Pancreatic enzymes supplement
By: Nicole Nguyen, Pharm.D. candidate 2010
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the foods that we eat are broken down by pancreatic enzymes such as lipase, proteases, and amylases, respectively. Normally, our body produces about 8 cups of pancreatic fluid necessary for proper digestion. Patients with any condition that may affect the pancreas’ ability to produce pancreatic fluids will have a decrease level of pancreatic enzymes. Some of these conditions are cystic fibrosis, pancreatic and duodenal tumors, pancreatic obstructions, and patient who had a total pancreatetomy, etc. A decreased production of pancreatic enzyme is also a normal aging process. Stress and environmental factors can also affect pancreatic enzyme production. It’s important to supplement pancreatic enzymes when necessary to ensure proper nutrition and to prevent malabsorption. In addition, lack of digestive enzymes can lead to indigestion symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn, and acid reflux after eating. Pancreatic enzymes supplements are available as prescription and over-the-counter products. All prescription and some over-the-counter pancreatic enzymes supplements contain pork products. Patients with pork allergies should use other plant-based pancreatic enzymes supplements. All pancreatic enzymes supplements are not created equally; patient should check for specific ingredients to prevent an allergic reaction. The smallest recommended dose should be used. Some formulations contain special coating to withstand stomach acid thus tablets should be swallowed whole unless instructed otherwise. Dose should be taken at the beginning of a snack or a meal. Constipation is a common side effect of these supplements. Avoid taking calcium and magnesium-containing antacids such as TUMS, Maalox, and the like as these can decrease the effectiveness of pancreatic enzymes supplements.