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Enzymes required by our body

Enzymes are specialized protein molecules facilitating most of the body's metabolic processes - such as, supplying energy, digesting foods, purifying your blood, ridding the body of waste products etc.

They are divided into two main groups - that being metabolic enzymes and digestive enzymes.

Enzymes are vital to our health and change the rate at which chemical reactions happen, but without any external energy source added or by being changed themselves. These very important ingredients to our health, is reaction specific, and will only act on certain substances - referred to as substrates.

These reactions could be for the substrate to bond to the enzyme, or different substrates bonding together, or for the substrate to be broken up into different products.

Without enzymes in your body, you could have the best nutritional plan around, and supplement your diet with a host of vitamin supplements, but without these humble workers we call enzymes, the vitamins will not be absorbed into your system.

Although enzymes are found in small quantities, they are extremely powerful - 30 grams of pure crystalline pepsin would digest nearly 2 metric tons of egg white in a matter of hours.

They assist in fighting aging, weight loss, lowering cholesterol, cleaning the colon, breaking down fats, strengthening the immune system, improve mental capacity, detoxifying the body, building muscles from protein, eliminating carbon dioxide from the lungs etc.

It is interesting to note that people have reported the disappearing of allergy symptoms after taking amylase.

They are classified into several categories, where hydrolytic enzymes break down substances into simpler compounds, oxidizing enzymes (or oxidases) assist with oxidizing reactions and reducing enzymes, which speeds up reduction where oxygen is removed.

Food enzymes are divided into seven categories, them being:

  • lipase (breaking down fat),

  • protease (breaking down proteins),

  • cellulase (breaking down fiber), a

  • mylase (breaking down starch),

  • lactase (breaking down dairy),

  • sucrase (breaking down sugars) and

  • maltase (breaking down grain).

Individual enzymes are compiled by adding the term "ase" to the substrate to which it reacts with - lipase for lipids (fats). There are however enzymes like trypsin and pepsin which "ase" is not added to, since they were named before this standardized.

When we cook food at high temperatures, we kill the enzymes contained in the food, and this will lead to undigested, or poorly digested food in the digestive tract. This in turn will lead to putrefying food in your system, which may cause a host of health problems.

When we ingest diet-sourced enzymes, they start to pre-digest food, which means that less internally produced enzymes are required to digest the food properly.

Most cell respiratory processes require enzymes - such as glycolysis, Krebs cycle etc.

Deficiency of enzymes: A shortage of enzymes in the body will influence the health of the entire body, and symptoms may include stomach gas, indigestion, bloating, heartburn and flatulence.

Dosage: Depending on the type of dietary supplement, which you decide to buy, it is best to take them at meal times.

When selecting a supplement ensure that it contains: protease, amylase, lipase, lactase and cellulase

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: People starting an intake of these compounds in supplement form have reported in some cases an increase of gas, bloating, acne, slight dull headache etc - the symptoms are however temporary and is the body's way of healing itself. More water must be taken when taking enzymes in supplement form, to assist with the cleansing of the body.

The benefits are felt and seen quickly, but maximum effect is only achieved after taking a supplement for some time, and the best results are reported after taking it for at least 12 weeks.

When more may be required: When recovering from an illness, or suffering from a chronic disease you could benefit from ingesting dietary enzymes. People suffering from hypoglycemia, endocrine gland deficiency, obesity, anorexia nervosa as well as stress related problems have reported benefits from a supplement.

It is also said to assist with acne, psoriasis, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, Epstein-Barr Syndrome (also called glandular fever) allergies, arthritis, fevers, infections, depression, anxiety etc.

Although they do sound like a cure-all, it really is not the case - they are simply required in so many body functions, that an increase of enzymes to the optimum level, would in most cases impact positively on a host of health problems.

People eating mostly cooked food, athletes, body builders, and all people involved in feeling more energetic and healthy could benefit from these often neglected nutritional compounds.

Enemy of enzymes: They are sensitive to heat as well as the surrounding pH. For this reason, food cooked at high heat. Food processing also kills of these entities.

The presence of heavy metals, such as mercury, dehydration as well as ultra-violet radiation impair their functions.

Other interesting points: Enzymes do not attach to living cells, but will digest the proteins in dead cells. The reason for this is the fact that enzymes cannot pass through the cell membrane of a living cell, but when the cell dies, the membrane loses this ability and the enzyme can act upon it.

People taking dietary enzyme supplements should expect more bowel movements.

Food sources of enzymes: The best source of enzymes from your diet comes from raw food, eaten in its original state with no processing.


Protease refers to a group of enzymes whose function it is to break down proteins and are also referred to as proteolytic enzymes or proteinases. The proteins are broken down to their basic building blocks - amino acids.

In order to have the amino acids available to the body, these enzymes have to break down the proteins to free them, and this important compound is also being used in therapies such as oncology, inflammatory conditions and immune control.

It is also valuable in assisting the body to fight infections and onslaughts from viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria. Protease from aspergillis (Aspergillus Niger / Aspergillus oryzae) may also be able to assist in breaking down dietary proteins and polypeptides which have leaked into the bloodstream as food antigens.

Deficiency of protease: A deficiency of this compound can cause anxiety and insomnia, since it will affect the blood alkaline level, and since it is involved in carrying protein-bound calcium in the bloodstream a deficiency may also influence the susceptibility for arthritis, osteoporosis and calcium related diseases.

Since protein conversion is necessary for glucose in the body, a problem with protein digestion can lead to hypoglycemia, irritability as well as mood swings.

It is used in clearing debris from the blood as well as certain viruses and bacteria, and a shortage of it may result in compromising your immune system or at best decrease your immunity. Symptoms of a shortage can include a variety of symptoms such as constipation, parasites, gingivitis, hearing problems, problems with your back, high blood pressure, gum disorders, insomnia etc.

Other interesting points: Howell, the original pioneer in enzyme research, developed enzyme supplements from aspergillis oryzae (a fungus) after finding them more effective than animal-based pancreatic supplements, which subsequent research confirmed.

Aspergillis enzymes are also unusually stabile and active under a wide range of pH conditions, which is a very positive point, since animal enzymes (i.e., pepsin, pancreatin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, pancrelipase, and pancreatic amylase etc.), normally require special pH conditions, often lacking in impaired health conditions.

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Amylase refers to a group of enzymes which break down sugars and starches.

It is required to digest carbohydrates (polysaccharides) into smaller units (disaccharides), and eventually converting them into even smaller units (monosaccharides) such as glucose.

It is also involved in anti-inflammatory reactions such as those caused by the release of histamine and similar substances.

These inflammatory reactions normally happen to organs which are in contact with the outside environment, such as your skin and lungs and would include problems such as psoriasis, eczema, hives, insect bites, allergic bee and bug stings, topic dermatitis, and all types of herpes as well as lung problems including asthma and emphysema.

Ptyalin (that is amylase found in your saliva) begins polysaccharide digestion in the mouth and the process is completed in the small intestine by amylopsin (amylase excreted by the pancreas).

Deficiency of amylase: If your diet is excessively high in carbohydrates, a deficiency of amylase may occur, since this enzyme would be used up by the body at a tremendous rate, and symptoms may include a diversified group of symptoms, which may include a skin rash, depression and mood swings (including PMS), hypoglycemia, allergies, general fatigue, cold hands and feet, inflammation, aches in your shoulders etc.

Other interesting points: It is also involved in digesting and getting rid of dead white blood cells (a nicer name for pus) and for this reason you might be more prone to abscesses if you are deficient in this enzyme.

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Lipase is the enzyme required to break down fats and lipids (to give di- and mono- glycerides, glycerol and free fatty acids) and is produced in the pancreas, and is released in the small intestine. Pancreatin, produced by the pancreas also contains two other enzymes - protease and amylase.

Digesting fats and lipids are more difficult since they have to be carried by a water based transport system - the blood and lymph.

Although fat digestion is not concentrated in the stomach, gastric lipase is the digestant to attend to this, and will digest egg yolk and cream, since they are already emulsified fats.

In order for fat to be digested properly, the liver starts this process emulsifying the large fat molecules, and bile breaks it down to small droplets, allowing the lipase to start its work.

Fat digestion in the small intestine is reliant on a pancreatic secretion called pancreatin containing lipase as well as protease and amylase.

In some vegetarian diets, very little bile is produced since the liver is not stimulated to produce bile, with the result that the large fat molecules are not properly emulsified, making it difficult for the lipase to bind, leading to incomplete or reduced fat absorption.

Deficiency of lipase: A shortage of lipase in the body may lead to high cholesterol, difficulty in losing weight, a tendency to diabetes, high urine sugar levels - which some believe could lead to arthritis, bladder problems, gall stones, hay fever, prostate problems, heart problems etc.

With too little lipase, the cell membranes permeability is not at optimum, and nutrients cannot enter the cell, while wastes cannot leave the cell.

There is also a tendency amongst people suffering from being lipase deficient, to have a problem with electrolyte balance as well.

Muscle spasms and a spastic colon is also reported as being a symptom of lipase deficiency.

People suffering with a spastic colon may also be lipase deficient as well as the condition of vertigo (Meniere's Disease) which is dizziness made worse by movement.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: No toxicity or side effects have been reported.

When more may be required: People with a tendency to pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis may benefit from a lipase supplement as well as those with celiac disease, Crohn's disease, as well as those suffering indigestion and heartburn.

Enemy of lipase: Betaine HCI or hydrochloric acid should not be taken with this in supplement form, as it might destroy this and other enzymes.

Food sources of lipase: It is found in a variety of mammalian and microbial sources.

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Lactase is required to break down lactose (a primary sugar found in mammalian milk) and is produced in the small intestine, which breaks lactose into two simpler sugars.

It is required for the digestion of milk and milk products.

Some people do not produce enough lactase and are often referred to as lactose intolerant, and symptoms may include cramps, gas as well as diarrhea.

It has also been suggested that lactose intolerant people have a problem with calcium absorption, and this may also need to be checked, by a lactose intolerant person.

Deficiency of lactase: If the intestines do not produce enough (or any) lactase, the milk sugar (lactose) is not digested and moves into the colon, where it is fermented by bacteria - producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide and organic acids, which can result in diarrhea, gas and cramps.

To test for lactose intolerance, drink two glasses of milk on an empty stomach and watch for any gastrointestinal symptoms. Do the same test but substitute the milk with cheese.

If you have any symptoms from the milk, but not from the cheese (which contains very little lactose), you might be lactose intolerant. If you have symptoms from both, it may indicate an allergy to dairy.

If you suffer from lactose intolerance, it might be helpful to have a lactase supplement before having any meal containing lactose.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: It is safe, and no toxicity or side effects have been reported when taking a dietary supplement.

When more may be required: A supplement may be beneficial to people suffering from diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome as well as sufferers of migraine headaches, since certain studies indicate that migraine sufferers are deficient in lactase.

Other interesting points: It is an interesting point that when yogurt is eaten, it does not easily trigger symptoms in lactose-intolerant people.

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Bromelain (bromelian)

Bromelain (also referred to as bromelian) is an enzyme capable of digesting protein and is present in pineapple stems and ripe or unripe pineapple fruits. For this reason it is also referred to as the pineapple enzyme.

Bromelain has been heralded as an anti-inflammatory agent, helpful in healing minor injuries, such as sprains and strains, muscle injuries, and sports injuries. Because of these properties, it is also sometimes used for treatment of traumatic and post-operative swelling.

It is also used in fighting urinary tract infections when combined with trypsin, and because of its natural blood thinning action is helpful in preventing excessive blood platelet stickiness - indicating it to decrease thrombopheitis and angina. Since it can reduce the thickness of mucus it could be helpful to people suffering from asthma and bronchitis.

Furthermore it may also have a beneficial effect on drug absorption, blood coagulation, fibrinolysis, third-degree burns, diarrhea as well as tumor growth.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: No known level of bromelain exists, but an increase of heart rate has been reported, as well as occasional gastric disturbances or allergic reaction.

When more may be required: People suffering from angina, asthma, minor injuries as well as urinary tract infection may benefit from a bromelain supplement.

Other interesting points: Increased bleeding may occur when used with anticoagulants.

Bromelain has proved to be effective in fighting certain diarrhea causing bacteria (Escherichia coli), which makes it a perfect supplement to take along when traveling, since diarrhea is often encountered when traveling to strange places.

Food sources of bromelain: It is found in pineapples.

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Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful natural occurring compound, promoting chemical reactions, protecting the body from free radicals, and is also called ubiquinone. Some disagreement exists regarding its classification, where some are of the opinion that it is in reality a vitamin or vitamin-like substance.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is naturally present in foods, and can be synthesized by the body from the amino acid tyrosine during a multistage (17 stages) process requiring eight vitamins and several trace elements.

One of the best-known effects of this compound is its antioxidant qualities as well as the control it exercises on the flow of oxygen within cells, assistance with cardiovascular functioning, the production of energy, its assistance with absorption of other nutrients as well as its immune boosting properties.

Studies on mice showed an increase of 50% extension of life span.

It is the Coenzyme Q10 that is the coenzyme for at least three mitochondrial enzymes as well as other enzymes in the cell. The mitochondrial enzymes are essential for the production of high-energy adenosine phosphates (ATP).

It has been found to be effective with a variety of health problems, and great promise has been shown in assisting with cancer treatment, protecting patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies showed that patients taking 90 mg of this compound experienced less pain and increase in appetite and decreased metastases.

Studies using 300 -900 mg, reported partial or total remission. People who stay thin and slim, yet eat a lot have much higher levels of this compound in their blood, and it also assists with fuel efficiency within the cells, which also assists weight loss.

People suffering from periodontal disease may also be deficient in this compound, as it has a protective and strengthening action in all tissues. (This is why it is also beneficial to the heart muscle.)

Deficiency of Coenzyme Q10: When we are deficient of this compound in our system, our general health will start deteriorating and should levels drop 25% below the optimum levels, many diseases may start progressing, diseases like high blood pressure, heart attack, angina, immune depression, periodontal disease, lack of energy and weight gain.

People suffering from congestive heart failure and taking coenzyme Q10 should NOT stop taking it suddenly since sudden withdrawal may intensify the symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Dosage: No recommendation has been set.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: Toxicity and side effects are not known, but pregnant or breast-feeding mothers should not take it in supplement form.

In extreme dosages, such as 600 - 1200 mg per day headaches, heartburn, fatigue, diarrhea and skin reactions have been reported.

Best used with: Since the compounds are fat soluble, it is best to take it with dietary fat present.

When more may be required: Should the liver perform under par, it cannot manufacture Q10 from the other Q coenzymes, and this production also diminish with age.

People suffering from angina, HIV, male infertility, diabetes, periodontal disease, high blood pressure, cancer and receiving chemotherapy could benefit from an increase in CoQ10.

Food sources of Coenzyme Q10: Good sources are found in beef, soy, mackerel, sardines, spinach, peanuts, soybeans and vegetable oil.

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Maltase is an enzyme that is the catalyst in the hydrolysis of disaccharide maltose to the simple sugar form - glucose, and is found in plants, bacteria, and yeast; and in humans

Although the enzyme can be ingested in the diet, it is thought to be able to be manufactured in the body by the mucus membrane lining in the intestinal wall.

When starch is eaten, it is partially digested and transformed to maltose by both the saliva enzymes and pancreatic enzymes called amylases.

The maltase secreted in the intestines, then converts this maltose into a more ready usable sugar glucose, or the glucose could also be stored in the liver for future use.

Toxicity and symptoms of high intake: No toxicity or side effects have been reported.

Enemy of maltase: Betaine HCI or hydrochloric acid should not be taken with this in supplement form, as it might destroy this and other enzymes.

Food sources of maltase: It is found in a variety of mammalian and microbial sources.

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The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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