Last modified on June 23rd, 2023
Digestive enzymes play an important role in how your body breaks down and then uses food and nutrients. Certain organs, like your pancreas, produce digestive enzymes, and foods have them as well. There are digestive disorders that can reduce your natural production, so you might want to take a digestive enzyme supplement. Enzyme supplements can help symptoms of digestive disorders, and help you absorb vitamins from the foods you eat more easily.
MAV Nutrition Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics, Digestion Aid with 3 Strains
- Enhanced digestive comfort
- Provides gas and bloating relief
- Supports digestive health
- Effective for all food types
MAV Nutrition’s best digestive enzyme supplement contains 5 different enzymes (bromelain, papain, fungal lipase, fungal lactase, and alpha-galactosidase) and 3 different probiotics to improve digestive health. This product may help to reduce bloating, gas, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues.
This supplement is vegetarian and formulated in the USA. It contains around 60 servings per bottle and reviews on this supplement say that it assists with irritable bowel syndrome and promotes energy levels in reviewers.
Designs for Health Digestzymes Digestive Enzymes with Betaine HCl + Pepsin Supports Nutrient Absorption and Digestive Health
- Promotes optimal digestion
- Synergistic enzyme blend
- Pure and Effective
Designs for Health Enzyme capsules contain 3 different enzymes to facilitate digestion. This synergistic enzyme blend may help relieve gas and bloating, occasional constipation, and may even help you stay fuller longer.
This supplement is manufactured in the United States and is GMP compliant, and rigorously tested. It contains no GMOs and is free from gluten and dairy. This supplement is professional grade and the packaging is eco-friendly. There are 60 servings per bottle and reviews say that this supplement has helped them overcome digestive tract issues and regain their health.
FarmHaven Digestive Enzymes with 12 Probiotics & 6 Soothing Herbs
- Multienzyme Supplement
- Helps to break down food
- With probiotics for digestive health
- Vegetarian, made in the USA
This supplement has 10 digestive enzymes, 12 probiotic supplements, and 6 herbs to make digestion easier and more comfortable. This best enzyme supplement may help in the digestion of hard to digest food. This product can improve digestive health and assist with absorption.
Farm Haven Capsules are vegetarian, gluten free, and Non-GMO. These capsules are made in the USA and are free from fillers and stearates; this supplement is also free from many common allergens and is NSF and GMP registered.
Garden of Life Chewable Enzyme Supplement
- Promotes nutrient absorption and helps digestion after meals
- USDA Organic
- Has 13 digestive enzymes, including 120,000 units of papain
- Hypoallergenic, gluten, dairy and soy-free, Vegan
Garden of Life Tablets are different from the rest of the supplements on this list because they provide a chewable method for taking an enzyme supplement. These tablets are shown to promote healthy digestion and facilitate better nutrient absorption. This best enzyme supplement is USDA Organic, and free from many common allergens.
These tablets are Kosher, Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO. They have no artificial flavors sweeteners or fillers. Reviews on these tablets say that they make digestion easier and have a pleasant tropical flavor that makes them easier to take than pills or capsules.
Dr. Matthew Enzymes for Digestion with Lactase Lipase Amylase Bromelain
- Contains 19 Enzymes
- Vegetarian and Natural
- Optimal Nutrient Absorption
These capsules are used by over 25,000 people and provide gastrointestinal support. They are produced in an FDA, GMP, and NSF certified facility in the United States. They are free from chemicals and fillers. These best enzyme supplements are vegetarian and contain no animal-based enzymes. Dr. Matthew’s capsules are third party tested and easy to swallow.
This capsule may assist in promoting your digestive health, and in turn provide you with more energy. These enzymes are readily absorbed and tested for quality, safety, and purity. This supplement contains 19 different enzymes for full spectrum support. Reviews suggest that this supplement is very high quality and may be great for those with both upper and lower gastrointestinal tract issues.
DigestWell Immediate Relief - Fast-Acting Digestive Support
- Vegan and Broad-Spectrum Supplement
- Fast Acting
- Clinically Proven Ingredients
- Improves Digestive Health and Boosts Energy
LiveWell Enzyme Capsules are vegan and contain only plant-sourced ingredients to provide 10 types of enzymes to facilitate better digestion and gastrointestinal health. These capsules are GMP certified and made in the United States. They are non-GMO and free from dairy and preservatives.
These best enzyme supplement capsules are third party tested and contain probiotics to ensure your digestive microbiome stays healthy. There are 90 servings per bottle and reviews say that this best enzyme supplement may provide amazing results and that it is a fast-acting supplement for rapid relief of digestive tract discomfort.
Codeage Beef Pancreas Supplements, Grass Fed, Glandular Pancreas with Digestive and Proteolytic Enzymes
- All in one Digestive Support
- Full Enzyme Complex
- Enhance Absorption
- Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Herbs
Code Age Enzyme Capsules are a full spectrum supplement to support digestive health.
These capsules have an enhanced absorption rate and contain fermented botanical herbs along with the enzymes to promote better digestion. This best enzyme supplement contains probiotics and prebiotics as well.
This supplement is made in the United States by a GMP certified facility. They are vegan and non-GMO and free from fillers and artificial ingredients. These best enzyme supplement capsules are professional grade; there are 90 servings per bottle. Reviews say that this supplement is easy to take and assists them with a variety of different gastrointestinal conditions.
What is Digestion and How Does it Work?
Digestion is the process of consuming and absorbing food and the nutrients contained within food. It is one of the most complex processes in the body due to the many organs, nerves, and chemical processes required to correctly absorb and distribute nutrients throughout the body.
The first step of digestion occurs in the mouth, where saliva and mastication (chewing) cause the initial breakdown of food into smaller, easy to swallow particles.
Food interacting with saliva (the first digestive juice) begins to disintegrate and dissolve due to the various enzymes and compounds in saliva.
Chewing utilizes muscles in the neck and cranium to grind food and prepare it for the next step of digestion.
After food is masticated and lubricated by saliva it is carried through the esophagus to the stomach for the second stage of digestion. This stage is characterized by food being deposited into the stomach for further breakdown. The acids and enzymes produced by the stomach are extremely strong and combined with the churning movement caused by the smooth muscles in the stomach, food is broken down and proteins are split up by enzymes.
After food is digested in the stomach, it is sent to the small intestine in small portions. Most nutrients are extracted and absorbed from the broken-down food particles in the small intestine. The small intestine transfers the nutrients to the bloodstream, then the nutrients are transported to the liver to be stored, processed, and redistributed throughout the body.
The large intestine is the final step. It processes the residue left by the small intestine and removes water and electrolytes to eventually excrete the waste. The large intestine produces no enzymes or acids as the small intestine is the final step of true digestion
Alongside the main organs associated with processing and digesting food, there are many other organs that produce acids, enzymes, or provide storage for the nutrients collected from digestion. The salivary glands excrete saliva which lubricates food for transport to the stomach; saliva also contains enzymes that break down sugars in food and convert them into simpler, more absorbable forms.
The liver is an important organ in the process of digestion. It plays roles in both the production of enzymes and acids that facilitate digestion and in the storage and distribution of digested nutrients. The liver is extremely important in the digestive process.
The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile which is produced by the liver. Bile is a yellowish-green fluid that assists in emulsifying food that is being digested which means it keeps the contents from separating. Bile is important in the metabolism of lipids and cholesterol as it allows the body to absorb these compounds.
The pancreas is a gland that releases important enzymes in conjunction with the other organs. Important enzymes produced by the pancreas are amylase, trypsin, peptidase, and lipase. These enzymes provide the means for the body to digest many food items more readily and easily.
The digestive system is an extremely complex set of organs and glands that provide the means for nutrient intake and absorption, as well as the disposal of waste caused by this process.
Digestive health is a crucial factor in overall health; it is very important to maintain your digestive system. If you have concerns about your digestive health do not hesitate to contact your medical professional to ensure you are not experiencing symptoms of a serious condition.
What are Digestive Enzymes?
Enzymes are specific amino acids that assist in catalyzing (speeding up) reactions in the body to allow for easier and more efficient digestion in the case of digestive enzymes.
Without digestive enzymes, it would be extremely difficult to digest food and absorb enough nutrients to sustain life.
Enzymes are amino acid complexes made in specific shapes that can each break down different compounds; enzymes are not destroyed once they catalyze reactions and are reused by the body many times.
There are five major digestive enzymes that occur throughout the digestive system:
Amylase is produced in the salivary glands and the pancreas.
It is an enzyme that aids in the breakdown of starches and glycogen (complex sugars) into more simple sugars that can be used by the body for its functions including glucose and maltose.
Nutrients must be reduced into these simpler forms for the body to be able to use them; this is very important for carbohydrates (starches and sugars) as these are the main energy source for the body.
This enzyme catalyzes the breakdown of proteins from a variety of sources. Proteins break down into specific amino acids that are used by the body for growth and repair. Pepsin assists in the digestion of proteins from major sources like meat, eggs, seeds, or dairy products.
Lipase is an enzyme that is used to break down fats and cholesterol into simpler lipids for long-term energy storage, as well as insulation, hormone production, and cell-membrane synthesis in the body. It is produced in the pancreas.
Lipids are extremely important for the body to continuously function properly; they assist in keeping the body at the correct temperature and ensure that there is an energy source for the body even when carbohydrates are not present.
Trypsin and Peptidase are enzymes that assist pepsin in breaking down proteins.
Trypsin occurs in the small intestine and continues the work that pepsin started. This continues the breakdown of the proteins and causes them to be more absorbable by the body as amino acids.
Peptidase is produced in the pancreas and it is very similar to pepsin in function.
These are the major enzymes, there are other sub-groups and more specific types.
A balance of these enzymes is extremely important in providing adequate nutrient absorption for digestive and overall health. If you have questions about the enzymes in your body, it is always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider as they can give you information that pertains specifically to you.
Should You Take an Enzyme Supplement?
Enzyme supplements may be helpful for you if you suffer from difficulty in digesting certain foods you eat.
These supplements may also be beneficial in people who suffer from chronic autoimmune conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome by reducing the pain and gastrointestinal disturbance associated with it.
Recent studies have shown that enzyme supplementation may help reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, cystic fibrosis, and chronic inflammatory bowel conditions.
For many people, digestive enzyme supplements will not cause any harm by taking them. However, if you have a healthy digestive system, taking enzyme supplements will probably have little to no effect as enzyme supplementation is very beneficial for those who suffer a deficiency, but not noticeably helpful for those who already have enough enzymes.
Speak with your medical professional to determine if enzyme supplements will benefit you.
What are the Types of Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
There are many different types of digestive enzyme supplements on the market today ranging from single enzymes, enzyme complexes with probiotics.
There are also many different forms of supplements available ranging from liquid supplements to tablets and chewable capsules.
Most enzyme supplements contain a range of different enzymes instead of single enzymes to target full digestive system health.
These enzyme complexes may contain between 13-19 different enzymes to boost digestive health and facilitate improved nutrient absorption.
On some enzyme supplement labels, you may see that they contain probiotics. These are naturally occurring microorganisms that live in your digestive tract.
When most people think about microorganisms, they think about germs that cause illnesses, but there are many beneficial microorganisms that live in and around us. The microorganisms in the digestive tract aid in the breakdown of food and allow the system to function properly.
These microscopic creatures are known as probiotics.
Many supplements that contain probiotics also contain prebiotics.
While the name sounds extremely similar, prebiotics are not the same as probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that make desirable microorganisms grow more readily.
Along with the different ingredients in supplements, there are a variety of ways in which you can take supplements as well.
There are traditional tablets that are solid and typically a very convenient way to take supplements. Very similar to tablets are capsules which are powdered supplements contained in a digestible pill; these are typically easier to swallow as they are very smooth. Alternatively, there are capsules filled with liquid supplements that are often called softgels or gelcaps.
Breaking away from the convention of swallowing pills, there are liquid, chewable, and gummy supplements available as well.
Liquid supplements allow you to take the supplement with food or drink without swallowing a pill. Gummy and chewable supplements make it easier for those who are averse to swallowing but desire the convenience of taking a pill as these provide a way to chew the medicine before swallowing.
Liquids and chewable supplements alike come in a variety of flavors which may be more appealing to some.
How do you choose the Best Digestive Enzyme Supplement?
Choosing the best supplement for you should involve a discussion with your healthcare provider, as they know the specifics about your healthcare and can provide insight into the potential safety and efficacy of supplementation.
Here are a few things to remember:
After speaking with your healthcare provider, one of the first things to look for when researching supplements to buy is to look at the certifications it has.
- Third Party Testing
GMP stands for Good Management Practices. This certification proves that the facility that makes the supplement follows safety and good management guidelines which helps to ensure the safety and efficacy of the product.
FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration.
This certification again pertains to the facility in which a supplement is produced. FDA certifications show the safety and efficacy of the product are well known and that it was produced in a clean facility.
NSF is the National Sanitation Foundation. It certifies that supplements follow certain quality and purity standards that allow it to be both pure and safe.
Third Party Testing is one of the most important certifications a supplement can have. This proves that the supplement itself has been tested by an independent lab and has been proven to be both safe and effective without the bias of the manufacturer.
Third-Party Testing is one of the best indicators of the quality of a supplement as you can be assured that the supplement has been tested and proven.
Certifications are extremely crucial in choosing supplements, but another important aspect of supplements is the ingredients that go into making them.
Here are some things to look for if you have diet sensitivities or restrictions:
- Allergen Information
Allergen information is the most important thing to look for in a supplement especially if you are allergic to common allergens.
Many facilities, though clean, process ingredients containing nuts, dairy, wheat, gluten, etc. All of these may cause serious reactions in people with allergies, so it is crucial to review the allergen information and statements to keep yourself safe from that potential risk.
Kosher and Halal are religious food certifications that ensure a supplement follows the guidelines set by these religions to ensure that people will not have to change their diet to take supplements.
Vegan and Vegetarian supplements are very popular as they provide a way to take supplements without animal additives. It is very easy to find many different vegan and vegetarian supplements which allows many people to take supplements without compromising their needs.
Organic certifications such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic certification show that the ingredients in the supplement were raised under strict conditions without the use of harsh chemicals or genetic engineering.
Non-GMO means Non-Genetically Modified Organisms. This shows that the ingredients were not modified in a lab to provide faster growth rates or more nutrient contents. Non-GMO ensures the ingredients are in their natural state.
Shopping for supplements can be difficult, and once you narrow the search down to 2 or 3 good candidates for purchase, a good place to look for reference is the reviews. Reviews can give information on how people felt after taking them, the quality of the product, and how satisfied they were with the company and product.
This can all be very important to consider when choosing supplements as the reviews provide some insight into more than just the qualifications of the supplement.
After all these considerations, it is important to speak with your healthcare professional to fully understand how taking a supplement may affect you and which supplement would best improve your health.
How do you Use Digestive Enzymes?
When using supplements, there are certain guidelines to follow that can ensure the safety and effectiveness of the supplement.
Taking too much or too little, or taking it at the wrong time can nullify the effect of some supplements so it is always a good idea to remember these steps:
- Speak with your healthcare provider
- Read the dosing instructions
- Read all warning and allergen labels
- Never exceed serving sizes unless instructed by your doctor
Speaking with your healthcare provider is the most important step in any decision that involves your health as they can give you more information that labels or internet articles can provide.
Your medical professional may also provide important dosage and safety information, so pay close attention to their instruction.
If your healthcare provider instructed you to follow the typical dose of a supplement, these instructions are usually located somewhere on the back of the label.
Following these guidelines allows you to take a safe dose that will provide as much benefit as possible.
Many supplements will have warning and allergen labels to notify you of potential side effects, allergens, or to say which people should not take a specific supplement. If any of these labels apply to you, contact your healthcare provider to determine a plan of action.
Serving sizes are the amount of supplement determined to be a safe amount without excessive amounts of the supplement. Exceeding serving sizes can cause difficulties which can be serious depending on the supplement. It is a very good idea to speak with your medical provider if you are unsure how much of a supplement you should take.
Taking enzyme supplements may be beneficial for you if you suffer from a deficiency or have certain conditions, but they may still provide occasional benefits to healthy people who have trouble digesting. The digestive tract is an amazing part of the human body, it has a sensitive balance of chemicals and microorganisms, and it is extremely important to keep it healthy.
Speak with your medical professional to develop a plan fit for your specific health as they can provide more insight than any article on the internet. Thank you for reading. As always, if you have any questions or comments about digestive enzymes, feel free to contact us!