What are digestive enzymes and why do we need them?

Enzymes are also known as biological catalysts – increasing the speed of a chemical reaction but without ever being used up in the process. Enzymes have active sites made up of amino acids which are responsible for binding to their specific substrate. Once bound, the substrate is turned into product and the enzyme is free to catalyse other molecules. 

Enzymes play a vital role in the digestion of food in the body by breaking down large molecules from the food we eat into smaller ones, allowing us to absorb the nutrients we need. Enzymes are present throughout the whole digestive process, they even make a part of the saliva in your mouth. Without enzymes, your body would be unable to process all the macronutrients of your food and this can lead to nutritional deficiencies or even food intolerance, such as in the case of lactose intolerance. According to Quinten et al., 2014 lack of proper digestion can lead to digestive issues including bloating and stomach pain as well as diarrhoea and constipation.

Bloated, Digestion, Constipation

Why might you need the help of digestive enzymes?

Like most proteins in the body, the production of enzymes gradually declines as you age leading to a reduction in the amount of enzymes available to digest your food (Laugier et al., 1991), multiple studies found that those above 65 years of age had significantly lower volumes of secretions and concentrations of lipase, chymotrypsin and amylase. In addition to this, inflammation in the gut, high growth of bad bacteria, and leaky gut can all contribute to a shortage of digestive enzymes.   

What are the different types of enzymes?

When it comes to digestive enzymes, there are many types to consider. It’s important to know the function of each enzyme to understand the benefits they may offer.

Digestive enzymes can be grouped into these categories, based on the type of substrate they breakdown:

  • Proteases (such as bromelain, pepsin and papain) – break down peptide bonds between within proteins into their amino acid constituents  allowing them to be absorbed and used in the body to build other proteins.
  • Lipases – break down fats into fatty acid and glycerol. They can then be used by the body where they are needed such as to build cell membranes or as signalling molecules.
  • Carbohydrases (such as amylase and lactase)  – break down carbohydrates including starch to their sugar molecules.

Enzyme Lock and Key

How to use digestive enzymes to your advantage

To get the most out of digestive enzymes, there must be something for them to break down. Enzymes need substrates to work so without food in your stomach, they have nothing to do. When digestive supplements should be taken depends on the type of food you’re trying to break down, for example lactase should be taken in combination with milk to break down lactose into simple sugars. Multiple studies indicate that digestive enzymes may be successful in alleviating common digestive complaints. Ran et al., supplemented cellulase, protease, amylase and pancreatin alongside Aspergillus oryzae and found it was successful in relieving bloating, belching and abdominal pain. 

Stability issues with supplemental enzymes

When formulating or choosing a dietary enzyme ingredient, it’s important to consider it’s stability in the digestive system. Many factors affect the efficacy of enzymes including: pH, temperature and physical agitation (shaking); it’s therefore important to consider the stability of the supplemental enzyme. To be effective, enzymes need to survive the harsh pH of the stomach in addition to variable temperatures, this may render some enzymes less effective or they could even be denatured or destroyed completely. One way to avoid this is to use microbe, fungal and plant derived enzymes which have shown to be stable at various pH levels and at broad temperature ranges. In addition, it was found that these enzymes may survive the harsh stomach environment, through “pre-digestion”. This is because plant and fungal supplemental enzymes mainly interact with substrate, undigested food, in the upper stomach before encountering pepsin and hydrochloric acid secretions in the lower region of the stomach, therefore they are not denatured before they catalyse their  intended substrate. Further research has suggested that enzyme supplements may become temporarily denatured or inactive in the lower stomach due to the low pH of 1.5-4, this may be reversible and enzyme activity bounces back once reaching the intestine due to the higher pH of 7-8.5 (Paliulis et al., 2016).


  1. Laugier R et al. Changes in pancreatic exocrine secretion with age: pancreatic exocrine secretion does decrease in the elderly 1991. DOI: 10.1159/000200762  
  2. Didier R et al. Understanding the gastrointestinal tract of the elderly to develop dietary solutions that prevent malnutrition 2015. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.4030
  3. Quinten T et al. Can the supplementation of a digestive enzyme complex offer a solution for common digestive problems? 2014. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/2049-3258-72-S1-P7
  4. Ran ZH, Yuan YZ, Li ZS, et al. The efficacy of Combizym in the treatment of Chinese patients with dyspepsia: a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled and cross-over study: Shanghai Combizym Clinical Cooperative Group. 2009. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-2980.2008.00361.x
  5. Paliulis E, Paketurytė V, Matulis D: Protease, amylase and lactase enzyme stability in Gastroval® capsules after incubation at acidic pH and elevated temperature. 2016. DOI:10.4172/2168-9652.1000211

Get a quote or speak to our technically qualified sales team to find out which enzyme will suit your requirements.


NIGEENZ000281 Alpha Galactosidase 10000 GAL/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000121 Alpha Galactosidase 25000 GALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000125 Alpha Galactosidase 50000 GALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000111 Alpha-Amylase 100000 SKB/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000115 Alpha-Amylase 160000 SKB/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000090 Alpha-Amylase 2500 SKB/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000095 Alpha-Amylase 5000 SKB/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000101 Alpha-Amylase 50000 SKB/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000131 Amyloglucosidase (AMG) 1000 AGU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000135 Amyloglucosidase (AMG) 600000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000151 Beta Glucanase 20000U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000201 Bromelain 1200 GDU/g Vegan (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000204 Bromelain 2000 GDU/g Vegan (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000202 Bromelain 2400 GDU/g Vegan (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000206 Bromelain 2500 GDU/g Vegan (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000207 Bromelain 3200 GDU/g Vegan (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000191 Bromelain 80 GDU/g Vegan 10:1 (Pineapple) (Ananas comosus)
NIGEENZ000209 Catalase 25000 CU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000208 Catalase 600 Baker/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000213 Cellulase (Trichoderma) 35000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000210 Cellulase (Trichoderma) 400 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000211 Cellulase (Trichoderma) 4000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000214 Chitinase 1000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000218 Chitinase 200 U/g ¤
NIGEENZ000221 Chymotrypsin 75USP/mg ¤
NIGEENZ000251 Collagenase 250000U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000271 Ficin (Vegetable Protease) (Ficus insipida) 250 BAPA/g Vegan (Allergen – Sulphites)
NIGEENZ000302 Glucoamylase (Amyloglucosidase AMG) 1000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000301 Glucoamylase (Amyloglucosidase AMG) 100000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000303 Glucose Oxidase 12000 GOU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000215 Hemicellulase 50000 CU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001705 Invertase (Sucrase) 0.15SU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001701 Invertase (Sucrase) 1000 SU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001711 Invertase (Sucrase) 10000 SU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000305 Invertase 1000 SU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000450 Lactase 10000 ALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000511.1 Lactase 100000 ALU/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000385 Lactase 300 ALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000401 Lactase 3000 ALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000402 Lactase 3500 ALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000501 Lactase 50000 ALU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000505 Lactase 65000 ALU/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000550 Lactoperoxidase 1000U/mg (Allergen – Milk) ¤
NIGEENZ000590 Lipase 1000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000605 Lipase 10000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000609 Lipase 100000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000609a Lipase 115000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000600b Lipase 200000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000600 Lipase 4000 FIP/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000600c Lipase 400000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000601 Lipase 5000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000608 Lipase 50000 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000585 Lipase 60 U/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000321 Maltase 12 DP/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000315 Maltase 250 DP/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000311 Maltase 500 DP/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000620 Nattokinase 10000 FU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000610 Nattokinase 2000 FU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000625 Nattokinase 20000 FU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ003001 Ox Bile Powder CP2010 ¤
NIGEENZ000811 Pancreatin 4XNF (Porcine) ¤
NIGEENZ000801 Pancreatin 4XNF Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ000913 Papain 15000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) (Allergen – Sulphites)
NIGEENZ000901 Papain 2000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) (Allergen – Sulphites)
NIGEENZ000915 Papain 30000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) (Allergen – Sulphites)
NIGEENZ000915sf Papain 30000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) SO2 <10ppm #
NIGEENZ000911 Papain 6000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) (Allergen – Sulphites)
NIGEENZ000918sf Papain 60000 USP-U/mg Vegan (Papaya) (Carica papaya) SO2 <10ppm #
NIGEENZ000921 Pectinase 300 Endo-PG/g Vegan
NIGEENZ000925 Pectinase 30000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001121 Pepsin 10000NF (1:10000) ¤
NIGEENZ001111 Pepsin 2000NF (1:2000) ¤
NIGEENZ001105 Pepsin 2500NF (1:2500) ¤
NIGEENZ001102 Pepsin 3000NF (1:3000) ¤
NIGEENZ001101 Pepsin 300NF (1:300) ¤
NIGEENZ001201 Phytase 3000 U/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001251.1 Prolyl-Oligopeptidase (Proline-Specific Endopeptidase) 580000 PPI/g Vegan (Fungal)
NIGEENZ001521 Protease (Fungal – Acid) 500 SAPU/g Vegan (Aspergillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001501 Protease 10000 HUT/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001495 Protease 12000 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001515 Protease 12500 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001470 Protease 1600000 HUT/g Vegan (Aspergillus sp.) SO2 <10ppm
NIGEENZ001490 Protease 200000 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001301 Protease 3 – 30000 HUT/g Vegan (Aspergillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001291 Protease 3 – 300000 HUT/g Vegan (Aspergillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001401 Protease 4.5 – 50000 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001480 Protease 400000 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001511 Protease 5000 HUT/g Vegan (Bacillus sp.)
NIGEENZ001601 Serrapeptase (Serratiopeptidase) Fermented 1600 U/mg Vegan – Export
NIGEENZ001603 Serrapeptase (Serratiopeptidase) Fermented 2000 U/mg Vegan – Export
NIGEENZ001605 Serrapeptase (Serratiopeptidase) Fermented 2200 U/mg Vegan – Export
NIGEENZ001607 Serrapeptase (Serratiopeptidase) Fermented 2400 U/mg Vegan – Export
NIGEENZ001650 Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) 14000 IU/g Vegan
NIGEENZ001655 Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) 50 IU/g Bovine ¤
NIGEENZ001651 Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) 8000 IU/g Bovine ¤
NIGEENZ001751 Trypsin 250USP/mg ¤