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Enzymes: What Are They and How to Compare Them.

enzymesWhen looking for a Enzyme product; Beware of Marketers who try to sell you products "at wholesale" or "big discounts," you could be purchasing garbage. Some questions you should be asking when looking for a high quality enzyme are:

1) How is it manufactured? Is it manufactured in the United States? If not you don't know what your getting. Test after test prove that imported supplements may contain little if any active ingredients. By importing overseas manufactured supplements marketers can avoid the regulations required to produce safe and effective supplements in the United States[1].

2) What form does the supplement come in? Pill or tablet? Capsules provide for higher bio-availability.

3) Are they 100% vegetarian product? Enzymes come from to sources, plants or animals. Many enzyme products contain animal by-products. This can create a dependency which could get you hooked for life. Further plant and microbial enzymes are more stable in the acidic conditions that exist in the stomach and the temperature ranges of the body. This aids in the digestion of both cooked and raw foods.

Most people may not be aware that there are different enzyme supplements for different support functions.

Enzymes play an important role in our living body. Enzymes are primary body biomolecules made specifically to turn one molecule into another. It even takes enzymes to make other enzymes!

The healthy pancreas is essential to proper enzyme production and levels. It is the pancreas that creates enzymes.

The pancreas are made up of two types of tissues;

  1. Exocrine tissue which contain exocrine cells that are responsible for producing enzymes;
  2. Endocrine Tissue which which contain Langerhans cells that are responsible for producing and secreting hormones into the bloodstream. The two most important hormones produced by the endocrine system are insulin and glucagon, which are needed to regulate blood sugar levels.

As we age, or through health challenges, our pancreas slows its production of these important enzymes and hormones. This is where supporting you body's natural enzyme production with a high quality enzyme supplement is a wise choice.

While there are countless specific enzymes, it's best to think of enzymes as falling into one of two main categories:

  1. Digestive Enzymes
  2. Systemic Enzymes

stomachDigestive enzymes are found exclusively in the intestinal tract and stomach. They help us digest our food in order for the larger molecules of food to be small enough for absorption. Digestive enzymes work in the different environments inside the gastrointestinal tract and have names like amylase, protease and lipase. These enzymes break down starches, proteins and fats, respectively.

Without digestive enzymes, we would suffer from malnutrition because the food molecules would be too big. The excess food would pass into the colon where bacteria would consume the food molecules and release gas. The result would be bloating, stomach cramps and gas. In addition, our digestive enzymes are capable of killing many of the dangerous bacteria we accidentally eat.

Different digestive proteins serve different functions. When looking for a high quality digestive enzyme product look for one that contains the full complement of digestive enzymes along with molecules that make the environment easier for the enzymes to work.

Systemic enzymes, also called metabolic enzymes, act within the blood and body tissues. There are vast numbers of systemic enzymes";each of which serves a specific function. Nothing much can happen inside our body without requiring an enzyme to get it done.

One of the most important questions we should be asking ourselves when looking to purchase a systemic enzyme product is what is the fibrinolytic unit rating? Fibrinolytic units are a cornerstone of an effective systemic enzyme supplement. The higher the rating the more effective the supplement is.

heartWhen looking for a is an systemic enzyme blend, look for one that provides several vital enzymes essential to the health of our heart, brain and blood vessels. Once absorbed by the body, the enzymes, serrapeptase and nattokinase act to break down excess fibrin in our bodies. These enzymes are known as fibrinolytic enzymes. Fibrin is the substance that helps blood form clots. Blood clots are the basis for the occurrence of strokes, heart attacks and deep vein thromboses, which are dangerous blood clots in the veins. In addition, fibrinolytic enzymes break down fibrin that "scars" our connective tissue, leading to arthritic pain or other pain in the musculoskeletal system.

Having healthy amounts of fibrinolytic enzymes inside the body means less connective tissue or arthritic pain. More importantly, fibrinolytic enzymes in our body reduce the risk of developing unwanted blood clots. The interesting thing about serrapeptase and nattokinase is that when you actually need your blood to clot, such as when you get a cut or laceration, your body will still function as it needs to in order to stop the bleeding.

The Label: When looking for a high quality enzyme supplement weights mean nothing, unless it is a high quality enzyme supplement. If it is a high quality supplement then the higher the weight the more potent it will be.

High quality enzyme supplements are measured in terms of activity and potency. If enzymes are present they must be active. If they are not active they are worthless.

Tests under specific scientific controls must be conducted to determine the activity level of enzymes. The measurment system developed for determining enzyme potency is derived from the FCC.

There are a number of "activity" measurements, here are the ones associated with some of the most popular enzyme blends;

  • FU (FIBRINOLYTIC UNITS) - the A dosage measure for the breakdown of fibrin, usually by the enzymatic action of plasmin.
  • SU (SARETT GLUCOSE OXIDASE UNIT) - A unit of glucose oxidase activity is defined as that quantity of enzyme which will cause the uptake of a specific amount of oxygen per minute in a scientific setting. Usually associated with digestive enzymes.
  • GDU (GELATIN DIGESTING UNIT) - A dosage measure for the pain and inflammation reducing supplement bromelain. Potencies of bromelain are based on GDUs or MCUs (milk clotting units). One GDU equals 1.5 MCU. Usually associated with digestive enzymes.

Other measurements of enzyme activity;

  • Alpha-Galactosidase-GALU (Galactosidase units)
  • Amylase-DU (Dextrinizing Units)
  • Catalase - Baker Units
  • Cellulase - CU (Cellulase unit)
  • Glucoamylase - AG (Amyloglucosidase Units)
  • Hemicellulase - HCU (Hemicellulase Units)
  • Invertase - INVU (Invertase Activity unit)
  • Lactase - LacU (Lactase unit)
  • Lipase - FCCFIP (Federation Internationale Pharmceutique)
  • Maltase - DP (Degrees of Diastatic Power)
  • Pectinase - AJDU (Apple Juice Depectinizing Units)
  • Phytase - PU Phytase Units
  • Protease-HUT (Hemoglobin Unit Tyrosine base)
  • Xylanase - XU (Xylanase Units)

Also it is important to note if there are fillers on the label. Fillers can include leftover fibers, cellulose and provide no value whatsoever.

In summary, digestive enzymes stay within the gastrointestinal tract and help us absorb food more efficiently. Systemic enzymes work inside us on every level and in every body tissue. The fibrinolytic enzymes in a high quality product act as "sentinels" within the bloodstream and around our connective tissue. They track down blood clots as they begin to form and break them up before they can do us any damage.


  1. http://www.wholehealthmd.com/news/viewarticle/1,1513,1168,00.html
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