Jeff Leighton, PhD, said he founded Maine Natural Health, parent company of SFH, because he saw the wide range of quality among dietary supplements on the market a decade ago.
Being better than a placebo
“How can the average American differentiate good products from ineffective products? American buy billions of dollars worth of dietary supplements every year, and most are ineffective, only placebo strength,” Leighton told NutraIngredients-USA.
“I wanted to know how you can design a product that provides actual benefits,” he said.
Leighton said after a stint in the Air Force he began his graduate training at the University of Virginia. He did a certain amount of medical training but ultimately chose the PhD route in chemistry and pharmacology.
“I was starting to ‘age out.’ I was turning 30,” he said.
After that Leighton embarked on a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, including a stint at Burroughs Wellcome where he worked on the development of the antidepressant Wellbutrin.
Since founding SFH in 2010, Leighton has introduced a suite of dietary supplement products including high concentrate omega-3 products, pre- and post-workout blends and whey protein products.
SFH has now launched a new product, called Keto Energy. It’s a supplement blend designed to boost energy levels, improve mental sharpness, and kick start ketone production. Leighton’s formula is based on C8Vantage MCTs, collagen protein, and caffeine. It contains no gluten, soy, artificial flavors, or added sugar.
Leighton said he chose the branded ingredient C8Vantage MCTs from ingredient supplier NNB because it offered the profile he was looking for. Not all medium chain triglycerides are created equal, in his view.
“MCTs can be divided into four different carbon families; 6 carbons, 8 carbons, 10 and 12. If you look at coconut oil, which has become so popular, that is largely carbon 12, and that is on the edge of being a long chain fatty acid,” he said.
“It does not metabolize as effectively as C8 doesn't into ketone bodies,” Leighton added.
According to the ingredient supplier, C8Vantage MCTs can produce up to 400% more ketones than coconut oil and over 20% more ketones that regular MCTs. C8Vantage is composed of more than 70% C8 MCTs, in contrast to coconut oils which contain only 7 to 10% C8 MCTs, with most of the MCTs in that source being in the for of C12s.
MCTs function along a pathway that provides the building blocks of cellular energy without having to burn sugars, Leighton said. The end result is a boost in ATP production within the mitochondria.
“There is only one molecule in our body that is responsible for cellular health and that is ATP,” he said.
The new Keto Energy product builds upon another recent launch of a product called Revive, which is based on three key ingredients: Bioenergy Ribose, a branded form of d-ribose, carnitine and CoQ10. According to Leighton the three together boost energy and a feeling of focus and concentration without resorting to caffeine.
Commitment to quality
Leighton made the choice to do his own manufacturing at a plant in Maine. While many brands choose to go with contract manufacturers, Leighton said making the investment for his own plant was important to be able to tightly control quality while at the same time give him the ability to tweak formulas in real time to make them work better.
“It’s unusual for a small dietary supplement firm to manufacture its own product, but it was important to us for quality reasons. On our last GMP inspection from FDA there were no findings,” he said.
Leighton said the company made the decision early on, too, to restrict itself to online sales. He said the company sells on its own website and has a thriving business selling on Amazon.