Thank you very much for directing this question to me. Apologies for
the delay in answering. Non-Google-Answer deadlines required most of
my attention over the past few days.
I have found some information on the different chemical forms of the
four supplements. However, mostly it is the delivery system used that
has the greatest influence on bioavailability and efficacy and I have
included some pertinent information on that topic as well.
Although there are eight possible stereoisomers of biotin, only one of
them, the D+ form is active. When used as a supplement, it is usually
obtained either as a powder or obtained by consuming brewers yeast.
Some mixed supplements use vegetable and other extracts as a source of
the various nutrients, including biotin, and claim this is superior to
using a synthetic product. However, the bioavailability is thought to
vary depending on the way in which the biotin is bound in these
Biotin is a heterocyclic compound, an imidazolidone ring joined to a
ring. The latter possesses a valeric acid side chain. Of eight
stereoisomers only D(+)-biotin occurs in nature and binds to and
activates four carboxylases
found in humans.
Biotin in vegetables, green plants and fruits occurs in
water-extractable forms, whereas it occurs in
firmly bound complexes in yeast and animal products. There are no
reliable data on the
bioavailability of biotin from different foods.
Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on the Tolerable Upper
Intake Level of Biotin
(expressed on 26 September 2001) (European Commission, Brussels)
Solubility: slightly soluble in chloroform; slightly soluble in
salts are quite soluble; sodium salt is highly soluble.
There is considerable uncertainty regarding the factors that affect
the bioavailability of
biotin. Dietary biotin exists in the free form and, more often, in a
form that is covalently
bound to protein.
Most biotin in meat and cereal is protein-bound but that present in
cereal appears to be
All biotin is derived from micro-organisms. It is widely distributed
in natural foodstuffs
but at very low levels. Foods relatively rich in biotin include egg
yolk, liver, kidney,
muscle and organ meats, and some vegetables.
Revised Reviewon Biotin of the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals,
UK Food Standards Agency
The free form of biotin appears to be supplied only as a crystalline
powder or as a spray-dried water-soluble powder.
Commercial synthesis of biotin is based on a method developed by
Goldberg and Sternbach in 1949 and using fumaric acid as starting
material. This technique produces a pure D-biotin which is identical
to the natural product.
Roche supplies D-biotin as a pure
crystalline powder and in a spray-dried form for animal nutrition
Sumitomo Chemical successfully developed the synthesis of biotin in
The feed-grade vitamin is supplied as a 2 % material. Biotin
F2 uses a corn starch carrier and biotin F-W2 is a water soluble,
spray dried product.
There have also been some pilot studies of microbial production of
a. Biotin fermentation (Serratia marcescens) - fermentative
production from glucose by a genetically engineered bacterium
b. multiple enzyme system conversion from diaminopimelic (Bacillus
sphaericus) acid using the biotin biosynthesis enzyme system of a
mutant of B. sphaericus
http://www.wiley-vch.de/books/biotech/pdf/v10_shim.pdf (extract of
book on publishers site)
You may sometimes see references to biotin triturate in multivitamin
All this means is that the biotin has been added in the form of a very
Definition of triturate at
Bioavailability increases with smaller particle size. However, it
appears that biotin is readily absorbed:
Six healthy adults were given biotin in pharmacologic doses, either
2000 or 20,000 µg) or intravenously (4500 µg).
The authors concluded: Our data provide evidence that oral biotin is
completely absorbed even when pharmacologic doses are administered.
Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Mar;69(3):504-8.
Bioavailability of biotin given orally to humans in pharmacologic
Zempleni J, Mock DM.
Free full text at: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/69/3/504
In my searches I have also come across a liquid biotin preparation for
veterinary use, and a biotin gel shampoo and conditioner.
1. DSM products
Natural beta-carotene from Blakeslea trispora
DSM's natural beta-carotene formulations are suited to numerous
applications. This natural beta-carotene is a superior product with
unique benefits over other beta-carotenes currently available.
DSM shows pie charts of the composition of their own product,
CaroCare®/CaroPure®, compared with that of synthetic beta-carotene and
beta-carotene obtained from algae (eg Dunaliella). The DSM product is
94% trans-beta-carotene, 3.5% cis-beta-carotene and 2.5% other
carotenoids. The synthetic product is 98% trans-beta-carotene, 2%
cis-beta-carotene. The algal product is 64% trans-beta-carotene, 31%
cis-beta-carotene, 3.5% alpha-carotene and 1.5% other carotenoids
DSM comments: the beta-carotene molecule appears into the trans- and
cis-isomer. Trans beta-carotene can be transferred into cis
beta-carotene by heating. Natural beta-carotene from Blakeslea
trispora is nearly all-trans. Literature and research has shown that
this all-trans beta-carotene has a maximum conversion rate into
. For the other pro-vitamin A carotenoids (like cis
beta-carotene and alpha-carotene) the conversion rate to vitamin A is
limited and still unknown. Research has shown that it is expected to
be (approximately 50%) off all-trans beta-carotene
. Because of its
purity, Natural beta-carotene from B. trispora is in compliance with
the FCC criteria as referred to in 21 CFR 184.1245. The product meets
both the requirements for the assays specified as well as the criteria
of the minimum content of 96% beta-carotene. This is unique for a
The DSM product is available in various formulations:
Product formulation Application
Vegetarian Beadlets Tablets and
and nutritional applications
Sunflower oil suspension Colourant and
Cold Water Soluble Colourant and
Beadlets: The micro-spherical beadlets are homogenised granulates,
produced without preservatives. They can easily resist high pressures
during tabletting (approximately 10 metric tons per cm2). As a result
the beadlets are extremely stable after tabletting and suffer no
leakage or subsequent loss of beta-carotene. The 7.5% and 15% beadlets
provide respectively 125.000 and 250.000 IU/gr.
Different micro-encapsulation techniques provide different beadlet
. Breaking of beadlets results in orange spots of
beta-carotene. As a consequence, the product will be exposed to oxygen
during shelf life. This will lead to subsequent loss of beta-carotene
and must be compensated for by adding an average in your
tablet-formulation. CaroPure®/CaroCare® beadlets do not show any
leakage or so-called extrusion.
Vegetarian beadlets: the worlds first non-gelatine vegetarian
. encapsulated with natural, non-animal
excipients. The beadlets can also be labelled non-GM, kosher and
Crystals: Beta-carotene crystals are the basic raw materials for all
beta-carotene formulations that find numerous applications in food
colouring as well as in soft gel gelatine capsules and dry tablets.
DSM is the only supplier world-wide of natural beta-carotene crystals,
allowing you to produce your own formulations at low cost.
Sunflower oil suspension: Natural beta-carotene in a 30% sunflower
oil suspension is the preferred medium for dietary supplements such as
soft-gelatine capsules. The unique particle size distribution in
combination with the low viscosity makes the product highly suitable
for the production of soft gels. The suspension can be customized at
any % required. In addition, the suspension can be produced in any
Cold Water Soluble: designed for easy dispersion in cold water and
dissolution in warm water
. food manufacturers are able to incorporate
CaroPure®/CaroCare® CWS into existing formulations without the need
for new processes or equipment.The CWS formulation (1% concentration
of natural beta-carotene) provides improved stability against
oxidation and excellent pH, heat and UV resistance.
Information from the following pages of the DSM web site:
2. Producers of beta-carotene derived from algae (Dunaliella salina),
however, consider their more heterogenous products to be superior:
Betatene® provides a unique combination of important carotenoids that
are found in many fruits and vegetables. Betatene® contains
beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
Betatene® supplies several natural isomers (cis and trans) of
beta-carotene, unlike the synthetic products, which contain mainly one
isomer (all trans).
The algae are harvested mechanically, without any chemical additives
or solvents.The carotenoids are then extracted and formulated under
Cognis total process control using only natural plant oils.
Betatene is available in several formulations:
CWD powder dispersible in cold water
WDP powder dispersible in warm water
Microencapsulated beadlets, two formulations, one of which is kosher
A suspension of chlorophylls and carotenoids in soy oil
Purified carotenoid suspension in soy or olive oil.
(Spray-dried algal meal is also available)
Information from Cognis product brochure
Parry Neutraceuticals produce suspensions in soy oil.
This is marketed as a bulk product in food grade spray coated metal
drums flushed with nitrogen. but Parry also offer the possibility of
having it formulated into softgels.
The mixed carotenoids derived from Dunaliella comes in concentration
of 2% - 4% in edible vegetable oil along with traces of alpha
carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lutein
NBT simply harvests the algae and dehydrates them into a powder, which
is processed into tablets by the parent company in Japan.
Glucosamine is available in four chemical forms: glucosamine sulfate
(stabilized with sodium chloride, NaCl); : glucosamine sulfate
(stabilized with potassium chloride, KCl); N-acetyl Glucosamine;
Glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl).
G. Douglas Andersen, a chiropractor, discusses the different
efficacies of these four types in arthritis at
He also makes the following comments:
There is debate about glucosamine sulfate because some bargain
basement brands will have 500 mg capsules that contain 20% sulfate and
20% sodium, leaving only 300 mg of elemental glucosamine. Patients who
think they are taking 1500 mg per day may actually only be getting 900
mg per day.
. Good brands will list elemental totals and their base. For example,
the product used in my office is 500 mg glucosamine sulfate in a base
of 666 mg of glucosamine sulfate, and is stabilized with potassium
The debate surrounding glucosamine hydrochloride centers around
sulfur. Proponents of glucosamine hydrochloride feel that the sulfur
portion of glucosamine sulfate is removed during digestion and not
utilized by cartilage. The body gets sulfur, which is a critical
nutrient for GAG synthesis, from high energy phosphate compounds,
sulfur-containing amino acids, and inorganic sulfate. Proponents of
glucosamine sulfate disagree and feel that glucosamine sulfate does
provide chondrocytes with a sulfur source required for the manufacture
of chondroitin sulfate and keratan sulfate glycosaminoglycans.
The Bandolier Library for evidence-based medicine contains the
First is the problem that there is no international pharmaceutical
standard for glucosamine (or at least none that we know of).
Glucosamine is usually in the form of the sulphate, but this
formulation will contain other salts and some water of
crystallisation, the actual amount of glucosamine may vary from
preparation to preparation, stability may be a problem, and
glucosamine may be in combination with chondroitin.
Sanxin, a producer of glucosamine, supplies the HCl form as an
ordinary crystalline powder and in a granulated form, and the sulfate
(both NaCl and KCl varieties available) as crystalline powder. In all
cases, the client can specify the particle size
Health Perception (UK) Ltd market a glucosamine gel for topical use, a
glucosamine gel patch for topical use, as well as tablets and
fruit-flavored effervescent tablets.
There are a range of tablets, which contain additional ingredients.
They, and the effervescent tablets are all based on Glucosamine
Sulphate KCI. No information is given on the glucosamine used in the
straight gel, but the gel patch contains N-acetyl Glucosamine.
Another topical formulation contains glucosamine sulfate (unspecified)
with other ingredients in a spray form
and glucosamine sulfate has also been combined with other ingredients
in a cream formulation
I have found a presentation of a study on the development of
formulations for sustained release (12- and 24-hr) tablets of
glucosamine sulfate and of glucosamine HCl
Neutraceutix (now called SCOLR) http://www.nutraceutix.com/
specialises in neutraceuticals and in the development of sustained
release formulations (Controlled Delivery Technologies TM).
With respect to a glucosamine-chondroitin sustained release product
developed by the company, the Director of Product Development said,
It is widely accepted in the pharmaceutical and health supplement
industries that products requiring multiple servings often lead to
missed dosages, in turn reducing the effectiveness of any treatment
regimen. As a result, we believe that a once-daily product will
translate into increased customer satisfaction and increased sales. We
expect that this products patented formulation and proven technology
will provide substantial marketing benefit to our partners.
The Canadian distributor of the CDT glucosamine/chondroitin
formulation gives a short description of the basis of the delivery
system: This unique controlled delivery system has near zero-order
dissolution profiles of up to 24 hours. CDT does not rely on excipient
polymers to provide controlled delivery; it induces in situ reactions
to form a single, hydrophilic polymer system.
Syn-Flex is a liquid formulation which includes, in addition to other
ingredients, glucosamine sulfate (unspecified) and glucosamine HCL.
The manufacturer claims that absorption is higher than with tablets or
Source Naturals combined the sulfate with the N-acetyl form: Source
Naturals offers glucosamine in two forms. Glucosamine sulfate is the
form that was used in most clinical studies. However, another form of
glucosamine is also important: N-Acetyl Glucosamine or N-A-GTM. The
body often adds an acetyl group to the glucosamine molecule before it
can be used. Source Naturals N-A-G is glucosamine already in its
acetylated form. In addition to Glucosamine Sulfate and N-A-G, Source
Naturals includes both forms of glucosamine in GLUCOSAMENDTM, an
advanced formulation of vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients known to
support the normal rebuilding process of connective tissues.
Enymatic Therapy markets glucosamine sulfate in packets in the form of
a powder to be dissolved in water or other beverage.
In my previous answer, I mentioned that Cargill is producing
glucosamine from corn rather than from shellfish, which avoids
potential problems of allergic reactions. The product, Regenasure
will be sold in the hydrochloride form, which has at least 83% active
glucosamine as compared to the sulfate form, which has 50.7% active
CoQ10 can exist in either the cis or the trans form. It can be
produced by means of a chemical process or in microorganisms. Only
the trans form is found in nature. Synthetic CoQ10 usually consists
of a mixture of cis and trans forms. However, there is a US patent
for the stereo specific synthesis of optically pure trans (E)isomer
of coenzyme Q10
Patent no. US 6,506,915 B1, filed on Jun. 14, 2001, as Appl. No.
9/880,642. by Daniel David West of Rockport, ME
There appears to be some controversy as to whether the natural trans
form is superior to the cis form. A comment from the Parkinsons
Disease Center of Baylor College of Medicine states: There are
different forms of CoQ10; the TRANS form (Vitaline®) was used in the
above study, but the CIS form is more readily available and less
expensive. There is no evidence that the TRANS form is better than
the CIS form. The cost of the TRANS form of CoQ10 is about $150 to
$300 per month at 1,200 mg/day.
The Vitaline company referred to above claims to have the only
formulation that crosses cell membranes:
In order for supplemental CoQ10 to provide its beneficial effects, it
needs to reach the inside of your cells. However, CoQ10 is a large,
fat soluble molecule. To make an analogy, this is like shoving the
proverbial elephant through a keyhole. CoQ10 manufacturers take
different approaches to ensuring absorption. One way is the use of
harsh solvents such as propylene glycol. For most people, the amount
used per dose is probably not harmful. However, vulnerable people who
wish to use very high doses of CoQ10 compared to the general
population are increasing their exposure to these potentially harmful
compounds. Vitaline's approach is different. Our CoQ10 is produced to
exact specifications, and combined with a proprietary delivery system
that does not use potentially harmful solvents. Research has verified
that Vitaline CoQ10 increases both serum and mitochondrial (cell)
levels of CoQ10.
The product is in the form of a chewable wafer: ingredients:
Vegetable fatty acids complex, dextrates, fructose, microcrystalline
cellulose, silicon dioxide, natural vanilla and maple nut flavor.
CoQ10 is emulsified in a proprietary blend of vegetable fatty acids
and non-ionic surfactants. This proprietary process has been shown to
enhance the absorption of Coenzyme Q10 and other lipophilic
A US patent describes a dietary supplement based on a liquid
formulation of CoQ10.
Coenzyme Q10 is not very stable and deteriorates at temperatures
above 115.degree. F. It is not water-soluble and is generally provided
to the consumer in the form of a hard gelatin capsule containing
between 30-60 mg of the powdered coenzyme Q10. Because of this, the
absorption of the coenzyme Q10 is limited by the capsule itself and
the powdered form of the product.
Coenzyme Q10 is a difficult to absorb substance. For this reason, most
suppliers recommend that it be taken with fatty foods. However, as a
general health recommendation this is not advisable. Advances have
been made to improve its absorbability by milling the powder to a very
fine mesh. The smaller the particle size, the better the absorption.
The inventor claims that a liquid formulation improves absorption and
thus is therapeutically more effective. The formulation is made by
dissolving a very fine powder of CoQ10 ( 49-80 mu particle size) in
vegetable oil and then producing an oil-water emulsion.
The patent also describes additional ingredients contained in the
United States Patent Application 20030113307 filed on Dec 12, 2001 by
A self-emulsifying formulation was reported to be under development in
a journal article published in 2001:
The goals of our investigations are to develop and characterize
self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS) of coenzyme Q10
(CoQ10), using polyglycolyzed glycerides (PGG) as emulsifiers
Medium chain oils and Myvacet 9-45 provided higher solubility than
long chain oils. Efficient and better self-emulsification processes
were observed for the systems containing Labrafac CM-10 than
formulations containing Labrasol. Addition of a cosurfactant improved
the spontaneity of self-emulsification. From these studies, an
optimized formulation consisting of Myvacet 9-45 (40%), Labrasol (50%)
and lauroglycol (10%) was selected for its bioavailability assessment.
A two-fold increase in the bioavailability was observed for the
self-emulsifying system compared to a powder formulation.
Self-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SEDDS) of coenzyme Q10:
formulation development and bioavailability assessment.
Kommuru TR, Gurley B, Khan MA, Reddy IK.
International Journal of Pharmacology 2001 Jan 16; Vol 212(2): p.
Another study found that CoQ10 formulated as an effervescent tablet or
as a fast-melting tablet was more rapidly delivered to the blood than
when it was taken as a soft gelatin capsule and powder-filled hard
Comparative bioavailability of two novel coenzyme Q10 preparations in
Joshi SS, Sawant SV, Shedge A, Halpner AD.
Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jan; Vol 41(1): p. 42-8.
Enhanced bioavailability was also reported for a CoQ10 preparation
obtained by the fermentation of ordinary baking yeast on a soy-based,
CoQ10-rich medium. The authors suggest this is due to the
yeast-associated CoQ10 being present in a predominantly reduced,
hydrophilic membrane-complex form.
Relative bioavailability and antioxidant potential of two coenzyme q10
Kurowska EM, Dresser G, Deutsch L, Bassoo E, Freeman DJ.
Ann Nutr Metab. 2003;47(1):16-21.
Search strategies on Medline and Google: the name of each compound was
combined with the following search terms in separate searches:
formulation, chemical form, bioavailability, isomer
I hope this is the information you were seeking. However, please do
not hesitate to ask for further clarification if required.
Clarification of Answer by
16 Jul 2003 09:32 PDT
We're talking about three different concepts here: (a) chemical form,
(b) physical form, (c) formulation.
Chemical form raises the following sorts of considerations:
i. There might be more than one isomer of the substance, which means
that there might be more than one way in which the atoms can be
arranged in the molecule. This can have greater or lesser
implications. For example, only one isomer of biotin is biologically
active, therefore, the manufacturer has to ensure that this is the
form that is produced, or else ensure a way of isolating this isomer
from the others if the manufacturing process results in a mixed-isomer
product. On the other hand, the question might be less clear, as in
the case of beta-carotene, where some argue that the trans form is
best, while others claim it is useful to have the cis form present as
ii. The substance might be available in its free form, as a simple
salt or as part of a complex. This could impact on its efficacy. The
debate on glucosamine sulfate vs the hydrochloride is such an example.
If the chemical form affects the solubility, that could also be a
factor, since it cannot be absorbed by the body unless it is already
dissolved or can become dissolved once it is taken into the body.
Similarly, a substance that is complexed might not be usable if the
body is unable to release it from the complex. One such example is
the iron in spinach, which is complexed with oxalate and thus not
readily available to the body, even though the iron content of spinach
is very high. Therefore, the addition of powdered spinach or spinach
extract to a supplement, with the objective of this being a source of
iron, is not very useful.
Physical form covers whether the substance is crystalline, liquid,
etc. A crystalline product can be formed of larger or smaller
crystals, depending on the processed used for manufacture, extraction
and purification. The size of the crystals could be important in the
final formulation that is marketed. Thus, Sanxin offer to supply the
different chemical forms of glucosamine that they produce in different
particle sizes, ie different physical forms. It is the same substance
in each case, but might look and behave somewhat differently. A good
example is the difference between ordinary sugar, icing sugar
(powdered or confectioners' sugar) and sucrose syrup - all these are
sucrose, with different physical forms and properties, but the same
chemical form. Physical form can influence efficacy, since smaller
particles are more easily absorbed.
Formulation: I understand this term to mean the way in which a
substance is presented. It can be as simple as a powder which is taken
in a glass of water. On the other hand, the powder can be compacted
into a tablet, or used to fill a capsule. It can be dissolved in
water, alcohol or another solvent and used in a liquid form. It can
be combined with other substances which are thought to increase its
absorption and efficacy. It can be incorporated into sophisticated
delivery systems in order to achieve sustained release of small
quantities over an extended period. The formulation can affect the
absorption and also the concenience with which the product can be
used. The chemical and physical forms of a substance can affect the
types of formulations in which it is used. For example, CoQ10, being a
large, fat-soluble molecule, is not very well absorbed if taken as a
powder, whether on its own or inside a capsule. That is why there are
various formulations which are all based on dissolving it in oil and
then obtaining an emulsion, which can be used in a liquid formulation,
incorporated into the wafers produced by Vitaline, etc. These
formulations can use either the cis or trans forms of CoQ10. Vitaline
uses the trans form, claiming it is superior. Another example is
DSM's beta-carotene, which they offer in a number of formulations as
listed in my answer. However, the starting point in each case is the
same, namely the crystals that are obtained in the manufacturing
process: Beta-carotene crystals are the basic raw materials for all
beta-carotene formulations that find numerous applications in food
colouring as well as in soft gel gelatine capsules and dry tablets.
DSM is the only supplier world-wide of natural beta-carotene crystals,
allowing you to produce your own formulations at low cost.
Therefore, you can have various combinations of these concepts, for
example, the same chemical form in different physical forms and
formulations, or different chemical forms in what is otherwise the
same formulation. From what I can see, in the case of glucosamine,
some manufacturers offer more than one chemical form. However, for
the other substances, the manufacturers offer one chemical form, but
can sometimes supply it in more than one physical form or more than
one formulation. A buyer can, for example, choose to buy DSM's
beta-carotene already dissolved in sunflower oil to incorporate into a
soft-gel capsule. Alternatively, he might choose to buy the raw
crystals and make his own solution, perhaps in another type of oil, to
satisfy his own specific formulation.
I hope this is the type of information you were seeking in your
clarification, but if not, then please feel free to continue the
With respect to your proposed pricing question, if this refers to the
prices being asked by manufacturers for the four substances, I have
not so far seen any pricing information on the manufacturer web sites
that I have visited. I think it might be necessary to email or
telephone individual manufacturers to get the information. The price
would probably depend very much on the quantities in question. I did
come across a couple of sources which gave average world prices,
however, as far as I remember, a lot of these articles were quite
I cannot guarantee my availability for a major question between now
and Thursday, especially with the time difference (I am in the UK).
Moreover, I am away from Friday until Sunday as well. Thank you very
much for considering me for a further question in this area. However,
I think in this instance you will be better served by making it into
an open question or by selecting another researcher.