Do I Have an Infinite Supply of Enzymes?
Put simply, no, you do not have an infinite supply of enzymes. Enzymes are naturally produced by the body. However, the adequate production of these enzymes is critically dependent upon the presence of the necessary building blocks. These building blocks are the dietary nutrients that you consume on a daily basis, including minerals, vitamins, and essential amino acids.
Enzymes: What are they?
Put simply, enzymes are proteins. Proteins are composed of specific amino acid sequences. There are 20 amino acids within the human body, nine of which are essential, meaning the body can not naturally create these amino acids. Instead, essential amino acids must be consumed from the food we ingest. Enzymes are highly specific and the slightest changes to the amino acid code that creates this enzyme can efficiently alter the structure (shape) and overall function of the enzyme.
Enzymes: How do they work?
Enzymes are necessary for the completion of all metabolic processes within the human body. Enzymes are different from other proteins in the body, as they are biological catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that accelerates overall reaction rates. Enzymes accomplish this acceleration by lowering the activation energy of the reaction. All reactions have certain activation energy. This is the energy required for the reaction to occur. When an enzyme binds to a specific substrate, this activation energy is effectively lowered and the reaction can occur at faster rates. It is important to note that the enzyme does not change the actual reaction, but only changes the reaction environment. Hence, when the enzyme is not present, the activation energy returns to normal.
Enzymes: How are they regulated?
As enzymes do not alter the reaction, they are not destroyed upon use. Instead, enzymes can be utilized many times before degradation of the enzyme occurs. Enzymes are regulated by inhibitors. These inhibitors effectively bind the enzyme rendering it incapable of binding its specific substrate to decrease the activation energy. There are also substances within the body known as activators. These activators enhance the overall activity of the enzyme when bound. Activity of enzymes can also be regulated by the body through chemical environment (namely pH), substrate concentration, and temperature.
Enzymes: How are they produced?
Enzymes are produced by the cells within the body. Each particular cell within the body is responsible for the production of specific enzymes. As enzymes are highly specific to the substrate they bind, the enzymes produced by the cell determine the actual series of chemical reactions (metabolic pathway) that is utilized.
Enzymes are highly specific. This is often compared to the lock and key model. Each substrate is a lock, and each enzyme is a key. Keys must be specific as to the lock they open. However, there is no such thing as a universal key. Additionally, enzymes often require the presence of co-enzymes to complete their function. These co-enzymes are also highly specific. Enzymes are critical substances within the body for the regulation and maintenance of all metabolic functions within the body. There is no infinite supply of these enzymes. However, the body does naturally produce enzymes and you can actually ingest certain amounts of enzymes from the food you eat.