AquaNova has applied its solubilization technology to soy isoflavones, resulting in a fat- and water-soluble form that has been shown to greatly improve bioavailability.
Known as NovaSol, AquaNova's carrier system uses product micelles just 30nm in diameter (one millionth of a millimeter) to encapsulate the active substance.
Normally the human body must convert nutrients into product micelles before it can use them. By delivering them ready-micellized, the technology cuts down on the amount that would otherwise be lost in the conversion process.
AquaNova was recently issued a European patent for its new isoflavone technology, called NovaSOL ISO.
Soy isoflavones are well known phytoestrogens - that is, active substances derived from plants that have a weak oestrogen-like action. They have been studied for their role in cancer prevention and slowing down the ageing process in peri-menopausal women, and have proved to be a popular alternative to hormone replacement therapy for those wishing to control menopause symptoms without resorting to drugs.
Compared to the intrinsic female hormone however, phytoestrogens have a much weaker effect - several hundred times lower, in fact. This has meant that efficient absorption of the active substance has been a challenge for isoflavone products, according to AquaNova.
It claims that NovaSol ISO is much better and faster absorbed than traditional formulas, and draws on long-term research conducted by Dr Erich Elstner, director of the chair of phytopathology at the Technical University of Munich, investigating the reason for this: Since the nanoparticles containing the isoflavones have a higher aqueous distribution, access to the membranes responsible for uptake is increased.
"This yields much higher bioavailability, which partially equalised the lower biological activities," the company said in a statement.
Although there has been some debate recently about the safety and efficacy of soy, Behnam told NutraIngredients.com that AquaNova is "absolutely convinced of a strong demand, because the scientific evidence is absolutely prevailing and we have no reason to doubt that".
He added: "Our NovaSOL ISO formula makes the positive effects even stronger and overcomes former structural problems regarding the bioavailability."
The NovaSol technology has already been applied to several other nutrients. Last month the company announced the availability of NovaSol Q CoQ10. It also developed SoluE (vitamin E) and Solu C (vitamin C) in partnership with BASF, and has worked with Degussa to develop soluble and more bioavailable form of the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid.
Corporate development manager Frank Behnam told NutraIngredients.com that the same technology can also be applied to other popular supplement and functional food ingredients, such as isoflavones, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and lycopene.