Last update: June 11, 2024

7 minute read

The Health Benefits of Digestive Enzymes

Explore the health benefits of digestive enzymes. Discover how they can optimize digestion, alleviate digestive issues, and contribute to overall wellness.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Jacquie Leone, NMD, HN

Learn more about our editorial standards

Are you feeling sluggish and bloated despite eating a whole-food diet? Perhaps you struggle to make time for home cooking and rely on processed food and ready-made meals.

In both cases, a digestive enzyme supplement like our VitaRx Enzyme Formula may help you get the most nutrition out of your food! Digestive enzymes are protein chains naturally produced in the body and secreted by the mouth, stomach, and pancreas. Here are the top five health benefits of digestive enzymes.

Key takeaways

  • Alleviates common digestive issues like bloating and cramping
  • Eases symptoms of food intolerance and may help with conditions like IBS
  • Aids in the absorption of dietary protein for muscle growth

    What are digestive enzymes?

    These biochemical warriors wield their catalyst powers, activating and accelerating the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber in your gastrointestinal tract. They ensure optimal nutrient absorption, giving you the energy to conquer your day with gusto.

    While they're so small that we can't see them and might not think about them regularly, digestive enzymes are critical components of our gut health. Our general gut health impacts our wellness and quality of life more than we might notice at times.

    When we have a good microbiota balance, our bodies perform better and feel better. Without that balance, we may feel tired and may have digestive issues. Digestive enzymes play a big part in maintaining that balance.

    How does digestive enzyme activity work?

    The minute you start chewing your food, enzymes start to break it down and ensure optimal nutrient absorption. They target specific macromolecules—protein, carbohydrates, fats, or dietary fiber—and digest them into small, absorbable molecules that can enter your bloodstream.

    Enzymes ensure greater bioavailability of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars to help you produce energy efficiently and feel your best! A variety of digestive enzymes target different nutrients (it's important to note that not all of the following are naturally produced in the human body):

    • Amylase, glucoamylase, lactase, maltase, invertase, and alpha-galactosidase digest carbohydrates into sugars
    • Protease enzymes like pepsin, trypsin, papain, and bromelain digest large protein molecules into usable amino acids and peptide molecules.
    • Lipase breaks fats down into fatty acids for easy absorption
    • Cellulase is responsible for breaking down indigestible fiber, but it's not normally produced in the human body
    • Phytase breaks down the anti-nutrient phytic acid to ensure optimal mineral absorption, but it's not normally produced in the human body
    VitaRx Tip

    If you have an enzyme deficiency, it can negatively affect food digestion, which causes common symptoms like bloating and cramping.


    1. Supports digestive function

    Poor digestion can irritate your digestive tract and cause other issues. They can include issues like bloating, cramping, gas, and constipation.

    A 2014 study on digestive problems had them consume a dose of either the drug domperidone or a vegetarian enzyme supplement for five days. Both dosage treatments reduced digestive symptoms, but the digestive enzyme complex reduced abdominal pain more effectively.

    2. Reduces food intolerances

    Consuming a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement might help alleviate symptoms of food intolerance like nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, weight gain, and other side effects. In addition, a combination of digestive enzymes, molecules, and nutrients may even help lessen symptoms of digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), although more research is needed.

    For example, research shows supplementing with the enzymes lactase and beta-galactosidase may reduce digestive symptoms caused by an intolerance to lactose from dairy products.

    3. May enhance muscle protein synthesis

    Research suggests that enzymes have the potential to enhance the body's muscle protein synthesis by increasing the absorption of dietary protein. Digestive enzymes support the breakdown of dietary protein into the amino acid building blocks needed for optimal lean muscle growth or muscle protein synthesis (MPS).

    For example, a study looked at men who took 50 g of whey protein along with a blend of protease enzymes. Promisingly, total serum amino acid levels were much higher in those who took the digestive enzymes, indicating improved protein absorption.

    4. Reduces inflammation

    Research suggests certain digestive enzymes may soothe pain and inflammation in the body by breaking down inflammatory molecules, although the exact mechanisms aren't well studied yet. When the enzymatic activity has an inhibitory effect on these models, it can prevent associated pain and discomfort.

    Beyond that, enzymatic activity can also promote the body's antioxidant capacity. For example, a 2015 study in the Arthritis Journal found that the protein-digesting enzymes bromelain and trypsin were effective at soothing painful osteoarthritis in the knee as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

    Research has also found protein enzymes:

    • Reduce pain and swelling after a minor surgery
    • Minimize exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage

    5. Enhanced nutrient absorption

    By breaking down macronutrients into their building blocks, digestive enzymes promote optimal absorption of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. This may help address nutritional deficiencies and support overall health.

    Signs of digestive enzyme insufficiency)

    If you experience digestive enzyme deficiency, it can negatively affect your quality of life and overall wellness, causing a few common symptoms and issues. Optimal digestive enzyme activity and production ensure that you obtain all the nutrient building blocks needed for a healthy body and mind. However, levels decline with age and are also affected by:

    • Eating a diet high in processed foods and low in raw fruits and vegetables
    • Digestive conditions
    • Low stomach acid
    • Stress
    • An imbalance in the gut microbiome
    • Pancreatic disease
    • Certain medications

    Signs of insufficient digestive enzyme activity and production may include gas, bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, dull skin and hair, and low mood.

    At VitaRx, we believe taking a comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement with meals could alleviate some of the pressure on your digestive organs and minimize unpleasant digestive symptoms.

    VitaRx Tip

    Before you try a new over-the-counter supplement or wellness product, discuss it with your healthcare provider or dietitian, particularly if you have a condition like pancreatitis, IBS, or malnutrition.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the health benefits of digestive enzymes.

    Final thoughts

    In conclusion, digestive enzymes are essential for optimal gut health and overall well-being. These enzymes, produced naturally in the body and found in certain plant foods, play a crucial role in breaking down macromolecules like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and dietary fiber into smaller, absorbable molecules.

    By doing so, they enhance nutrient absorption and improve the bioavailability of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars.



    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

     Dr. Jacquie Leone avatar

    Dr. Leone holds a BA in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and board certification in holistic nutrition. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Leone has developed and currently teaches science and nutrition courses for a nationally accredited institution. She specializes in chronic illness, gastrointestinal dysregulation, inflammatory conditions, and mental health. Her unique approach combines the wisdom of Eastern medicine with the technology and science of Western medicine, offering an integrative approach heavily focused on functional medicine.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

    Related posts

    While you're at it, here are some other relevant articles you might be interested in.

    See all blog posts

    Get your personalized vitamin recommendations in less than
    5 minutes.

    Take the Health Quiz

    Get your personalized vitamin recommendations in less than
    5 minutes.

    Take the Health Quiz