One may wonder where the enzyme components in enzyme supplements are derived. Well, there are actually three major sources of enzymes: plant enzyme, animal enzymes, and microbial enzymes. But just to provide a little more information on enzymes, enzymes have actually other industrial uses. Enzymes are used in tanning leather, processing dairy products, and are present in detergents. Also, enzymes are responsible for turning grape juice into wine
Majority of all enzymes are hydrolytic in action, meaning they react with water. Plant enzymes are naturally derived from plants. For example Papain, a proteolytic enzyme derived from the latex of papaya, and Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme derived from the juice of pineapple.
Animal enzymes are enzymes derived from the pancreas, liver, or stomach of animals such as pigs, oxen, and cows. Animal enzymes resemble that of humans and are therefore prescribed by medical doctors for patients with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. An example of such prescription enzyme is Pancreatin, a pancreatic enzyme harvested from the pancreas of pigs.
Microbial enzymes are enzymes derived from micro-organisms and are produced through fermentation of these organisms. Microbial enzymes include the fungal and bacterial amylases, diastases, and others. Most enzyme supplements are made from plant and microbial enzymes. It is primarily because enzymes from these sources have broader ranges of pH, temperature, and substrate specificities. Not only can these enzymes work in the gastrointestinal system of mammals but they are most stable throughout the digestive tract. Meaning, these enzymes are safe and can be distributed without prescriptions.
Animal enzymes, on the other hand, need to be enterically coated for it to be able to reach the stomach without losing its potency. Moreover, animal enzymes have lower range of pH, similar to amylase. Amylase is the enzyme present in our saliva. It is responsible for the initial break down of food. As we chew our food, amylase begins its work by breaking down carbohydrates present in our foods. For example, when a person chew carbohydrate foods like in the case of eating bread rice, the food tastes sweeter.
Moreover, there are a variety of enzymes that can be derived from plants and from the fermentation of micro organisms, whereas, animal enzymes such as Pancreatin can only offer limited kinds of enzymes, particularly protease, lipase, and amylase. Plant and microbial enzymes offer protease, lipase, amylase, peptidase, glucomaylase, malt diastase, invertase, lactase, cellulase, phytase, alpha-galatocidase, hemicellulase, and pectinase. Suffice it to say, plant and microbial enzymes are not only safe but greatly beneficial.
Another advantage of plant and microbial enzymes over animal enzymes is the production costs. The production of these animal enzymes could prove to be costly since there is little amount of enzyme that may be harvested from an animal at a time. Moreover, by the standards of few people, the process of harvesting enzymes and hormones from animal organs and glands is inhumane.
Enzymes derived from plants and from the fermentation of micro organisms, on the other, can be produced by the many with fewer expenses.