The 9 Best Digestive Enzymes of 2020, 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

"The proprietary enzyme blend contains thirteen key enzymes including protease, lipase, lactase, and amylase."

Best Hypoallergenic: Thorne Research Plantizyme® Plant-Based Enzymes at Amazon

"Free from gluten and other major allergens like eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, yeast, shellfish, and fish."

Best Budget: NOW Supplements Plant Enzymes at Amazon

"The proprietary enzyme blend also contains two proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes derived from fruit."

Best Chewable: Garden of Life Dr. Chewable Enzymes at Amazon

"Each chewable tablet also contains 125mg of acacia fiber, a soluble dietary fiber that can help to promote regularity."

Best Vegan: HealthForce Enzymes at Thrive Market

"Certified Vegan blend contains 15 enzymes that support digestion."

Best with Probiotics: Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes at Amazon

"A combination of plant-based enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics."

Best with Stomach-Soothing Herbs: Rainbow Light Advanced Enzyme System at Walgreens

"Powerful plant-based enzymes and a specialized food and herb blend designed to support digestion."

Best for Lactose Intolerance: Lactaid at Amazon

"A quick fix for people with lactose intolerance."

Best for Veggie-Associated Gas: Enzymedica Bean Assist at Amazon

"Enjoy high-fiber, veggie-based foods with less gas."

Digestive enzymes are naturally produced and secreted by our bodies to help us digest the food that we eat and facilitate the absorption of broken-down nutrients. They're created and excreted throughout the digestive system—including the mouth, stomach, and small intestine—however, the majority of enzymes come from your pancreas. Sometimes the body is unable to make enough digestive enzymes. This can slow digestion and result in uncomfortable bloating, gas, and digestive distress.

Supplementation with digestive enzymes, when indicated, has proved to be a reliable treatment for various gastrointestinal concerns. However, there is limited research to back usage of enzymes as an overall digestive solution and much of the research to date is done on prescription-only supplements. Over-the-counter digestive enzymes may be a good option if you have an enzyme deficiency, IBS, low stomach acid, or age-related enzyme insufficiency, but as always, double-check with your physician before supplementing. They're available in many formulations specific to certain enzymes or concerns.

Here, the best digestive enzymes.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra

If you're looking for a comprehensive digestive enzyme that contains a variety of enzymes from high-quality ingredients at a moderate price, Pure Encapsulations is the best option. The non-GMO product contains a blend of digestive enzymes offering specific support for digestion of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and dairy.

Many digestive enzymes contain allergens such as soy, fish, or wheat. Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra is made only with hypoallergenic, vegetarian ingredients and is Certified Gluten-Free. The proprietary enzyme blend contains thirteen key enzymes including protease, lipase, lactase, and amylase. In fact, the blend contains three proteases with different pH levels which aid in protein digestion at different points of the digestive system.

Good to Know

It's important to note that over-the-counter digestive enzymes are not regulated by the FDA. If you don’t have a diagnosed enzyme deficiency, you may want to consider removing the food that causes digestive distress rather than taking a pill. For best practice, you should consult with your doctor before adding digestive enzymes to your diet.

Best Hypoallergenic: Thorne Research Plantizyme® Plant-Based Enzymes

Thorne is known for making products with the purest possible ingredients, and their Plantizyme plant-based enzyme is no exception. The hypoallergenic product is free from gluten and other major allergens like eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, dairy, yeast, shellfish, and fish.

The powerful plant-based enzymes are derived from Aspergillus species, a type of mold. Each two-capsule serving contains a variety of enzymes including amylase, protease, lipase, cellulase, and lactase. In addition to sourcing high-quality ingredients, Thorne invests in clean manufacturing practices. The reputable brand runs thorough testing, completing four rounds of testing while competitors usually test only once or twice.

Good to Know

Digestive enzymes are named based on their function. For example, proteases break down proteins, lipases break down lipids (or dietary fat), and amylases break down carbs.

Best Budget: NOW Supplements Plant Enzymes

It can be challenging to find a comprehensive digestive enzyme that's affordable and made from high-quality ingredients. The budget-friendly NOW Supplements Plant Enzymes is Quality GMP-Assured and provides a multi-enzyme blend of proteases, amylase, lipase, cellulase, and lactase. Each bottle contains 240 vegetarian capsules that are soy-free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and keto-friendly.

The proprietary enzyme blend also contains two proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes derived from fruit: bromelain and papain. Bromelain is a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme that comes from the stem of pineapple. It has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with inflammatory bowel diseases.  Papain, from the papaya fruit, is also a powerful plant-based proteolytic enzyme and is commercially used as a meat tenderizer. Note that this product is not appropriate for those with allergies to papaya or pineapple.

Best Chewable: Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Digest Chewable Enzymes

If you have trouble swallowing pills, or simply prefer a chewable supplement, Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Digest Chewable Enzymes are a great option. Formulated by Dr. Perlmutter, an expert in the human microbiome, these full-spectrum digestive enzymes feature 13 powerful digestive enzymes—including papain, bromelain, lactase, phytase, beta-glucanase, and lipase— blended with a whole food mix of 29 organic fruits and veggies. Each chewable tablet also contains 125mg of acacia fiber, a soluble dietary fiber that can help to promote regularity.

The delicious tropical fruit flavor adds hints of pineapple and banana without the extra sugar, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors. The supplement is USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Certified Vegan. It's also gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

Best Vegan: HealthForce SuperFoods® Digestion Enhancement Enzymes

HealthForce Superfoods Digestion Enhancement Enzymes
Courtesy of Thrive Market.

Finding supplements that fit into a vegan lifestyle can be challenging. Many tablets contain fillers that aren’t vegan-friendly, and capsule supplements are often made from gelatin. HealthForce Superfoods® Digestion Enhancement Enzymes are a plant-based solution that can help support digestion for vegans.

The Certified Vegan blend contains 15 enzymes that support digestion of proteins, fats, and carbs—including hard-to-digest carbs found in many vegan dishes, such as legumes and beans. It’s perfect for a vegan diet with lots of high fiber foods that can cause gas and bloat.

The kosher and gluten-free supplement is made using the highest manufacturing standards. The family-owned and operated facility is cGMP-compliant, as well as peanut and tree nut-free.

Best with Probiotics: Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes Plus Prebiotics and Probiotics

Zenwise Health’s supplement uses a combination of plant-based enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics for optimal digestive health. The capsules contain crucial enzymes like amylase, protease, and lipase, as well as stomach-calming herbs like ginger, turmeric, and peppermint.

The GMP certified supplement also includes prebiotics and probiotics, which may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Specifically, the capsule contains prebiotic inulin, pectin, and sea vegetables. In terms of probiotics, each capsule contains 1 billion CFU from multiple strains of bacteria.

The capsules are vegetarian-friendly, and you can take one before each meal to help your body digest what you eat. If you prefer, Zenwise states that you can open the capsule and mix the enzyme blend into your favorite food.

Best with Stomach-Soothing Herbs: Rainbow Light Advanced Enzyme System

Rainbow Light Advanced Enzyme System

 Courtesy of Rainbow Light

Rainbow Light's Advanced Enzyme System does double duty, providing powerful plant-based enzymes and a specialized food and herb blend designed to support digestion and soothe your tummy. The vegan formula contains ten plant-sourced enzymes including amylase, protease, bromelain, lactase, and papain. The food and herb blend features a mix of apple pectin, turmeric extract, as well as a powder from papaya, ginger, fennel, and peppermint. Bladderwrack and Atlantic wakame, two seaweeds, are functional ingredients that contribute to dietary fiber, minerals, and amino acids.

The rapid release capsules are free of all eight major allergens. They're also free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sugar, yeast, and other sweeteners. Rainbow Light has a commitment to sustainability, and the bottle is 100% recycled, BPA-Free, and 100% recyclable.

Best for Lactose Intolerance: Lactaid Fast Act Lactase Enzyme Supplement

Lactaid Fast Act Lactase Enzyme Supplement
Courtesy of Amazon.

A deficiency in lactase—the enzyme used to break down milk sugar, or lactose—is commonly supplemented using Lactaid. People with lactose intolerance can’t properly digest the sugar in milk because their bodies don’t produce enough lactase enzyme. When they consume dairy products, they might experience bloating, diarrhea, and gas. Avoiding all dairy products will eliminate the symptoms, but if you’re craving ice cream or cheese every once in a while, taking a lactase enzyme supplement like Lactaid Fast Act may allow you to enjoy the treat in comfort.

Lactaid supplement is a quick fix for those with lactose intolerance. It contains lactase to help break down sugars, which may help eliminate gas and bloating. Each caplet contains 9000 FCC of natural lactase enzymes in an easy-to-swallow format. The doses are in convenient, individually-wrapped packaging so that you can take it with you on-the-go.

Best for Veggie-Associated Gas: Enzymedica Bean Assist

Your digestive system naturally produces gas as it breaks down the food you eat. Some high fiber foods, like beans, cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus, are more likely to produce intestinal gas. If that gas gets stuck in your digestive system, it can cause bloating, pain, and cramps. Enzymedica Bean Assist can help your intestines easily break down plant-based foods that cause gas.

Bean Assist contains 300 GaIU of alpha-galactosidase, a digestive enzyme proven to reduce the production of gas following a meal rich in fermentable carbohydrates, such as beans. You may be able to enjoy high-fiber, veggie-based foods with less gas if you take one capsule with each meal.

The 100% vegetarian capsules are kosher. They're also free of preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, as well as allergens including soy, wheat, dairy, nuts, and egg.

What to Look for in a Digestive Enzyme Supplement

Enzyme type: There are many types of digestive enzymes that work to digest certain foods. For example, if you are lactose-intolerant, you may benefit from a lactase-containing digestive enzyme. If you are vegetarian and consume many beans, you may choose a supplement with alpha-galactosidase.

Enzyme source: Digestive enzymes are derived from both plant and animal sources. Plant enzymes come from a variety of fruits, veggies, yeasts, and fungi. Animal-derived enzymes mostly come from the pancreases of pigs, cows, or lambs.

Dosage: While there is no standard dosage for OTC digestive enzymes, you should always check with your physician to choose the best option for your health needs. When possible, choose an OTC digest enzyme that lists the amount and units of each enzyme on the supplement facts label.

Other Ingredients: Consider other ingredients, such as herbs and additives, when selecting a digestive enzyme. Some herbs may interact with medication. Additionally, some digestive enzymes are derived from common allergens. Always check the label and speak with your physician.

Flavoring and Sweeteners: Aim to choose a supplement without artificial ingredients including colorings, flavorings, or sweeteners.

What Experts Say

"Digestive enzymes will be more likely to work if you are tailoring them to a specific food that you know you don't digest well or are less tolerant towards. If you find that it helps, use the supplement at the same time you consume the particular trigger food to increase effectiveness. This may include lactase for lactose, alpha-galactosidase for legumes, papain for heavy protein meals, or lipase for fatty meals." —Alanna Cabrero, RDN and founder of Alanna Cabrero Nutrition

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements. I spent time reviewing the most current clinical research on digestive enzyme supplementation and various forms, looking at multiple products and brands, and consulting with trusted peers in dietetics. I believe the digestive enzyme 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

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Article Sources
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