Digestive enzymes supplement pill health benefit - Are they effective in improving breakdown of food?
October 22 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Digestive enzymes are produced in the pancreas and salivary glands and help to break down the protein, carbohydrate, and fat components of food for use by the body. They are are essential to the body's absorption and full use of food. The capacity of the living organism to make enzymes diminishes with age.

Digestive Enzymes found in the mouth
Amylase is secreted by the salivary glands. Lipase found in saliva prepares fat for digestion.

Digestive Enzymes found in the stomach
Gastric acid Initiates digestion of protein and kills bacteria. Pepsinogen is secreted which converts into pepsin. Pepsin Aids in initiation of protein digestion. Gastric lipase initiates digestion of dietary fat. Intrinsic Factor Aids in absorption of Vitamin B12 by small intestine.
     Secretion by the gastric glands is stimulated by the hormone gastrin. Gastrin is released by endocrine cells in the stomach in response to the arrival of food.
     Pepsin, the main digestive enzyme in stomach juice, is often found in middle ear fluid obtained from children with chronic otitis. This suggests an association between the ear problem and gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, in which gastric juice leaks into the throat. However, these children do not show an increased rate of GERD symptoms.

The role of the liver
Bile acids help dissolve dietary fat. Phospholipids promote absorption of fats. Cholesterol is excreted in bile.

Pancreatic Digestive Enzymes
Bicarbonate secreted by the pancreas neutralizes acid and protects digestive enzymes. The pancreas makes amylase, lipase, proteases and many other important digestive enzymes. The major pancreatic proteases are carboxypeptidase, elastase, trypsin and chymotrypsin. In addition to the proteases, lipase and amylase, the pancreas produces a host of other digestive enzymes, including ribonuclease, deoxyribonuclease, gelatinase and elastase. The secretion of pancreatic fluid is controlled by two hormones: Secretin, which mainly affects the release of sodium bicarbonate, and Cholecystokinin (CCK), which stimulates the release of the digestive enzymes. Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis.

Natural digestive enzymes in the small intestine
Aminopeptidases attack the amino terminal (N-terminal) of peptides producing amino acids.
Disaccharidases convert disaccharides into their monosaccharide subunits.
Maltase hydrolyzes maltose into glucose.
Sucrase hydrolyzes sucrose (common table sugar) into glucose and fructose.
Lactase hydrolyzes lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose.

An Alphabetical list
Aminopeptidases attack the amino terminal (N-terminal) of peptides producing amino acids.
Amylase to digest carbohydrates such as starch and glycogen. Amylase is secreted by the pancreas and small amounts are also made in the salivary glands. Amylase is the enzyme that hydrolyses starch to maltose (a glucose-glucose disaccharide), as well as the trisaccharide maltotriose and small branchpoints fragments called limit dextrins.
Bromelain is found in pineapples
Carboxypeptidase removes, one by one, the amino acids at the C-terminal of peptides. Cellulase for fruit and vegetable digestion
Chymotrypsin is a protease secreted by the pancreas for protein digestion. Chymotrypsin cuts on the C-terminal side of tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan residues
Disaccharidases convert disaccharides into their monosaccharide subunits.
Elastase cuts peptide bonds next to small, uncharged side chains such as those of alanine and serine.
Ficin from figs
Lactase for milk sugar digestion
LIpase for fat digestion. The drug orlistat (Xenical) is a pancreatic lipase inhibitor that interferes with digestion of triglyceride and thereby reduces absorption of dietary fat. The health concerns regarding the use of orlistat and blocking of fat absorption are yet to be fully understood.
Maltase hydrolyzes maltose into glucose.
Nucleases hydrolyze ingested nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) into their component nucleotides.
Pepsin is secreted in the stomach. Digestion of proteins is initiated by pepsin in the stomach, but the bulk of protein digestion is due to the pancreatic proteases secreted in the small intestine..
Papain is in papayas
Protease for protein digestion is secreted by the pancreas.
Trypsin is a protease secreted by the pancreas for protein digestion. Trypsin cleaves peptide bonds on the C-terminal side of arginines and lysines.
Sucrase hydrolyzes sucrose (common table sugar) into glucose and fructose.

Food enzymes
Bromelain is found in pineapples
Ficin from figs
Nattokinase enzyme
Papain -- Papaya enzymes

Regarding Inositol hexaniacinate. Can this product be safely taken with systemic or digestive enzymes?
   Much of the safety of taking a supplement depends on the dosage used. For instance, if someone asked, is it safe to have wine with a supplement, the answer would depend on whether the person intends to drink one ounce or one bottle. Most supplements are generally safe to use with other supplements if the amounts are low. However, many factors can alter this based on age, medical condition, medicines used, etc.

I've read that taking some vinegar while eating will help digest your food and keep your stomach acid down thus reducing heart burn and GERD. I was wondering if I take a digestive enzyme supplement would it still be beneficial to take the vinegar or would the vinegar either not be needed or destroy the enzyme supplement so it's ineffective?
   I am not aware that taking vinegar helps with digestion since stomach acid is quite potent. I do not think taking vinegar with a digestive enzyme would alter the effect of the digestive enzymes.

I have been trying to take digestive enzymes for 4 months now, and my body will not accept them. I get a very red face and inflammation gets way worse on my shoulders, around ears, behind ears. I have no idea why this is happening. If enzymes are made by amino acids, why not take amino acids instead and make your own enzymes.
   The body uses amino acids and other nutrients in foods to make enzymes but some people are not able to make enough digestive enzymes to fully digest and metabolize the foods they ingest.

How much fat will the 125mg of lipase in Source Naturals Daily Essential Enzyme breakdown?
    I don't know, have not seen studies that specific.

I am a 77 year old woman. Ever since I started digestive enzymes, I have stopped belching which I have had for years.

Now Foods, Super Enzymes, 180 Capsules
Buy Digestive Enzymes

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Betaine HCl 200 mg *
Ox Bile Extract (min. 45% Cholic Acids) 100 mg *
Papaya Fruit Powder 45 mg *
Enzyme Blend: 200 mg *
Pancreatin 10X
Supplying: Amylase 37,000 USP Units*
Protease 37,000 USP Units*
Lipase 2,960 USP Units*
Bromelain (from Pineapple) 120 GDU *
Papain (from Papaya) 100,000 Papain Units *
Cellulase 10 CU *
Pepsin 500 Pepsin Units *

Other products
Enzymedica, Digest Gold with ATPro, 10 Capsules
Source Naturals - Daily Essential Enzymes, 500 mg, 240 Capsules

Enzyme Supplement, Digestive Aid product
Each capsule contains 500 mg of an all-vegetarian, broad spectrum blend of digestive enzymes.

Buy Digestive Enzymes or for more information about the dosages
Supplement Facts

For Protein digestion:
   Vegetable Analog of Pancreatin
   Acid Stable Protease
For Fat digestion:
To break down carbohydrates:
To break down Fiber:
To break down sugar:

Directions: One digestive enzyme capsule with water at the beginning of each meal (or open capsule and sprinkle over food). If the meal is very large or unusually high in fat or protein, a second capsule can be taken after eating. Do not sprinkle on hot food. Store in a cool dry place.