Upcoming Issue Highlights
Home Subscribe Advertise Sourcebook Free Product Info Home

Beyond Digestion

Albion Minerals®

A continuously growing category, enzymes have a number of benefits in addition to aiding digestive health.

Enzymes are not a new concept; German physiologist Wilhelm Kühne first used the term in 1877. In 2012, the enzyme market is flourishing.According to the Nutrition Business Journal’s (NBJ) 2011 Supplement Business Report, digestive enzymes rank fourth of the top 100 nutritional supplements and make up four percent of the U.S. nutritional supplement market. Further, NBJ reported that the category has consistently grown from approximately $80 million in 2000 to $209 million in 2010.

“The demand for enzyme-based supplements has never been stronger, and despite a weak economy, this growth has been very consistent (two to three times market growth) over the past five years,” said Scott Ravech, CEO of Deerland Enzymes in Georgia.“While digestive health remains our largest category, we have also experienced significant growth in both systemic enzyme supplements and antioxidants. I expect this trend to continue in the coming years.” 

And while the market is growing for the enzyme category, Mike Smith, vice president of California-based Specialty Enzymes and Biotechnologies, noted that enzymes are becoming more popular due to word-of-mouth recommendations.

“Enzymes largely fly under the radar as far as mainstream media are concerned, which makes their continued growth a puzzle to some observers,” he said. “However, growth over the years is due in large part to the fact that enzymes are one dietary supplement you actually feel. This is particularly true of digestive enzymes where relief from indigestion, bloating and abdominal discomfort are clearly obvious. As a result, much of the growth can be attributed to word-ofmouth.” 

Digestive Benefits Plus 

The aging population is another reason for the growth in the enzyme market.According to Rodger Rohde, Jr., president of Triarco Industries, Inc. in New Jersey, people produce fewer of their own digestive enzymes as they get older, and as a result they tend to experience increased acid reflux, indigestion, gas, bloating, etc. 

In addition to benefiting the digestive tract, research has shown that enzymes can benefit a number of the body’s other systems. “While enzymes have been used for some time for immediate relief of symptoms such as indigestion or bloating caused by lactose intolerance, consumers are now learning that enzymes may plan an even bigger role in maintaining health,” explained Rohde.

Studies have shown that enzymes are beneficial for cardiovascular health, blood glucose levels and more inflammation.“Enzymes, specifically papain and bromelain, have also shown effectiveness in reducing inflammation and in topical skin treatments for the debridement of dead skin cells,” said Bret Wyant, vice president of sales for American Laboratories, Inc. in Nebraska.

Aminogen® from Triarco Industries can help reduce symptoms of incomplete protein digestion such as gas and bloating. Because Aminogen triples the rate of protein absorption1, it may also be helpful in maintaining amino acid levels that support healthy muscle. A clinical study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that Aminogen increased amino acid levels by 100 percent, key amino acid levels (BCAAs glutamine and arginine, collectively) by 250 percent and nitrogen retention—an indicator of protein absorption—by 32 percent. “This is important for muscle growth after exercise and lean muscle mass in aging adults,” said Rohde.

Aminogen is self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe), kosherand halal-certified. It is available as a powder for protein snacks, beverages and powders. In addition, because Aminogen is formulated to work with a wide range of pHs, it does not require an enteric coating.

So while digestive enzymes still dominate the category, systematic enzymes are growing more popular as well. “The systemic enzymes are an exciting area of investigation. They are predominantly protease enzymes,” explained Specialty Enzymes’ Smith. “One of the oldest and best known is bromelain, which is derived from the stem of pineapples. Newer protease enzymes include nattokinase (NattoSEB), serratiopeptidase (Peptizyme SP) and blended combinations that employ one or both of these with other proteases.These two enzymes, in particular, exhibit profound fibrinolytic as well as antiinflammatory activity. The potential for use in inflammatory and cardiovascular conditions is significant.2-6 Our own proprietary blend, Exclzyme EN, has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity as well as a significant reduction in C-reactive protein.” 

Peptizyme SP® is Specialty Enzymes’ most successful single enzyme.According to Smith, serratiopeptidase demonstrates proteolytic, fibrinolytic and anti-inflammatory activities when used as a systemic enzyme. It is used by itself and in combination with other enzymes as part of a blend.

Researchers Discover Key to Burning Fat Faster

Obesity enzymes involved in breaking down fat can now be manipulated to work three times harder by turning on a molecular switch recently observed by chemists at the University of Copenhagen. Being able to control this chemical on/off button could have massive implications for curing diseases related to obesity including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and even skin problems like acne. But the implications may be wider.

The results, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, suggest that the switch may be a common characteristic of many more enzymes. Since enzymes are miniscule worker molecules that control a vast variety of functions in cells, if the switches are standard, it may well be one of the most important discoveries in enzymology.Tripping their newfound switch resulted in tripling the working hours of lipase enzymes, from 15 percent of the time to 45 percent by the Copenhagen team.

“If many enzymes turn out to be switched on in the same way as the ones we’ve studied, this opens a door to understanding, and maybe curing, a wide range of diseases,” said professor Dimitrios Stamou, head of a multidisciplinary team of scientists at the Nanoscience Center and Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.

To perform their studies, the researchers chose a fat-degrading lipase enzyme model system in collaboration with Danish industrial enzyme producer Novozymes. They used ‘fat’ that would emit light each time the enzyme took a bite. This way they could monitor every catalytic cycle or single movement of work. To ensure realism the enzymes were placed on an artificial cell wall. An “in vivo like membrane system,” said Stamou.

“Natural enzymes live in cells.Looking at them in a non-native environment, would tell us as much as looking at a carpenter working in outer space wearing a space suit would tell us about builders,” explained Stamou. “Now that we have understood how to switch enzymes on and off, we could use this knowledge in the future both for curing diseases but also to design novel enzymes for industrial applications.” 

For more information, visit www.ku.dk/english.

The ThioZyme™ line of products from Deerland Enzymes offers a number of products that can benefit different areas of the body. Overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract results in abdominal discomfort, indigestion, constipation, muscle and joint pain.ThioZyme™YD is formulated to support optimal digestive tract function by promoting a normal population of yeast in the small intestine. ProHydrolase™ optimizes the way protein substrates, such as whey, soy, egg, etc., are turned into an amino acid combination that the body uses as building blocks to create muscle mass and recuperate muscles from physical activity.ThioZyme™AO is an enzyme-based antioxidant that replicates the body’s main antioxidant defense system and in doing so, regenerates the vitamins (C and E), and ThioZyme™GI helps promote normal digestive tract function by maintaining proper bacteria populations in the small intestine.


As consumers gain knowledge and understanding about enzymes and their various benefits, the demand for custom enzyme products grows.“Customization is key,” said Deerland Enzymes’ Ravech. “Simply put, our customers each have very specific ideas on what area of enzyme supplementation they would like to focus on—a ‘personalized’ approach. They look to companies like ours to either create the entire formulation or to help improve on a formula they provide to us. While some of these solutions are a single enzyme component in nature (typical of food intolerances like lactose or gluten), a multi-component approach has become the norm. In these instances, our customer(s) may want an all-enzyme blend, or move toward a more sophisticated approach, which may include some combination of enzymes, probiotics, prebioitcs, botanical, vitamins, minerals, etc.” 

Deerland Enzymes introduced a no-cost service called YourBlend®, which serves as a platform for its customers to customize the best enzyme supplement formulation for their specific needs.

Additionally, Smith noted that the demand for condition specific has grown as well.“The current trend for enzymes is to create conditionspecific products.For example, enzyme blends to address gluten or dairy sensitivities,” he explained. “With systemic enzymes, the trend tends to be geared toward joint health or cardiovascular health.” 

“Many manufacturers are starting to market their products into specific market segments, rather than making a one-product-fits-all enzyme product,” added Wyant, who noted that non- GMO and kosher-certified enzymes and ingredients have become the largest requested product specifications at American Laboratories.

Efficacy & Safety Issues 

Enzymes face a number of roadblocks during the manufacturing process.While they can have a long shelf life, many issues must be addressed. “One important issue with enzymes is that their activity can be affected by pH,” noted Triarco’s Rohde. “Some can be deactivated in the stomach, and never reach the small intestine where most nutrient absorption takes place.” 

Further, according to Smith, enzymes do not fare well in regard to heat, moisture and sunlight. “Enzymes are complex proteins that have a very intricate primary, secondary and tertiary structure,” he explained. “The active site on an enzyme is the portion that makes a change to another compound without changing itself. It requires very little to alter the active site and render the enzyme inactive.We call this denaturation.Fortunately, enzymes in dietary supplements tend to have very good stability and most companies are comfortable using a two-year shelf life.” 

Wyant also noted that consumers are concerned about the efficacy of the enzyme products they purchase. “With the influx of enzyme supplements on the market, consumers are starting to realize that sometimes the formulations containing many enzymes, each at low activity levels, may have far less effective benefits than a properly formulated product with only three or four enzymes.” 

Additionally, companies are putting emphasis on safety and quality assurance by implementing a number of Operation procedures, as well as becoming GMP certified. “GMP certification has had a positive impact on our industry; product development and marketing companies should insist on a manufacturer who is GMP certified,” said Ravech. “In doing so, you can be assured that the facility has undergone third-party audits to ensure compliance with GMP standards and operating procedures.” 

“As long as antacids like Tums and H2 blockers like Pepcid are profitable, there is little incentive for major pharmaceutical corporations to market digestive enzymes. The same applies to the systemic enzymes,” said Smith. “As a result, enzymes will continue to grow as they have over the past two decades by word-of-mouth, recommendations from health practitioners open to alternative medicine and publications in the natural products industry. Finally, growth will continue because enzymes produce results you can actually feel.”


1 Oben J., Kothari SC, Anderson ML. An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition June 2008; 5:10.

2 Fujita M et al. “Purification and characterization of a strong fibrinolytic enzyme (nattokinase) in the vegetable cheese natto, a popular soybean fermented food in Japan.” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications December 1993. 197 (3): 1340-1347. 

3 Pais, E. et al. Effects of nattokinase, a pro-fibrinolytic enzyme, on red blood cell aggregation and whole blood viscosity. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc.2006;35(1-2):139-42.

4 Fujita M, et al (September 1995). “Transport of Nattokinase across the rat intestinal tract.” Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin. 18 (9): 1194 – 1196.

5 Moriya N,Nakata M, et al. Intestinal absorption of serrapeptase in rats. Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 1994 Aug;20 ( Pt 1):101-8.

6 Tachibana M,Mizukoshi O,Harada Y, et al. A multicentre, double-blind study of serrapeptase versus placebo in post-antrotomy buccal swelling.Pharmatherapeutica 1984 Issue:8:526-30.


American Laboratories, Inc.,(402) 339-2494  

Deerland Enzymes, Inc., (800) 697-8179  Specialty Enzymes and Biotechnologies,(909) 613-1660  

Triarco Industries, Inc., (973) 942-5100

Albion Minerals®