Q: What are Soybeans?

Soybeans are a legume and are produced by the soy plant. Soybeans are available shelled or in pods, both fresh and frozen and sometimes in dried and roasted forms in most grocery stores. These beans are also used to create other soy products, such as soymilk, tofu and tempeh.

Q: What is Soy germ?

Soy germ is the part of the soybean, about 2 percent of the bean weight, from which root growth starts when the bean is planted. Soy germ has a higher concentration of the isoflavones daidzein and glycitein as compared to other parts of the soybean.

Q: What are Soy isoflavones?

Isoflavones are plant-based compounds present in very small amounts in many foods, but found most abundantly in soybeans.

Isoflavones are thought to have antioxidant properties with the potential to positively affect health. Soy isoflavones are sometimes used as a supplement for the management of menopausal symptoms.

The three main isoflavones naturally occurring in soybeans are genistein, daidzein and glycitein.

Q: What is Equol?

Equol (4',7-isoflavandiol) is a metabolite of soy isoflavone daidzein. It is naturally produced in the intestinal tract of some, but not all, people following ingestion of soy-based products. Equol is a compound that can exist in two forms, known as the diastereoisomers S-equol and R-equol, which means the compounds mirror each other, just as a person's left hand mirrors the right. S-Equol [7-hydroxy-3-(49-hydroxyphenyl)-chroman] is the metabolite of daidzein, but R-equol is not made in humans, but can be chemically synthesized, such as in the laboratory. The molecular and physical structure of S-equol is similar to that of estradiol, the naturally occurring main sex hormone found in women. Recent research has indicated that S-equol is one of the active compounds responsible for some of the physiological activity of soy isoflavones.

Q: What is S-equol?

S-equol is produced by intestinal bacteria in some, but not in all, humans after soy consumption. The ability of S-equol to play a role in the treatment of estrogen or androgen-mediated diseases or disorders was first proposed in 1984. Although still under investigation, the ability to produce S-equol may be associated with other health benefits. Studies in both animal models and humans have yielded data about the potential of S-equol use in menopause. Supplements containing S-equol are under development, and testing in humans is ongoing for the management of menopausal symptoms, including the reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes as well as neck and shoulder stiffness.

Q: How Is S-equol made for supplement use?

Via a patented and proprietary fermentation process, bacteria of the strain Lactococcus 20-92 are used to metabolize the soy isoflavone daidzein and convert it to S-equol, without producing R-equol. Following fermentation, the resulting powder, containing a standardized amount of S-equol, undergoes a sterilization process using heat that deactivates the bacteria. The process is designed to produce a product rich with a standardized concentration of S-equol that may be used as a nutraceutical ingredient in supplements. This standardized product is called SE5-OH. SE5-OH has self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), status which has been documented and reviewed by a panel of external experts. SE5-OH and the S-equol-containing supplements are created under current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Q: What is Lactococcus 20-92?

Lactococcus 20-92 is a strain of the lactic acid bacterium, Lactococcus, discovered July 1, 2002. S-equol is a key compound obtained through fermentation of soy germ by Lactococcus 20-92.

Q: How does Lactococcus differ from acidophilus?

Lactococcus is a genus of gram-positive bacteria. Both 20-92 and acidophilus are bacterial species within the Lactobacillus genus. Acidophilus is familiar to many consumers because it is used in probiotic foods such as yogurt.

Q: Is S-equol a soy isoflavone?

No. Soy has three isoflavones: daidzein, genistein and glycitein. S-equol is a metabolite of daidzein and thus, is characterized as an isoflavan. S-equol is not directly derived from a plant.