisco Foghorn. She has professionally written for three years. Currently, Mimi studies at the University of Southern California as a journalism major.

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