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What are Enzymes & why are they important?

What are enzymes & why are they important?

Every person you have ever known, and all those you are yet to meet have one thing in common…they all need enzymes!

The more enzymes we have, the stronger our immune system will be. You probably aren’t aware that enzymes are necessary for things like tissue repair and metabolism. They also help to protect us by controlling certain responses relating to food allergies, high cholesterol, psoriasis, tumors, and many other challenges. Digestive enzyme research is growing and articles on this topic can be found in well known journals such as the American Journal of Digestive Disease and Nutrition, International Journal of Oncology, Digestive Diseases and Sciences, the Lancet, and International Journal of Immunotherapy.

Do we lose enzymes as we age?

Yes we do, enzyme production drops off rapidly after the age of 20.  After enzyme production begins to drop there may not be an adequate supply of enzymes to carry out the normal process of digestion. Fast-paced lifestyles and stresses that affect our physical, mental and emotional well-being add to the problem. Research has shown that older people and people with chronic disease have fewer enzymes in their saliva, urine and tissues. But the average individual needs enzymes too. Due to poor dietary habits we require excessive amounts of enzymes to digest our foods. Stress kills and damages cells, resulting in the need for our bodies to work overtime to help rebuild and replace enzymes. Those that participate in rigorous mental and physical activities are at risk for low enzyme production.  Our immune systems are challenged by environmental pollution which causes cellular damage requiring continual assistance from enzymes to sustain a healthy immune system. Like it or not, every day, your enzyme levels are dropping. 

There are different Enzymes with different roles & here’s an important one:

To help strengthen the immune system our bodies need certain enzymes that act by breaking down free-radicals and blood toxins. Protease assists in the digestion of protein and increases the production of energy.  Protease is also known to act as a scavenger that seeks out and attempts to eliminate blood toxins.  It is also known to help modulate the immune system and to help correct hormonal imbalances. Protease is important in the fight to heal from injuries; it speeds wound and tissue repair.  And where our bodies have become toxic due to heavy metals, it helps to break these elements down and eliminates the toxins. The other types of enzymes are listed further down in this article.

How do you know if the enzymes are working?

If you haven’t taken an enzyme formula you might wonder how you can tell if it is working.  Most people feel better fairly quickly in terms of energy, digestion, and elimination. Sometimes people might experience a bit of a detoxification effect when beginning enzyme therapy. Detox symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle pains, frequent bowel movements and urination may actually be a good sign that the body is now able to eliminate poisons.  Generally, if a person increases enzyme dosages and improves water intake it shortens this response.

You might wonder if you could take too many digestive enzymes.

When speaking about Nature’s Sources AbsorbAid ® enzyme formulas, the answer is NO.  Active protein enzymes do not accumulate in the body. They impart enzymatic activity that lasts anywhere from one to four hours and then they are eliminated from the body as they are broken down and the amino acids are used for other purposes. Always ask your doctor if any substance is right for you.  This information is not meant to replace your doctor’s recommendation. 


How do I know what enzymes to look for?

There are quite a number of enzyme supplements on the market today. So, it is important that you understand the labeling in order to be sure you are getting the best product available.

Looking at labels of products you will find measurement units you may not be familiar with.  These are from the Food Chemical Codex (FCC).  The FCC is published by the National Academy Press and is the accepted standard of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The system for determining enzyme potency used by the American food industry is derived from the FCC.  This is the ONLY National Standard for evaluation of enzymes.  This system establishes activity levels and potency for enzymes.

Most food comparisons are based on weight.  With enzymes the key measurement is the unit of activity and potency.  There is no direct relationship between weight and units of activity.

The enzyme activity of products should be measured and reported in FCC units.  These unit measurements are expressed as follows:

  • Protease – HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base) – Protease assists in the digestion of protein and increases the production of energy (more details above)
  • Amylase – DU (Alpha-amylase Dextrinizing units) – helps convert starches & glycogen into simple sugars & is found in saliva & pancreatic fluid
  • Lipase – LU (Lipase unit) – is made by our pancreas & helps digest fats (lipids).
  • Cellulase – CU (Cellulase unit) – is essential for digesting fruits, herbs & vegetables; it is not something that we naturally produce in our bodies
  • Invertase – IAU (Invertase Activity unit) – separates sucrose (table sugar) into its main components, fructose & glucose
  • Lactase – LacU (Lactase unit) – is essential to the complete digestion of whole milk & other dairy products; it breaks down lactose, a sugar which gives milk its sweetness.
  • Maltase – DP (degrees Diastatic power) – for the breakdown of maltose & similar sugars to form glucose; it’s present in saliva & pancreatic juic 

When comparing enzyme products make sure measurements are listed using FCC standard codes.  Some manufacturers make up their own abbreviations.  Others use weights such as milligrams (mgs).  Still others will list measurements based on dosage which may be more than one capsule.

Because of the variety of labeling formats used it is important to read carefully and make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges.

Will taking supplemental digestive enzymes inhibit the body’s ability to make its own enzymes?

No. It is the presence of hormones, not enzymes, that signals for secretion of more or less enzymes. Whether from internal or external (supplemental) enzymes, complete hydrolysis of food macromolecules is the indicator for the hormones secretin and cholecystekinin to signal the pancreas to stop secreting pancreatic juices. Taking supplemental digestive enzymes supports and assists the digestive function; it does not inhibit it.

We have very strict quality control standards on ingredient selection and our manufacturing plant has been certified as a GMP company. To each raw material received, a unique set of methodologies and specifications is developed in accordance with all available compendia literature. This set of methods and specifications is then applied to each subsequent batch received. All reasonable efforts are made to completely and effectively characterize each raw material intended for production.

If you are experiencing incomplete digestion or other symptoms relating to lack of enzymes seek the finest on the market….think AbsorbAid® family of plant enzymes. Remember it’s not what you eat that matters most….it’s what you absorb!

CLICK HERE to see AbsorbAid Enzymes

© 2009 Nature’s Sources, LLC. All rights reserved.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.