The 7 Best Digestive Enzymes of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Ease tummy troubles and support digestion with these supplements

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First Look

Best Overall: Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra at Amazon

"Gluten-free and made without common allergens, these capsules are an aid in reducing bloating and encouraging healthy digestion."

Best Budget: Now Super Enzymes at Amazon

"If fats, carbs, and protein are staples in your diet, pair one capsule with a meal to boost digestion."

Best Vegan: HealthForce Enzymes at thrivemarket.com

"Vegans can rejoice in finding capsules tailored for them, as HealthForce's formula is packed with 15 plant-sourced enzymes."

Best with Probiotics: Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes at Amazon

"Get on the fast track towards better digestion with an enzyme, prebiotic, and probiotic blend so you can bid adieu to bloating."

Best with Stomach-Soothing Herbs: Hum Flatter Me at Amazon

"HUM Nutrition is confident you'll see results on your first day of taking the capsule, from better digestion to a flatter stomach."

Best for Lactose Intolerance: Lactaid Fast Act Chewable at Amazon

"If dairy is a must, or you don't always know when you'll come across it when out, in steps Lactaid to combat lactose intolerance."

Best for Veggie-Associated Gas: Enzymedica at Amazon

"Digestive support for vegan and raw diets in an all-natural formula."

When your body is functioning properly, it naturally produces digestive enzymes to help digestion by breaking down and absorbing nutrients. These digestive enzymes are naturally produced by the pancreas, which secretes a specific enzyme to break down each macronutrient: amylases to break down carbs, lipases for fats, and proteases for proteins.

However, the body isn’t always able to produce enough to keep up. The result is discomfort in the form of bloating, gas, and digestive distress. A common digestive enzyme deficiency is lactase, which helps break down lactose, or the sugar found in milk. Another common deficiency is an absence of alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down the carbohydrates found in legumes and beans.

Often, the solution is digestive enzymes supplements readily available over the counter. These can be an effective and reliable treatment for various gastrointestinal concerns, like IBS, low stomach acid, or age-related enzyme insufficiency. Still, there is limited research to support adding enzymes as an overall digestive solution, and much of the research to date is done on prescription-only supplements.

Keep in mind: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.

Here, the best digestive enzymes:

Best Overall: Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra

Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra

Courtesy of Amazon

Each serving of Pure Encapsulations' Digestive Enzymes Ultra provides 391 milligrams of the proprietary enzyme blend, which includes 13 digestive enzymes, including protease, lipase, and amylase. This well-balanced blend assists in the digestion of fats, carbohydrates, dairy, and fibers, helping to promote optimal nutrient absorption.

Like all Pure Encapsulations, this high-quality digestive enzyme is free of wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary excipients.

Best Budget: Now Super Enzymes

 Now Foods Super Enzymes

Courtesy of Amazon

With double bottles comes double the digestive system-boosting power. Now Super Enzymes is an excellent choice that is GMP and UL-Certified, so you can rest easy buying in bulk and saving money.

These capsules are formulated to break down fats, carbs, and proteins, optimize nutrient availability, and support healthy digestion overall. The blend contains Betaine HCL, Ox Bile Extract, Papaya Fruit Powder, Pancreatin (a source of amylase, protease, and lipase), Bromelain, Acid Stable Protease, Papain, and Cellulase. Papain, an enzyme found in papaya fruit, helps to break down a variety of proteins.

Best Vegan: HealthForce Enzymes

HealthForce SuperFoods Digestion Enhancement Enzymes

Courtesy of Thrive Market

HealthForce SuperFoods' Digestion Enhancement Enzymes offer a comprehensive and potent array of enzymes for optimized digestion and absorption of all types of foods and nutrients. Each enzyme has a specific purpose, and none are wasted in this 100 percent plant-based formula.

Digestion Enhancement Enzymes focus on the quality, pH range, and wide spectrum of enzymes. Vegans can rejoice in finding capsules tailored for them, as HealthForce's formula is packed with 15 plant-sourced enzymes. Each serving of four capsules contains a mix of proteases, amylase, acid stable protease, glucoamylase, cellulase, peptidase, lactase, lipase, alpha-galactosidase, pectinase, bromelain, papain, hemicellulose, invertase, and xylanase.

Best with Probiotics: Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes

No need to avoid hard to digest foods anymore, thanks to Zenwise Health’s Advanced Multi Enzyme System that may help you digest fried, spicy, raw, and processed foods, plus dairy and acidic fruits and veggies. It may relieve gas, bloating, and discomfort when taken before meals.

The formula features a variety of enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics, plus turmeric, ginger, green papaya, inulin, apple pectin, bladderwrack, fennel, and wakame to support gut health and stomach comfort. The specific addition of prebiotics and probiotics (L-Acidophilus, L-Plantarum, L-Salivarius) promotes healthy gut bacteria, which benefits the overall digestive system.

Best with Stomach-Soothing Herbs: Hum Flatter Me

Hum’s formula of 18-full spectrum enzymes helps decrease bloating and improves digestion. The proprietary and potent enzyme blend down proteins, carbs, fiber, lactose, and fats. The vegan capsules also contain ginger, fennel, and peppermint, functional foods that evidence shows can enhance digestion.

Flatter Me results from a year-long research project, during which the company analyzed food habits and choices to develop the perfect enzyme for a flatter stomach. (Read: No more bloat.) These vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-GMO capsules are packed with pure and potent nutrients. The result is better digestion, less bloat, and, yes, a flatter stomach.

Best for Lactose Intolerance: Lactaid Fast Act Chewable

If dairy is a must, or you don't always know when you'll come across it when out, in steps Lactaid to combat lactose intolerance. The key to combating a lactose intolerance is using a lactase supplement, which helps break down the hard-to-digest sugars.

When taken right before a lactose-laden meal, these chewable tablets act like the natural enzyme lactase and prevent the common tummy troubles like gas, bloating, and diarrhea that plague many dairy lovers. The fast-acting chewable supplement means there are no longer obstacles between you and your fave dairy, so bring on the ice cream, milkshakes, and cheese.

The convenient, individually-wrapped supplements are certified kosher and suitable for adults and children ages 4 and up.

Best for Veggie-Associated Gas: Enzymedica

Veggie Gest

If you're looking for digestive support for vegan and raw diets in an all-natural formula, try this supplement from Enzymedica. The high-potency capsules provide 12 powerful enzymes to help digest sugars, fibers, and proteins from beans, grains, raw vegetables, and other carbohydrates that create digestive discomfort and gas.

One capsule per meal offers relief and digestive support. The multiple, fast-acting Thera-blend enzymes work throughout the digestive system offering consistent relief. The full list of enzymes includes amylase, alpha-galactosidase, glucoamylase, cellulase, protease, maltase, lactase, invertase, lipase, pectinase with phytase, hemicellulose, and xylanase.

Final Verdict

The top recommendation for a general, all-encompassing digestive enzyme is Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra (view at Amazon). If lactose and dairy products are the primary cause of discomfort and irregular digestion, Lactaid (view at Amazon) is the top choice. No matter what, consult your physician and ask about possible contraindications.

What to Look for in Digestive Enzymes

Active Ingredients:

There are many specialized digestive enzymes to match whatever your system lacks. If dairy is problematic, then a lactase supplement should be your go-to. 

It’s fairly easy to recognize different digestive enzymes and their function. For example, proteases break down proteins, lipases break down lipids (or dietary fat), and amylases break down carbs.

Usage:

Digestive enzymes are most commonly used for gastrointestinal issues like IBS, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis. Depending on your health concerns, you'll want to look for a digestive enzyme that suits your specific needs. Many will indicate which condition they're best used for on their bottle. If you're unsure, consult your healthcare provider for guidance.

Form:

Most digestive enzymes can be found in capsule form. However, you can find them in gummy and droplet form as well. If you prefer not to swallow full capsules, these alternative options may be best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the difference between a probiotic and a digestive enzyme?

    Probiotics are a type of supplement that offers beneficial bacteria that can improve the flora of the gut, whereas digestive enzymes provide exogenous enzymes that help the body to digest proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber found in foods that we consume.

    Some physicians, such as Orville Kolterman, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Pendulum, recommend probiotics. He states, “Some people who believe they need a digestive enzyme, because of regular stomach aches or other GI problems, would likely benefit from a probiotic. Probiotics are shown to replenish and re-establish the bacteria in the gut to help the body break down fiber and restore normal digestive function. When buying a probiotic, or digestive enzyme, always look for clinically proven solutions and consult a medical professional before taking.”

  • What's the difference between prescription and over-the-counter digestive enzymes?

    Over-the-counter digestive enzymes are an option for people seeking to improve their digestion, decrease bloat, or alleviate potential side effects of hard-to-digest foods like dairy and beans. Prescription digestive enzymes are used for people who have pancreatic insufficiencies, such as those with pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis.

  • Do digestive enzymes improve digestion?

    Studies suggest supplementing with digestive enzymes in patients with functional dyspepsia (a.k.a indigestion) with symptoms that may aid in the digestive process. Using digestive enzymes may lead to the alleviation of symptoms associated with undigested and poorly absorbed nutrients. This study also suggests that digestive enzyme supplementation enhances the normal actions of digestive enzymes during the gastric phase of food digestion. 

What Experts Say

“If a person has an absence of digestive enzymes, they may become malnourished, experience a shortage of essential vitamins, and struggle with GI problems. For example, an enzyme called lactase normally breaks down lactose, when a person eats dairy and turns it into energy. If a person is lactate deficient, they can’t absorb lactose which can lead to bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms.”—David Schwimmer, MD, gastroenterologist at Florida Digestive Health Specialists

Why Trust Verywell Health?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements, including digestive enzymes. I spent time reviewing the most current research on digestive enzyme supplementation, and I looked at multiple brands and products. I believe the supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands that are devoted to product purity and are composed of high-quality ingredients. —Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Seasoned health writer Jennifer Nied also contributed to this article.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Valussi M. Functional foods with digestion-enhancing propertiesInt J Food Sci Nutr. 2012;63 Suppl 1:82-89. doi:10.3109/09637486.2011.627841

  3. Majeed M, Majeed S, Nagabhushanam K, Arumugam S, Pande A, Paschapur M, et al. Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of a multienzyme complex in patients with functional dyspepsia: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Med Food. 2018;21(11):1120-1128. doi:10.1089%2Fjmf.2017.4172

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