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Home > Enzyme Supplements

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

Enzyme 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. 


Sources of 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 supplements

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 radical damage.


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 potency) value.


Digestive Enzyme Supplements (Bestsellers):


Antioxidant Enzymes (Bestsellers):



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