Your body uses digestive enzymes to break down food.
When you don’t have the right digestive enzyme balance, you experience nausea, bloating, indigestion, and even immune dysfunction.
That’s why many people take digestive enzyme supplements. A good digestive enzyme supplement gives your body crucial enzymes, supporting digestion in multiple ways.
With so many digestive enzyme supplements available, knowing which supplement is right for you is challenging. We can help.
The Top Digestive Enzyme Supplements of 2021
After much deliberation, here’s how our editorial team ranked the best digestive enzyme supplements available today.
- 1MD EnzymeMD
- Live Conscious DigestWell
- BiOptimizers MassZYMES
- BiOptimizers HCL Breakthrough
- Onnit DigesTech
- Onnit Total Gut Health
- Organixx Enzyme 17
- NSP Nutrition Digestive Enzymes
- Vital Plan Active Enzymes
- Natural Health Source Digestive Enzyme Renewal
- Amy Myers MD Complete Enzymes
- AlphaZym Plus
- EnzyMedica Digest Gold
- Gut Garden Digestive Enzymes
- Thorne Bio-Gest
EnzymeMD is a broad-spectrum digestive support supplement that helps to reduce discomfort, gas and bloating after eating. It combines 18 plant-based digestive enzymes with a probiotic, making it one of our list’s most diverse digestive enzyme supplements.
Developed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, EnzymeMD helps take the digestive worry out of your meals while supporting long-term digestive health. And, while other digestive supplements use common probiotics you can get from yogurt, EnzymeMD takes a different approach using S. boulardii to help eliminate everyday toxins and gases.
Priced at $43 per bottle and backed by average reviews of 4.9 stars out of 5, EnzymeMD is a doctor-formulated digestive enzyme formula backed by proven ingredients and benefits.
EnzyBurn is a digestive enzyme supplement priced at $49 per bottle and exclusively available to order through the official website. The supplement was developed based on research on a “forgotten population of island dwellers” who live into their 100s and stay skinny, happy, and healthy.
According to the makers of EnzyBurn, residents of that island have a unique enzyme in their local food. By taking EnzyBurn, you can force your body to produce a “miraculous thinning substance” while burning 12lbs of fat “almost overnight.”
If you believe in the power of ancient medicine, then EnzyBurn may be the right choice for you. It’s trendy among those who want to use digestive enzymes for weight loss. Although some of the benefits seem exaggerated (like losing substantial weight without exercise or dieting), EnzyBurn can support your weight loss goals with a proven digestive enzyme formula.
Live Conscious DigestWell
Live Conscious DigestWell is a digestive aid that uses plant-based enzymes to help with nutrient absorption. As a broad-spectrum formula, DigestWell contains ten fast-acting digestive enzymes that can quickly support digestion in multiple ways.
Priced at $25 per bottle, Live Conscious DigestWell is one of the best-value options on our list, offering a high-quality formula without compromising on quality. Plus, all purchases are backed by a 365-day money-back guarantee – a length of guarantee not seen with other formulas listed here.
In addition to digestive enzymes, DigestWell contains pineapple, ginger, and papaya, including digestive enzymes derived from these natural ingredients. The supplement is also manufactured in the United States and third-party tested, making it one of the best overall options for anyone interested in a high-quality digestive enzyme formula that doesn’t break the bank.
MassZymes from BiOptimizers is one of the internet’s most popular digestive enzyme supplements. Featuring full-spectrum digestive enzymes for optimal nutrient absorption, digestion, and performance, MassZYMES can increase your absorption of critical amino acids and specific vitamins.
According to BiOptimizers, the formula will also boost digestion and gut health, increase energy levels, enhance mental clarity and focus, and boost muscle recovery, among other benefits. Each serving (each capsule) contains 100,000 units of protein-digesting enzymes, one of the highest doses on our list.
If you find protein supplements cause bloating and indigestion, then MassZYMES can help. Some people take MassZYMES as part of a bodybuilding stack. Others take it to help their body digest protein and support other benefits. Whatever you’re looking for, BiOptimizers MassZYMES uses multiple digestive enzymes to support valuable benefits. At $75, it’s also one of the highest-priced digestive enzyme supplements on our list.
BiOptimizers HCL Breakthrough
HCL Breakthrough is the second BiOptimizers enzyme supplement on our list. It’s often stacked with MassZYMES, and the two formulas build off the effects of one another to support healthy digestion in various ways.
HCL Breakthrough contains digestive enzymes that improve mineral, vitamin B12, and amino acid absorption, meaning you can enjoy better digestion, gut movement, and detoxification. Some people take HCL Breakthrough to relieve bloating, gas, belching, indigestion, and general stomach discomfort. Others take it to improve exercise recovery and muscle growth.
According to BiOptimizers, HCL Breakthrough can also lead to benefits like promoting healthy stomach acid protection against food-borne infections, for example, and promoting healthy function of the valve between the esophagus and stomach to help with acid reflux and heartburn. Plus, at just $29 per bottle, it’s a fraction of the cost of MassZYME.
Onnit’s DigesTech is a full spectrum digestive enzyme supplement that contains some of the best and most proven digestive enzymes available today, including protease (for digesting protein), amylase (for digesting carbs), and lipase (for digesting fats).
However, DigesTech differentiates itself from the competition in its complementary ingredients: the formula contains 14 other powerful digestive aids, including fennel seed powder, ginger root extract, serrapeptase, pepsin, and cellulase, among others. If you want to tackle digestion from multiple angles, then Onnit’s DigesTech is one of the best options available.
Onnit Total Gut Health
Total Gut Health from Onnit is built to support healthy gut flora and optimal digestion. Growing research shows healthy gut flora is crucial for weight loss, immunity, and overall health and wellness. That’s why many people take gut health supplements.
Priced at $76 for 30 servings, Total Gut Health is one of the costlier options on our list. However, Onnit insists the formula is one of the most proven ways to aid your immune system, promote healthy gut flora, break down food, absorb nutrients, and help you digest primary macronutrients, among other benefits.
Onnit is one of the best-rated supplement companies available today for quality and testing, and Total Gut Health lives up to that reputation. With proven ingredients and a diverse digestion matrix, Onnit’s Total Gut Health continues to be one of the top-rated gut health supplements available today.
Organixx Enzyme 17
Organixx Enzyme 17 is a digestive aid that uses 17 enzymes, more than most enzyme supplements on our list, to increase the metabolism of carbs, fat, and protein.
Priced at $50 for 30 servings, Enzyme 17 was formulated by naturopathic physician Dr. Melissa Gallagher. Dr. Gallagher claims Enzyme 17 is particularly valuable for targeting protein deficiency. Enzyme 17 can increase your body’s ability to utilize the protein by giving you a tri-phase protease matrix.
Enzyme 17 also has some of the most potent doses on our list, including 3,000,000 FCCPU of bromelain, 21 ENDO-PG of pectinase, 22,500 DU of amylase, among other impressive dosages. Enzyme 17 from Organixx maintains top ratings as a valuable digestive enzyme aid for all of these reasons and more.
NSP Nutrition Digestive Enzymes
NSP Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes blend multiple digestive enzymes to improve protein digestion, improve energy levels, increase fat burning, and improve sleep quality, among other benefits.
NSP Nutrition claims their formula can even slow down the effects of aging by increasing the absorption of age-defying nutrients. Priced at $30 and backed by a 30-day guarantee, NSP Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes prevent poor digestion from killing your gains.
Like other digestive enzyme supplements on our list, NSP Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes mainly target those who want to build more muscle by utilizing more protein. If you feel you’re taking lots of protein, but it isn’t doing its job, then NSP Nutrition’s Digestive Enzymes may be the right choice for you.
Vital Plan Active Enzymes
Active Enzymes from Vital Plan is a unique blend of plant-based digestive enzymes designed to support gastrointestinal tract function and comfort.
Featuring cardamom and fennel for an added digestive boost, Active Enzymes is also one of the few formulas created by a real medical doctor. The supplement was designed by Dr. Bill Rawls, a medical doctor (MD) with decades of experience practicing medicine.
With 15 plant-based digestive enzymes per serving, Vital Plan’s Active Enzymes are designed to be taken before each meal for optimal digestion. If you struggle to break down the foods you eat, then Vital Plan’s Active Enzymes may be the right choice for you. Plus, all purchases are backed by a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Natural Health Source Digestive Enzyme Renewal
Digestive Enzyme Renewal is a nutritional supplement designed to reduce gas, diarrhea, and constipation while lowering inflammation, decreasing abdominal pain, and boosting nutrient absorption, among other benefits.
Backed by a 67-day money-back guarantee, Digestive Enzyme Renewal is priced at around $50 per bottle, with steep discounts available when ordering multiple bottles at once.
According to Natural Health Source, Digestive Enzyme Renewal can help with chest burning, sore throat, burping, hiccups, stomach pain, wheezing, coughing, sleep disturbances, and other health issues. For all of these reasons and more, Natural Health Source’s Digestive Enzyme Renewal is one of the top-rated digestive enzyme blends available today.
Amy Myers MD Complete Enzymes
Complete Enzymes from Amy Myers MD is a digestive enzyme supplement designed to support optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. By taking Complete Enzymes daily, you can help the body repair intestines and respond to inflammation, among other benefits.
As the name suggests, Complete Enzymes was designed by Dr. Amy Myers, a medical doctor who understands the importance of digestive enzymes. Dr. Myers recommends Complete Enzymes to those with food sensitivities, anyone with absorption or digestion issues, people who struggle with gluten, or anyone who wants to support healthy gut inflammation, among other benefits.
Priced at $40 per bottle, Complete Enzymes from Amy Myers MD is one of the top-rated and most reputable digestive enzyme supplements available today. With transparent labeling and a 90-day money-back promise, Complete Enzymes exceeds expectations in multiple ways.
AlphaZym Plus is a digestive enzyme supplement explicitly marketed to those who want to lose weight. Priced competitively and backed by a money-back guarantee, AlphaZym Plus aims to tackle the root causes of obesity, including digestive imbalances.
In addition to digestive enzymes, AlphaZym Plus contains other digestive aids, including psyllium powder, acai berry fruit extract, inulin, slippery elm bark, aloe powder, and chlorella. Some of these ingredients push waste out of your body. Others detoxify your system. Some support healthy inflammation.
Although some of its advertised benefits seem over the top, AlphaZym Plus is an effective and popular digestive enzyme formula that could help you lose weight in multiple ways using proven ingredients and clinical doses.
EnzyMedica Digest Gold
EnzyMedica Digest Gold + Probiotics is a popular digestive aid that speeds up digestion, boosts energy, and reduces occasional gas, bloating, and indigestion, among other benefits.
Featuring a 2-in-1 formula for digestive health, Digest Gold breaks down fat, fiber, protein, and carbs using popular and proven digestive enzymes. The formula is also the only one on our list that uses the unique TherActive probiotics, which support the digestive benefits of Digest Gold even further.
With 1.5 billion active cultures per serving and multiple proven ingredients, Digest Gold remains one of the best-rated digestive enzyme formulas for anyone looking for overall comprehensive digestive support.
SynoGut is a digestive enzyme supplement created by a 49-year old natural health specialist named Samuel Bart. Sam set out to create the ultimate digestive aid using ingredients found in the natural world, and SynoGut is what he made.
SynoGut contains a blend of multiple proven ingredients, including psyllium, bentonite clay, black walnut, oat, flaxseed, prune, aloe vera, lactobacillus acidophilus, apple pectin, and glucomannan. While other digestive enzymes focus exclusively on enzymes, SynoGut offers fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, and more.
Like AlphaZym Plus and other highly-marketed digestive supplements, SynoGut is advertised online with hyperbolic health benefit claims. However, the supplement is backed by a 90-day money-back guarantee, giving you ample time to request a refund if unsatisfied.
Gut Garden Digestive Enzymes
Gut Garden’s Digestive Enzymes is a nutritional supplement that offers surprisingly good value while being a high-quality digestive formula. Priced at around $25 per bottle, Digestive Enzymes uses betaine, pepsin, bromelain, papain, and even ox bile extract to support various health and wellness goals.
Taking Digestive Enzymes every day can optimize digestion, restore stomach acid, and soothe stomach discomfort. Instead of just giving you digestive enzymes, Digestive Enzymes provide multiple methods of action to support health and wellness in various ways.
Although Gut Garden doesn’t yet have the recognition as other top-rated companies on our list, Digestive Enzymes is one of the company’s growing number of high-quality supplements rapidly helping Gut Garden make a name for itself.
Bio-Gest from Thorne is a top-rated digestive enzyme supplement priced at just $19 for 60 capsules, making it one of the best-value options on our list.
By taking Bio-Gest daily, you can help digest fats, proteins, and carbs with HCl, pepsin, pancreatin, and ox bile. Your body needs all of these enzymes to support digestion. As you get older or as you use more antacids, your body struggles to digest foods. A supplement like Bio-Gest can help.
Bio-Gest is also one of the few on our list designed to target the insufficient secretion of stomach acid. Some people don’t secrete enough stomach acid because of gallbladder removal, for example. Thorne’s Bio-Gest aims to solve that problem with proven digestive enzymes and a high-quality formula.
VeganZyme is a nutritional supplement that contains a full spectrum blend of enzymes to support digestion, boost immunity, and encourage balance throughout the body.
By taking VeganZyme daily, you can give your body the plant-based enzymes it needs to promote optimal digestion, support the immune system, encourage overall wellness, and enjoy other digestive benefits.
Plus, VeganZyme is one of the few formulas on our list backed by a 365-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like VeganZyme for any reason, then you are entitled to a complete refund within one year of your purchase.
Now that all of the best digestive enzymes for healthy gut health supplementation are mapped out, let’s give a break down of each of their best attributes to see which is the right choice for you:
|Live Conscious DigestWell||
|BiOptimizers HCL Breakthrough||
|Onnit Total Gut Health||
|Organixx Enzyme 17||
|NSP Nutrition Digestive Enzymes||
|Vital Plan Active Enzymes||
|Natural Health Source Digestive Enzyme Renewal||
|Amy Myers MD Complete Enzymes||
|EnzyMedica Digest Gold||
|Gut Garden Digestive Enzymes||
How We Ranked The Top Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Every digestive enzyme supplement claims to support digestion in multiple ways. However, only the top-rated digestive enzyme supplements live up to that promise.
Our editorial team contacted manufacturers, analyzed lab reports, and personally tested digestive enzyme supplements whenever possible. Then, we ranked popular digestive enzyme supplements based on the following factors:
Proven Digestive Enzymes
You’re buying a digestive enzyme supplement for the digestive enzymes. That’s why we considered this ranking factor above all others. If you’re purchasing a digestive enzyme supplement, you expect it to have proven digestive enzymes.
Clinically Effective Dosages
Dosages work differently in the digestive enzyme supplement world. It’s not as simple as weighing milligrams versus milligrams. However, specific doses have been proven to work in studies while other quantities have not. We considered dosage in our rankings, and we preferred digestive enzyme supplements that used potent, clinically-effective dosages of multiple proven enzymes.
Digestive enzymes only work if they enter your digestive tract. Top-rated digestive enzyme supplements have an enteric coating to help them survive your stomach acid. The more digestive enzymes endure, the more dynamic effects you’ll enjoy. That’s why some digestive enzyme supplements had similar dosages, but one supplement ranked higher than the other.
Digestive enzyme supplements won’t cause you to lose 30lbs in a week, nor will they prevent diabetes or other deadly conditions. Digestive enzymes are one part of a healthy lifestyle. We were wary of digestive enzyme supplements that exaggerated their benefits. Good digestive enzyme supplements were open and honest with their advertised usefulness.
Price & Value
Some people want to spend $10 on a 30-day supply of a digestive enzyme supplement. Others want to spend $200. We weren’t biased towards specific budgets. However, we emphasized good value at every price. If you bought a budget supplement, we wanted you to get good ingredients regardless. And for premium supplements, we expected premium quality for a premium price tag.
Number of Digestive Enzymes
Different digestive enzymes break down foods. Protease, for example, breaks down protein, while amylase breaks down carbs. There’s no reason a digestive enzyme supplement should not contain multiple digestive enzymes. The best-rated digestive enzyme supplements contained 10 to 15 digestive enzymes.
Some of the leading digestive enzyme supplements on our list were formulated by doctors, certified nutritionists, and other professionals, giving them legitimacy over competing brands. We preferred digestive enzyme supplements that were backed by professional medical opinion or education. The best digestive enzyme supplement on our list, EnzymeMD, was formulated by a board-certified gastroenterologist!
Manufacturer Reputation & History
Some manufacturers have a proven history of creating high-quality nutritional supplements. Other manufacturers are new and unproven. Some use independent lab testing, while others just assume their supplement is as pure as advertised. We considered manufacturer reputation and transparency in our rankings.
Money-back or Satisfaction Guarantee
You can’t feel digestive enzyme supplements working. However, all good digestive enzyme supplements provide a money-back guarantee regardless. If you did not experience any benefits from your digestive enzyme supplement, or if you were unhappy with your purchase for any reason, then you should be able to obtain a refund. We preferred digestive enzyme supplement companies that stood behind their products with a money-back guarantee.
Some digestive enzyme supplements contain probiotics, prebiotics, and other digestion-supporting ingredients. We primarily assessed digestive enzyme supplements based on their digestive enzyme content. However, we also considered complementary elements in our rankings.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are compounds secreted by the body to break down food. Your body releases digestive enzymes as food travels through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
When digestive enzymes are doing their job, they break down the foods you eat, extract nutrients, and ensure those nutrients go where they’re supposed to go within your body.
What Are Digestive Enzyme Supplements?
Digestive enzyme supplements are capsules or powdered formulas containing one or more digestive enzymes.
Some people have healthy digestive enzymes. They eat a balanced diet, and their bodies regularly produce digestive enzymes to help process the foods they eat.
Others have imbalanced digestive enzymes. If you stop eating a specific food group, for example, your body will stop making digestive enzymes for that food. That’s why some people struggle to process dairy, meat, or protein-rich foods. Your body doesn’t have the digestive enzymes it used to have to help you break down the food you eat.
If you have imbalanced digestive enzymes or experience digestive issues regularly, you may want to take a digestive enzyme supplement.
How You Digest Food
Understanding how digestive enzymes work helps to understand how we digest food.
Here’s a basic overview of digestion and how it works:
Digestion involves both the mechanical breakdown of food (via chewing) and the chemical breakdown of food (via enzymes and other components within your body); together, these two processes release the nutrients in the foods you eat
Your body uses chemicals and other compounds to break down food at the molecular level, turning large molecules (that are difficult to absorb) into smaller molecules (that are easier to absorb)
Your body starts the digestion process before you start eating; when you start preparing or thinking about food, your body begins to secrete hormones, enzymes, and other compounds to prepare for easier digestion.
As food passes through your GI tract, it encounters enzymes via your mouth, stomach, intestines, and pancreas.
Some of the most common digestive enzymes come from your stomach, where proteases (protein-eating enzymes) attack proteins in food, helping you get more protein from the food you eat.
As food continues to travel through your GI tract, it encounters digestive enzymes like bile. Bile helps to break down fats. Other digestive enzymes continue to break down the foods you eat, allowing you to absorb nutrients along the way.
Signs You Have Low Digestive Enzyme Counts
If you have low digestive enzyme counts, then you might struggle to process the foods you eat.
Common symptoms of low enzyme counts include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Gas or bloating
- Unexpected weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling like there’s a ‘rock’ in your stomach after eating
- Stomach pain
- Visible pieces of undigested food, oils, or fats in stool
In severe cases, you might experience symptoms of malnutrition because of low digestive enzyme counts. Your body cannot use digestive enzymes to break down the foods you eat, so you’re unable to extract nutritional value from food. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by taking a digestive enzyme supplement.
Common Digestive Enzymes
You use digestive enzymes to target specific foods. If you struggle with carbs, for example, then you might take a protease digestive enzyme supplement. If you fight general bloating and indigestion, you might take a digestive enzyme supplement with 10 to 20 strains.
Here are some of the most common digestive enzymes and the foods they target.
- Cellulase: Fiber-rich plants with cellulose (cellulose forms the cell walls of all plants and vegetables).
- Lipase: Fats and oils
- Protease: Proteins.
- Peptidase: Specific types of proteins, including gluten and casein.
- Alpha Galactosidase: Starches in legumes
- Amylase: Starches.
- Pectinase: Pectin in fruits.
- Lactase: Lactose sugar from dairy products
- Invertase: Sucrose sugar.
- Glucoamylase: Maltose sugar.
Top 10 Benefits of Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzyme supplements could help support various benefits. Some people take digestive enzyme supplements to address malnutrition, for example, while others take them to boost protein absorption.
Many digestive enzyme supplements are explicitly marketed for protein absorption. If you want to maximize protein intake (say, as a bodybuilder or active individual), you might take a digestive enzyme supplement. Some people take a digestive enzyme supplement specifically to address protein bloating and gas.
Gas and Bloating
Do you regularly experience gas and bloating after eating certain foods? Digestive enzymes may be able to help. Some people experience gas when eating protein-heavy or carb-rich foods, for example. Good digestive enzyme supplements help break down the food you eat, reducing the risk of gas and bloating.
Better Nutrient Absorption
If you have chronically low digestive enzymes, then you might have low nutrient absorption (malabsorption). You may eat a healthy diet, but your body struggles to process the foods you eat. Some people experience malnutrition because of their digestive enzyme struggles.
Target Specific Conditions
Your body produces digestive enzymes in the pancreas. If you have a condition that affects the pancreas, you may want to take a digestive enzyme supplement. Doctors may advise someone with pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, or cystic fibrosis to supplement a digestive enzyme.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have irritable bowel syndrome, then digestive enzymes could help. Some IBS sufferers take digestive enzyme supplements 20 minutes before each meal to ease digestive discomfort.
Digestive enzyme supplements could help with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance can be caused by insufficient lactase levels, which break down the milk protein lactose. Some people experience relief from lactose intolerance by taking a lactase supplement.
People with too much stomach acid have a condition called hypochlorhydria. This condition makes it hard for your body to digest minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Some hypochlorhydria sufferers take a digestive enzyme supplement to help.
Age-Related Enzyme Deficiency
As you get older, your stomach becomes more alkaline. This could make it harder to release digestive enzymes. Many people take digestive enzyme supplements to target age-related enzyme deficiency.
People with liver disease often have an enzyme deficiency. Crohn’s disease, iron deficiencies, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and vitamin D deviancies are also linked with enzyme dysfunction.
Optimize an Imbalanced or Unpredictable Diet
If you have an imbalanced or unpredictable diet, you might struggle with bloating, gas, indigestion, and other issues. Some people take a digestive enzyme supplement to help support an inconsistent diet – say, if you travel frequently, do shift work, or eat at unusual times of the day.
Which Digestive Enzyme Supplement Should I Buy?
When shopping for digestive enzyme supplements, you’ll find some strains get mentioned over and over again.
The three most common groups of digestive enzymes include:
- Protein-Targeting Enzymes: Protease, bromelain, papain, and nattokinase.
- Fat-Targeting Enzymes: Lipase.
- Carbohydrate-Targeting Enzymes: Amylase, lactase, alpha-galactosidase, and cellulase
Best Foods for Digestive Enzymes
You can get digestive enzymes from supplements. You can also get them from the foods you eat.
Some of the best food sources of digestive enzymes, and the digestive enzymes they contain, include:
- Bananas (maltase and amylase)
- Pineapples (bromelain)
- Papaya (papain)
- Avocado (lipase)
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi (various enzymes)
These foods contain low amounts of digestive enzymes. Although you can complement your body’s natural digestive enzymes with these foods, these foods are unlikely to transform your GI health overnight.
How Digestive Enzyme Dosages Work
If you’ve ever checked a digestive enzyme label, then you may have been confused by dosages.
Digestive enzyme supplements don’t use the milligrams or grams we see in other nutritional supplements; instead, they use unique measurements like HUT and LACU.
What do these measurements mean?
These measurements come from the Food Chemical Codex, or FCC. It’s a directory of food-related measures.
Some of the common digestive enzyme measurements used in the FCC include:
- Protease: HUT, SAPU, and PC.
- Amylase: DU.
- Lactase: LACU and ALU.
- Lipase: FIP and LU.
Some digestive enzyme supplement companies use these confusing acronyms to their advantage by making up digestive enzyme dosages, adding impressive numbers and letters. You might see a supplement labeled Amylase 1,500 FCC, for example. The Food Chemical Codex (FCC) is the list’s name, but it’s not an actual measurement.
Look for Enteric Coatings for Maximum Survivability
Like probiotics, digestive enzymes need to survive your digestive tract to work efficiently.
Enzymes are delicate, and they can break down. If you buy a low-quality digestive enzyme supplement, that supplement could break down in your stomach acid, preventing you from enjoying the benefits.
That’s why it’s crucial to buy digestive enzyme supplements with enteric coatings – similar to the enteric coatings used on prescription medication.
Some digestive enzyme supplements get around the enteric coating requirements using potent dosages and diverse enzymes. When taking powerful doses and various enzymes, at least some of the enzymes will survive in your digestive tract.
Top 10 Best Digestive Enzyme Strains
We’ve ranked the best digestive enzyme supplements above. Each digestive enzyme supplement contains one or more strains of digestive enzymes – like amylase or protease.
Different strains target different types of food. Here are the best digestive enzyme strains and how they help.
Digestive Enzyme Studies: What Does Science Say?
Science has validated the use of digestive enzymes with multiple studies linking digestive enzymes to weight loss, better digestion, and other benefits. We’ll review some of the best peer-reviewed digestive enzyme research below.
One of the most extensive digestive enzyme studies was published in Current Drug Metabolism in 2016. Researchers reviewed the evidence on modern digestive enzyme supplements. They found that a combination of different enzymes “might constitute an intriguing therapeutic option in the future” due to growing advances in digestive enzyme research.
In this 2018 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers evaluated the safety and efficacy of a multi-enzyme complex in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled setting. Researchers gave digestive enzyme supplements or a placebo to 40 participants with functional dyspepsia (FD, also known as indigestion). After 60 days of supplementation, researchers found that the digestive enzyme group had statistically significant improvements in the severity and occurrence of indigestion symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the historical and preclinical data on enzymes are “intriguing” for their digestion, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. The Mayo Clinic admits that “emerging clinical data” seems to support these benefits. However, they argue that more research is needed to verify the benefits of digestive enzyme supplements, even as their use increases across the United States.
Meanwhile, Harvard Health acknowledges that digestive enzyme supplements are linked to various benefits, although little evidence supports their use for specific conditions like heartburn.
Digestive enzyme supplement manufacturer 1MD claims that studies show a “multitude of benefits” linked to digestive enzyme supplements, including better digestion, reduced fat in stools, and other positive digestive effects.
Nevertheless, you should be wary of digestive enzyme supplements claiming to offer a range of powerful health benefits. Some claim to provide easy weight loss without diet and exercise, for example. As The Washington Post explains, you should be wary of digestive enzyme supplements that over-promise benefits, as more research is needed to verify many of the benefits of digestive enzyme supplements.
Overall, science supports digestive enzyme supplements, and the supplements are backed by years of use. Furthermore, digestive enzyme supplements have never been more popular, and their popularity continues to grow as much research gets released.
Recommended Dosage of Digestive Enzymes
Follow the recommended dosage instructions on your digestive enzyme supplement.
Digestive enzyme supplements contain different strains and different dosages. Some mix 15 enzymes together. Others focus on potent doses of one or two enzymes. That’s why it’s essential to follow the recommended dosage instructions on your digestive enzyme supplement.
Furthermore, people take digestive enzyme supplements for different reasons. Some people take digestive enzyme supplements to address lactose intolerance, for example. Others take digestive enzymes for bloating and indigestion.
Dr. Neal Smoller proposes the following digestive enzyme doses to target different types of digestive issues:
- Lactose Intolerance Dosage: Lactose 9000 LU.
- Pancreatic Enzymes Dosage: Targeted, high-dose digestive enzymes like amylase 20,000 DU and lipase 5,000 LU.
- Gas and Bloating Dosage: Any digestive enzyme supplement with a targeted, high-dose formula.
- Dosage for Other Digestive Concerns: Comprehensive formula with substantial doses and multiple digestive enzyme types.
Side Effects of Digestive Enzyme Supplements
Digestive enzyme supplement side effects are rare when used by healthy adults in standard dosages.
However, potential digestive enzyme supplement side effects include:
- Abdominal cramps
FAQs About Digestive Enzymes
We get plenty of questions about digestive enzymes and how they work. Here are some of our most commonly asked questions about digestive enzymes and their effects.
Q: When should I take digestive enzymes?
A: Take digestive enzyme supplements 15 to 30 minutes before you eat. While most supplements are taken anytime, digestive enzymes need to be ready for action as food enters your GI tract. Take digestive enzyme supplements before each meal to help you process the food you’re about to eat.
Q: How do I take digestive enzyme supplements?
A: Most digestive enzyme supplements come in the form of capsules or powders. You take the tablet or powder before each meal to enjoy the benefits of digestive enzymes.
Q: Can digestive enzyme supplements help with lactose intolerance?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements could help with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine doesn’t create enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down the natural sugar in milk – lactose. When you don’t have enough lactase, the lactose travels straight to your colon instead of being absorbed by your body. This can lead to uncomfortable stomach issues. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement with lactase before you eat dairy could help.
Q: What are digestive enzymes?
A: Digestive enzymes are natural compounds within your body that help break down the food you eat.
Q: How long do digestive enzyme supplements work?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements typically work for 45 to 60 minutes after ingestion.
Q: What do digestive enzyme supplements do?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements could ease digestive discomfort, help you maintain a healthy weight, and increase absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, among other effects.
Q: Can digestive enzymes help with cystic fibrosis?
A: According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, many people with cystic fibrosis need to take enzymes before they eat. The pancreas makes thick mucus that blocks the release of enzymes necessary for digestion, making it harder for people with CF to digest food. Talk to your doctor, nurse, dietitian, or CF care team to determine the proper enzymes to take.
Q: Where does my body produce digestive enzymes?
A: Your body secretes digestive enzymes throughout the gastrointestinal tract, including your mouth, stomach, and intestines. However, most digestive enzymes are created by the pancreas.
Q: How do digestive enzyme supplements help?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements have been shown to support digestive health in various ways, including:
- Relieve digestive discomfort (including gas, bloating, occasional heartburn, and indigestion)
- Soothe digestive distress, preventing partially-digested food from irritating your intestinal lining
- Improve the microbiome and bowel function to encourage a healthy intestinal environment and relieve occasional constipation
Q: Where do digestive enzyme supplements come from?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements come from plant-based sources. Decades ago, digestive enzyme supplements came primarily from pig and cow pancreas or stomach. Today, virtually all digestive enzyme supplements use plant-based sources.
Q: What’s the best digestive enzyme supplement?
A: The best digestive enzyme supplements include any of the top-ranked formulas on our list.
Q: How does digestion work?
A: Digestion is the process where your body breaks down food mechanically and chemically. Your body mechanically breaks down food with its teeth (via chewing). It also chemically breaks down food with stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and other compounds.
Q: Which digestive enzyme strain should I take?
A: The most common digestive enzyme strains found in supplements include amylase, protease, and lipase.
Q: What happens when food is not partially digested?
A: If your body cannot digest the food you eat, then you might experience indigestion, nutritional deficiencies, irritation and inflammation, and an increased risk of disease and illness, among other issues.
Q: What are the best food sources of enzymes?
A: Raw vegetables, nuts, fruits, and raw meats are digestive enzymes to support digestion. However, food sources contain low dosages of digestive enzymes compared to digestive enzyme supplements.
Q: What is protease?
A: Protease is a digestive enzyme that helps to digest protein. Protease also helps break down debris from bacteria and parasites. If you want to maximize protein absorption and avoid feeling bloated from protein, then protease may help.
Q: What is amylase?
A: Amylase is a digestive enzyme targeting carbohydrates. Some people take amylase to support blood sugar. Others take it to help manage a carb-heavy diet.
Q: What is lipase?
A: Lipase is a digestive enzyme that targets fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Some people take lipase to support cholesterol levels.
Q: Should I buy the plant or animal-sourced digestive enzymes?
A: Most people prefer plant-based enzymes because they’re explicitly cultivated for supplement use and are more versatile (they function in all pH environments). Animal-based enzymes come from the pancreas and stomach of cows and pigs, and they only operate within the 8.0 to 9.0 pH range. Today, virtually all digestive enzyme supplements come from plant sources – not animal sources.
Q: Which foods have digestive enzymes?
A: Pineapples, papaya, mangos, honey, bananas, and avocados are some of the richest food sources of digestive enzymes. Alternatively, fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir are also popular sources of digestive enzymes.
Q: What causes low digestive enzymes?
A: You could experience low digestive enzymes due to:
- Too little exercise (or too much exercise)
- A poor, unbalanced diet (say, if you’re eating too many carbs or too much protein)
- Medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, gallstones, and diabetes
Q: Do digestive enzyme supplements work?
A: One 2016 review found that modern digestive enzyme supplements “might constitute an intriguing therapeutic option in the future” for treating diseases. Although some research shows digestive enzymes are ineffective, other research proves digestive enzymes work as advertised.
Q: Are digestive enzyme supplements safe?
A: Digestive enzyme supplements appear to be safe to take by healthy adults in regular doses. However, talk to your doctor before taking a digestive enzyme supplement if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.
Q: Who needs digestive enzymes?
A: Some people take digestive enzymes because they want to support GI health. Others take digestive enzyme supplements because doctors recommend them for specific conditions, including chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic cysts, pancreatic cancer, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes.
Q: What are the side effects of digestive enzyme supplements?
A: The most common side effect of a digestive enzyme supplement is constipation. Others experience nausea, cramping, or diarrhea. However, side effects are rare when used by healthy adults in standard dosages.
Q: What’s the best digestive enzyme for gluten intolerance or gluten problems?
A: Gluten is a protein. Some digestive enzyme supplements contain specific gluten degrading enzyme-labeled ‘glutenase.’ However, this is not an actual digestive enzyme. Instead, glutenase can be peptidase, protease, and other types of digestive enzymes. Because gluten is a protein, many people relieve gluten issues with protease enzymes.
Q: How long will it take to start seeing results from digestive enzymes?
A: Digestive enzymes work within 20 to 30 minutes of ingestion, helping you break down the foods you’re about to eat. Digestive enzyme supplements can also operate over a three to four-week period, supplementing your body’s natural levels of digestive enzymes.
Q: Is a raw food diet good for digestive enzymes?
A: Raw foods provide some digestive enzymes for particular foods. However, digestive enzyme supplements contain a more diverse range of digestive enzymes at more potent doses.
The Top Digestive Enzyme Supplements of 2021 Final Word
Digestive enzyme supplements have never been more popular. Their popularity rises every year.
Today, you have more digestive enzyme supplement options than ever. Some supplements target specific conditions – like lactose intolerance and cystic fibrosis. Others provide a full spectrum of digestive enzymes for various benefits.
To learn more about the best digestive enzymes or buy a top digestive enzyme supplement today, check our list above.
RELATED: Amy Myers MD: Reviewing the Amy Myers MD Supplements
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