Home > Enzyme Supplements
Digestive Enzymes / Antioxidant Enzymes
What are enzymes?
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze a chemical reaction. Without
enzymes, many chemical reactions take place so slowly that they cannot
sustain our life. Each enzyme has specific chemical structure and
only works for certain substrates. In fact, enzymes are involved in
all body functions including digestion, respiration, circulation,
elimination, detoxification, etc. Enzyme deficiency or malfunction of some critical enzymes can lead to serious
diseases or even death.
Types of enzyme supplements
supplements are usually divided into two groups: digestive enzymes and
antioxidant enzymes. There are 3 main types of digestive enzymes:
amylase, protease and lipase. Amylases, found in saliva, pancreatic and
intestinal secretions, break down carbohydrates. Proteases are found in
the stomach acid and also in the pancreatic and intestinal secretions,
their function is to break down proteins into amino acids. Lipases, found
in pancreatic and intestinal secretions, are involved in fat digestion.
Antioxidant enzymes are metabolic enzymes involved in reduction oxidation
reactions (redox reactions). Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase are
two important antioxidant enzymes. SOD breaks down a common free
radical called superoxide whereas catalase destroys hydrogen peroxide, a
metabolic waste in our body. Both SOD and catalase are powerful free radical scavengers.
They are many times more effective than the smaller
antioxidants, vitamins C and E. Unlike vitamin C and vitamin E, SOD and catalase can convert free radicals to less harmful forms, inert or even
useful compounds without becoming free radicals themselves.
digestive enzymes and antioxidant enzymes
Both digestive enzymes and antioxidant enzymes are synthesized naturally
in our body and are available in a variety of food sources, such as fruits,
vegetables, sprouts and fat containing foods. Digestive
enzyme supplements can be extracted from plant sources, animal sources or
microorganisms. For example, papain and bromelain are proteolytic enzymes
(digest proteins) extracted from papaya and pineapple. Pancreatin and
pepsin are extracted from animal sources and help to digest carbohydrate,
protein and fat.
Foods rich in digestive enzymes: raw foods, avocados,
papaya, pineapple, banana, sprouts.
Foods rich in antioxidant enzymes: alfalfa, barley grass,
broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, wheat grass, dark green plants.
Benefits of enzyme
The importance of digestive enzymes is not limited to food digestion per
se. They also have anti-inflammatory, fibrinolytic, and thrombolytic
functions and immune modulating effects. Proteolytic enzymes have been used in
the treatment of many diseases, such as pancreatic insufficiency, chronic
pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory
diseases and used as complementary cancer therapy.
Although our body can synthesize enzymes naturally, studies show that our
ability to produce enzymes decreases as we age, which affects many body
functions, including digestion and energy production. In addition, enzymes
are very sensitive to heat and are easily destroyed in cooking. Taking digestive enzyme
supplements can help you get the full benefits of nutrients from the
foods, especially for elderly people or people who eat mostly cooked
processed foods, whereas antioxidant enzymes can help you ward off free
Tips for buying enzyme supplements
1. Source - Enzymes can be extracted from plant, animal and
microbial source. Most commercial enzyme supplements are extracted
from natural fermentation of microbes such as fungi, yeast and
bacteria. Microbial enzymes are cheaper to produce and the enzyme
content is easier to control. In addition, both microbial and
plant-based enzymes are active in a wider range of pH and are animal
friendly. They are particularly suitable for vegetarians. In
contrast, animal based enzymes work only in a narrow range of pH and can
be easily destroyed by stomach acids. If you are consuming animal
based enzymes, choose those which are enteric coated.
2. Variety - Enzymes work best when they come in a wide
variety. Choose an enzyme supplement which is a blend of different
enzymes, including amylase, cellulase, lactase, protease, lipase,
invertase, bromelain, papain. This would help the digestion of
carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Similarly, a mixture of SOD and
catalase works better than single antioxidant enzyme alone.
3. Potency - Compare the potency of various products.
For examples, the activity of bromelain and papain can be measured
as MCU (milk clotting unit) or GDU (gelatin digestion unit). Unlike
other supplements, the weight (mg) of enzyme supplement carries no
significance. It is not the amount but the potency / activity of the
enzyme that really matters. The more active the enzyme, the more
food it can digest and the higher the MCU / GDU (or other units of
Digestive Enzyme Supplements (Bestsellers):
Antioxidant Enzymes (Bestsellers):