Enzymes standards of measurement

standards of measurement of enzymes

Q:  Who sets the standards of measurements and potency for enzyme products?  Why are there so many different units from enzyme product to product?

A:  The most standard measurements are set by the United States Pharmacopeia, which sets USP measurements.  USP’s standards for food ingredients can be found in its Food Chemicals Codex (FCC). The FCC is a compendium of standards used internationally for the quality and purity of food ingredients like preservatives, flavorings, colorings and nutrients. While the FCC is recognized in law in countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand, it currently does not have broad legal recognition in the United States. USP obtained the FCC from the Institute of Medicine in 2006. The IOM had published the first five editions of the FCC.

Enzymes are best measured not by their weight but by the work they are capable of doing.  This is usually expressed in some form of activity unit as a measure of potency.  Many enzymes can be assayed using methods that are internationally recognized.  Use of these recognized assay procedures ensures that the methodology utilized can be reproduced to verify accuracy and legitimacy of the assay. Most microbial and plant enzymes used in dietary supplements are measured according to Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) assays. When comparing enzyme products, make sure measurements are listed using FCC standard codes. Some manufacturers make up their own abbreviations.  Others use weights such as milligrams (mgs.).  Because of the variety of labeling formats used, it is important to read carefully and make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges.  Here is some helpful, credible information to understand enzyme products better:

Animal Based Pancreatic Enzymes:

Pancreatin 1X provides the following minimal digestive activity:

·         Amylase: no less than 25 USP units/mg

·         Lipase: no less than 2 USP units/mg

·         Protease: no less than 25 USP units/mg

Higher levels of activity are expressed in multiples of these numbers.  For example, 2X provides twice this activity and 4 X provides four times this activity (Werbach)

Plant Based Pancreatic Enzymes:

The following chart provides a very rough estimate* of conversion between several Food Chemical Codex (FCC) measurement units, which is one of the most reliable measurements of plant based enzymes, and other recognized measurement units:


FCC units

USP units

NF units

SKB units


1 DU unit

48 units **

48 units **

1 unit


1 AGU unit



not currently used


1 LU unit

6.3 units **

6.3 units **



1 DP unit



not currently used


1 HUT unit

0.61 PC unit

6.5 units **




1 PU unit is equivalent to 0.067 GDU, 0.1 MCU or 0.08 BTU***

1 MCU is the equivalent to .67 GDU


1 ALU unit is the equivalent of 1 LACU unit


1 FCC IAU is the equivalent of 500 SU


N/A = no units exist for this enzyme

* Because of the subjective or non-standardized nature of some of the methods by which these assays are conducted there is no accurate method of conversion.

** Only to be used when measuring Pancreatic (animal) source enzymes.

*** Since there is no standardization of the test materials for GDU, MCU and BTU, these conversion ratios could vary from test to test and their accuraracy cannot be relied on. MCU methodology is very subjective.

If you have further questions regarding any enzyme products we carry, please let me know!  For more information on great benefits Enzymes and how they work, I invite you to review this website which has some great information on enzymes without trying to sell you a product, it is free to the general public: http://www.enzymeuniversity.com/

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