Types of enzyme supplements

Supplemental enzymes fall into one of two categories, digestive or systemic formulations. Systemic enzymes include every health condition besides digestion, but tend to concentrate on inflammation, cardiovascular and immune health.

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The History of Enzyme Supplements

Dr. Jokochi Takamine

The use of enzymes for dietary supplements began with a young Japanese immigrant, Jokochi Takamine.

Born in Takaoka, present-day Toyama Prefecture, in November 1854, Takamine spent his childhood in Kanazawa, capital of present-day Ishikawa Prefecture in central Honshu. Considering his background, it is no surprise that he became an inventor in the world of koji: His father was a doctor; his mother a member of a family of sake brewers.

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Formulating A Custom Enzyme or Probiotic-Based Supplement Product

Why Customize?

The demand for condition-specific supplement products is ever increasing. We understand that your product line is designed for a variety of people of different ages, cultures, eating habits and dietary restrictions. While a broad spectrum digestive enzyme formula will appeal to the masses, you may be considering a formula geared toward those with food intolerance such dairy or gluten sensitivity. Perhaps you would like to offer a product with systemic benefits, such as cardiovascular or inflammatory support.

At Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, we reject the notion of a “one-size-fits-all” product formulation. We’re committed to helping you achieve a formulation that fits the exact performance benefits your customers are seeking.

It takes extensive knowledge and experience working with enzymes and/or probiotics in order to formulate an effective enzyme and/or probiotic based supplement. Specific expertise is needed in order to formulate a blend that utilizes ingredients and enzymes that are complementary, while taking care to avoid ingredients that may detract from the efficacy of the enzymes. At Deerland, our staff is highly experienced in working specifically with enzymes and probiotics. Our research and development team invests significant effort in developing technologies that will be compatible and complementary to our enzyme and probiotic-based supplements.

With our no-cost YourBlend® service, we’ll work with you to develop a customized enzyme or probiotic formulation for the specific performance benefits you seek in your nutritional supplement product.

Do-It-Yourself Formulating Tool

YB bottle204Start building your enzyme or probiotic-based supplement with Deerland’s online formulator.
The interactive tool lets you try your hand at formulating your own product concept. Choose your own ingredients, quantities, and delivery system.
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Probiotics 101

The Microbiome

It may be hard to imagine, but our bodies are home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms…this means that the bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s cells 10 to 1! You are more bacteria than you are…well, “you”. The majority of these bacteria reside in the gut, and are roughly 70% “good” or healthy bacteria, and 30% “bad” bacteria. Most of the gut flora is found in the colon, or large intestine, the last part of the digestive tract.

The gut flora performs a variety of functions that are important for health. In fact, 70% of our immune cells are located in the digestive tract, making the health of the digestive tract critical to overall health. A healthy and well-balanced gut flora facilitates digestion, protects us from pathogens, provides vitamins and nutrients and helps form the immune system.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are those bacteria that are often referred to as “good”, “friendly” or “beneficial” bacteria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “a living microorganism which, when administered in adequate amounts, confers health benefits to the host.” Probiotic bacteria may be consumed in foods or supplements. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi. When consumed, probiotics are able to thrive in the intestinal environment and provide benefits that aid in digestion and support normal bowel function.

Categories of Probiotics
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics, and they all have different benefits. The name of a bacterium will tell you its genus, species and particular strain. For example:

Lactic Acid-Production Bacteria (LAB)

The most well-known probiotic bacteria are the lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB) Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Lactobacillus is a lactic acid producing bacteria that resides and functions in the small intestines, while Bifidobacteria reside and function in the large intestines. In addition to producing lactic acid, bifidobacteriaproduce acetic acid which reduces growth of yeasts and molds. In addition to bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, there are other beneficial LAB strains such as Streptococcus thermophiles.

Spore forming bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus coagulans are a diverse group of very hardy bacteria, characterized by their ability to form endospores to protect themselves in varying conditions, such as high temperatures and the acidic environment of the gut. The Bacillus subtilis species of microorganism has been known for almost 100 years, having first been isolated and described in 1915. It is considered to be a normal inhabitant of the gut in animals and humans

Probiotics are typically bacteria, but there are also types of yeasts that function as probiotics, such as Saccharomyces boulardii.

Benefits of Probiotics
Dozens of different probiotic bacteria have been shown to have health benefits. And within each group, there are many different species, and each species has many strains. Different probiotic strains affect different health conditions.
For example, studies have found particular benefits associated with many of the LABs:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – Maintains integrity of intestinal walls
  • Lactobacillus fermentum – Helps neutralize toxic products made during digestion, promotes a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – The “travel probiotic“- found to be effective in reducing occurrences of traveler’s diarrhea
  • Bifidobacteria bifidum – Promotes healthy digestion in both small and large intestines; especially helpful for proper digestion of dairy
  • Bifidobacteria longum – Helps crowd out bad bacteria, helps neutralize everyday toxins in the gut, breaks down carbohydrates without producing excess gas

Similarly, spore-forming probiotic bacteria have demonstrated the ability to crowd out bad bacteria for a more balanced gut flora, and increase immune reaction of intestinal cells. For example, the Bacillus subtilis strain exhibits a wide range of probiotic benefits, including:

  • Produces many enzymes, several of which help break down food including plant materials the human body can’t digest
  • Has been shown to inhibit the growth of H. pylori, an organism associated with the occurrence of ulcers Has beneficial effects on the immune system
  • Produces some fungicidal compounds, which control fungal pathogens such as Candida

Measuring Potency
The potency of probiotics is measured in colony forming units (CFU). CFUs are derived by allowing the organisms to grow on appropriate media under controlled conditions and then counting the number of colonies. Typical counts may be in the range of 5-10 billion cells per serving. Because not all the bacteria will remain viable when they arrive at their intended destination, manufactures tend to begin with higher doses of probiotic bacteria than is required to promote wellness. If an expiration date is applied to the label, the CFU count must reflect the number remaining at the end of the expiration date.

Refrigeration requirements vary amongst probiotic organisms, but generally cooler temperatures and dryer conditions will yield a longer shelf life. Spore-forming strains, such as the Bacillus genus, have a more stable shelf life, and are better suited to withstand environmental factors, allowing for greater potency when consumed.

Creating a Probiotic Supplement Formula
Each type and strain of probiotic, spore and non-spore forming, performs a different role with particular benefits in terms of digestion and immunity, as well as where in the GI tract they act. Multi-strain probiotic supplements provide a broad spectrum of benefits.

The guidelines established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) along with the World Health Organization (WHO) provide a superb “checklist” for evaluating a probiotic supplement product:

  • Genome Sequencing – Proper identification to the level of strain of all probiotics in the product, with deposit of all strains in an international culture collection
  • Physiological Testing – Characterization of each strain for traits important to its safety and function
  • Clinical Studies – Validation of health benefits in human studies, including identification of the quantity of the microorganism required to provide the benefit
  • Stability – Truthful and not misleading labeling of efficacy claims and content through the end of shelf life

Enzymes 101

What are Enzymes?

All biological reactions within human cells depend on enzymes—they are necessary to sustain life. They are not live organisms; they are actually proteins—long chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. All enzymes are proteins, but not all proteins are enzymes.

Enzymes are catalysts, which means they accelerate reactions in the body without being changed themselves in the process. Enzymes are very specific to what they catalyze. Each type of enzyme facilitates a different process in the body. They are highly efficient, as small amounts yield significant output. In fact, they may accelerate reactions by factors of a million or even more.

The human body produces many enzymes to facilitate digestion. Starting in the mouth, enzymes in the saliva begin the digestion process, and as the food we consume travels through the digestive tract, it is broken down by enzymes in the stomach, pancreas and finally the intestines. Enzymes are also naturally present in the actual food that we consume, and serve to help break down those specific foods.

Digestive Enzymes

The role of digestive enzymes is to break down food-derived fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller substances that our bodies can use. Because enzymes are specific to what reactions they will catalyze, there are different types of enzymes that facilitate the digestion of the various components of our food.

Carbohydrases are the category of enzymes that break down carbohydrates and fibers (oligosaccharides) into simple sugars. One of the most popular carbohydrase enzymes is alpha-galactosidase. It helps digest those carbs found in beans, such as raffinose and stachyose, that commonly cause gas. Lactase is another well-known carbohydrase enzyme; it converts lactose (milk sugar) into its component sugars (glucose and galactose) supporting digestion of dairy products for those with lactose intolerance. Another interesting carbohydrase enzyme is cellulose, because the body doesn’t produce this enzyme at all; this is an enzyme that breaks down the cell wall of plants, releasing the nutrients for the body to absorb. There are several other carbohydrases that target specific types of carbohydrates to digest. A more comprehensive list can be found on this list of carbohydrase enzyme functions.

Proteases are enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, and are also referred to as proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes are used to maximize digestion of proteins for improved nutrient uptake and reduced likelihood of the proteins causing an immune response that’s associated with certain food sensitivities. For example, gluten is a protein that many individuals have trouble tolerating. Enzymes that break down the peptide bonds of the gluten molecule minimize the digestive discomfort that can result from gluten consumption. Similarly, the whey protein found in dairy products and many sports supplement is a large protein that must be broken down in order to be absorbed and used by the body. Protease enzymes break down these large protein molecules so that the beneficial amino acids can be absorbed, and the smaller peptides will not cause digestive discomfort. There are several other proteases that target specific types of proteins to digest. A more comprehensive list can be found on this list of protease enzyme functions.

Lipases are enzymes that digest fats (lipids) into fatty acids and glycerol. Lipases break down triglycerides and improve fat utilization, supporting gall bladder function. Other types of hydrolytic enzymes provide health benefits; catalase is a potent antioxidant, and phytase helps with the absorption of minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. For more detailed information, see this comprehensive list of enzymes and their functions.

Systemic Enzymes

In addition to digestion, there are enzymes that provide benefits to other body systems. These systemic enzymes break down proteins to improve body functions such as blood flow and inflammatory response. The most important thing that systemic proteolytic enzymes do is to break down excess fibrin in your circulatory system and in other connective tissue, such as your muscles. These enzymes bring nutrients and oxygen-rich blood that remove the metabolic waste produced by inflammation and excess fibrin. Nattokinase and serratiopeptidase are two such enzymes that are commonly used to support joint and heart health. The plant-based enzymes bromelain and papain are also widely used for systemic applications.

Why are supplemental enzymes necessary?

Although the body produces its own digestive enzymes, it may not be enough. Anyone with lactose intolerance is likely not producing enough of the lactase enzyme to adequately digest dairy products. Plus, enzyme production decreases with age. This is often why so many people are not able to enjoy many of the same foods that they did when they were younger. In addition, during cooking and processing, the natural enzymes present in raw foods are denatured. There are few people that adhere to a mainly raw food diet. And even in the case of a raw-food, vegan diet, the body doesn’t produce the enzyme cellulase at all. This is an enzyme that breaks down the cell wall of plants, releasing the nutrients for the body to absorb. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are likely missing out on key nutrients from the plant-based foods they’re eating, and would most certainly benefit from an enzyme supplement.

Measuring Enzyme Activity

It’s important to understand that the potency of enzymes is not measured in the same way as other nutritional supplements. Enzymes are not measured by weight, so the number of milligrams of a product would not describe the true potency. Low potency enzymes may weigh as much as those with high potency, and fillers may add to the weight but not the effectiveness of an enzyme supplement. The determining factor of an enzyme product’s potency is its “activity” – the effect it has on proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Activity units” are the most commonly used measurement to determine potency because they identify how active the enzyme is. Enzyme activity is determined by various assays (test methods) that are performed under specific conditions.

Different enzymes use different units of measurement to determine potency. The national standards (testing methodologies) for determining enzyme potency are defined in the Food Chemical Codex (FCC).