How Many Digestive Enzymes Should I Take?
The Importance of Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are an important factor within the gastrointestinal system. Digestive enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of larger molecules into simpler molecules. This breakdown is necessary for proper absorption. Absorption of nutrients is essential to the body, as only nutrients that are absorbed can be readily utilized by the cells.
There are a variety of digestive enzymes required by the body. The majority are named in association with the name of the organ responsible for production and secretion. The stomach is associated with the presence of gelatinase, pepsin, gastric lipase, and gastric amylase. The enzymes produced and secreted by the pancreas to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) are steapsin, pancreatic amylase, trypsin, chymotrypsin, carboxypeptidase, and several elastases and nucleases. The liver produces bile, which is also secreted to the first part of the small intestine, where it aids in the digestion process. The small intestine is responsible for the production of several enzymes as well, including maltase, isomaltase, sucrase, lactase, and intestinal lipase.
Digestive Enzymes from Food
Digestive enzymes are readily available from most of the raw foods that are consumed. The processing of most food products destroys the presence of most digestive enzymes. Studies have shown that heating food is the primary cause for this degradation of digestive enzymes. Even the presence of digestive enzymes within fruits and vegetables are destroyed when heated.
Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Supplements are available that contain enzymes. The majority of supplements will contain all of the necessary digestive enzymes, to ensure that any deficiency is corrected. However, it is important to remember that supplements are named because they are supplemental. Supplements should always be used in addition to lifestyle and dietary changes that ensure overall health. The use of supplements is not to correct poor lifestyle and dietary choices, but is meant to provide the extra nutrients that you may not consume on a daily basis of your healthy diet. Digestive enzymes are important, but it is more important to address the need to care for your overall general health. Typically, steps taken to improve overall general health (improved diet and lifestyle including physical activity) is correlated with improvements in digestive health as well.
Taking Digestive Enzymes
There answer to the amount of digestive enzymes that should be taken is based completely on the individual. Needs for digestive enzymes are based on age, sex, location, lifestyle, diet, and any specific conditions the individual may have. There is no specific number that can be associated to how many digestive enzymes should be taken. When digestive enzymes are absorbed from ingested food, it can be particularly difficult to regulate intake. However, eating the recommended 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables raw can greatly increase your overall intake; assuring adequate amounts have been achieved. It is also possible to supplement this intake with specific digestive enzyme supplements.