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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics


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  • Enzymes Introduction
  • Functions of Enzymes
  • Lactase Enzyme Description
  • Lactase Safety, Cautions, & Adverse Reactions
  • Lactase Dosage Information
  • Lactase Enzyme Supplements & Products



    The late Dr. Edward Howell, a physician and pioneer in enzyme research, called enzymes the "sparks of life." These energized protein molecules play a necessary role in virtually all of the biochemical activities that go on in the body. They are essential for digesting food, for stimulating the brain, for providing cellular energy, and for repairing all tissues, organs, and cells. Life as we know it could not exist without the action of enzymes, even in the presence of sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, water, and other nutrients.

    In their primary role, enzymes are catalysts, the substances that accelerate and precipitate the hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions in the body that control life's processes. If it were not for the catalytic action of enzymes, most of these reactions would take place far too slowly to sustain life. Enzymes are not consumed in the reactions they facilitate.

    Each enzyme has a specific function in the body that no other enzyme can fulfill. The chemical shape of each enzyme is specialized so that it can initiate a reaction only in a certain substance, or in a group of closely related chemical substances, and not in others. The substance on which an enzyme acts is called the substrate. Because there must be a different enzyme for every substrate, the body must produce a great number of different enzymes.



    Enzymes assist in practically all bodily functions. Digestive enzymes break down food particles for energy and for storage in the liver or muscles. This breakdown chemical reaction is called Hydrolysis, and it involves using water to break the chemical bonds to turn food into energy. This stored energy is later converted by other enzymes for use by the body when necessary and as required by the body. Iron is concentrated in the blood by the action of enzymes; other enzymes in the blood help the blood to coagulate in order to stop bleeding. Uricolytic enzymes catalyze the conversion of uric acid into urea. Respiratory enzymes facilitate the elimination of carbon dioxide from the lungs. Enzymes assist the kidneys, liver, colon, and skin in removing wastes and toxins from the body. Enzymes also utilize the nutrients ingested by the body to construct new muscle tissue, nerve cells, bone, skin, and glandular tissue. One enzyme can take dietary phosphorus and convert it into bone. Enzymes prompt the oxidation of glucose, which creates energy for the cells. Enzymes also protect the blood from dangerous waste materials by converting these substances to forms that are easily eliminated by the body. Indeed, the functions of enzymes are so many and so diverse that is would be impossible to name them all.

    Enzymes are often divided into two groups: Digestive Enzymes & Metabolic Enzymes.

    DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are secreted along the gastrointestinal tract and break down foods, enabling the nutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream for use in various bodily functions. There are three main categories of digestive enzymes: Amylase, Protease, and Lipase.
      AMYLASE ENZYMES: Amylase is found in saliva and in the pancreatic and intestinal juices and it breaks down carbohydrates. It begins to act as soon as you start chewing (this is why it is important to chew your food well). Different types of Amylase break down specific types of sugars. For example, Lactase breaks down lactose (milk sugar), maltase breaks down maltose (malt sugar), and sucrase breaks down sucrose (cane and beet sugar).

      PROTEASE ENZYMES: Protease is found in the stomach juices and also in the pancreatic and intestinal juices and it helps digest proteins.

      LIPASE ENZYMES: Lipase is found in the stomach and pancreatic juices, and also present in fats in foods, and aids in fat digestion.

    Another component of the digestive process is hydrochloric acid. While not technically an enzyme itself, it interacts with digestive enzymes as they perform their functions.

    METABOLIC ENZYMES are those enzymes that catalyze the various chemical reactions within the cells, such as energy production and detoxification. All of the body's organs, tissues, and cells are governed and activities run by the metabolic enzymes. They are the workers that build the body from proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Metabolic enzymes are found in the blood, organs, and tissues doing their specific work. Each body tissue has its own specific set of metabolic enzymes.

    Two particularly important metabolic enzymes are Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and its partner, Catalase. SOD is an antioxidant that protects the cells by attacking a common free radical, superoxide.

    Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide, a metabolic waste product, and liberates oxygen for the body to use.

    The body uses most of its enzyme-producing potential to produce about 2 dozen enzymes. These control the breakdown and utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to create the hundreds of metabolic enzymes necessary to maintain the rest of the tissues and organs in their functions.


    Enzymes can be found naturally in many different foods, both from plant and animal sources. Avocados, papaya, pineapples, bananas, and mangoes are all high in enzymes. Sprouts are the richest source. Unripe papaya and pineapple are excellent sources of enzymes. The enzymes extracted from papaya and pineapple are Papain and Bromelain, respectively, and are Proteolytic Enzymes, which break down proteins.

    Many fat-containing foods also supply Lipase, which breaks down fats. In fact, fat in food exposed only to Pancreatic Lipase (the Lipase produced by the body) in the intestines is not as well digested as fat that is first worked on by the stomach by Food Lipase. Pancreatic Lipase digests fat in a highly alkaline environment (the intestines), whereas Lipase found in food fats works in a more acidic environment (the stomach). The optimal extraction of nutrients from fats depends on the work of different fat-digesting enzymes in successive stages.

    Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) comes in several different forms, including Lysine HCl and Betaine HCl. Betaine HCl is derived from sugar beets. When new, HCl capsules and tablets are almost white in color, but sometimes they can turn a deep purple when they age. Supplemental HCl is not sold in powder or liquid form because contact with the teeth can damage tooth enamel. HCl has a sulfur-like odor. Betaine HCl is often combined with Pepsin to aid in stomach function.

    Superoxide Dismutase occurs naturally in a variety of food sources, including barley grass, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass, and most green plants.

    As powerful as they are, enzymes cannot act alone. They require adequate amounts of other substances, known as coenzymes, to be fully active. Among the most important coenzymes are the B-Complex Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc.


    While the body manufactures a supply of enzymes, it can also obtain enzymes from food. In fact, the body's ability to manufacture enzymes is being seriously taxed by our diet of processed and highly cooked food. Unfortunately, enzymes are extremely sensitive to heat. Even low to moderate heat (118°F or above) destroys most enzymes in food. To obtain enzymes from the diet, one must eat raw foods. Eating raw foods or, alternatively, taking enzyme supplements, helps prevent the depletion of the body's own enzymes and thus reduce the stress on the body.

    Anyone who has a malabsorption problem, a yeast infection (candidiasis), or is over age 60 and whose digestive process seems to be stalling out, resulting in unpleasant symptoms should take enzyme supplements. Ingredients should include Pancreatin, Lipase, Amylase, and Protease. This combination ensures digestion and absorption of amino acids, fat-soluble nutrients, and carbohydrates. Bromelain, derived from pineapple stems, along with Papain, derived from the papaya fruit, also are welcome. Specific problems can be addressed by the addition of specific enzymes. For instance, people who have trouble with dairy sugars should consider Lactase; people who cannot digest legumes might try Legumase. Hydrochloric Acid supplements also might be necessary in the form of Betaine Hydrochloride taken as capsules at the start of each meal.

    The majority of commercially available enzymes are digestive enzymes extracted from various sources. Enzymes are not manufactured synthetically. Most commercial enzyme products are made from animal enzymes, such as pancreatin and pepsin, which help in the digestion of food once it has reached the lower stomach and the intestinal tract. Some companies make their supplements from enzymes extracted from aspergillus, a type of fungus.

    These enzymes begin their pre-digestive work in the upper stomach. All of these products are used primarily to aid the digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients especially protein. If proteins are not completely digested, undigested protein particles may make their way into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall with other nutrients. This phenomenon is known as leaky gut syndrome, and it can result in allergic reactions that may be more or less severe, depending upon the strength of the immune system. This is one reason why the proper digestion of proteins is so important.

    Any enzyme that acts on protein and prepares it for absorption is called a proteolytic enzyme. Proteolytic enzymes available in supplement form include pepsin, trypsin, rennin, pancreatin, chymotrypsin, bromelain, and papain. In addition to aiding digestion, proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be beneficial as anti-inflammatory agents. Pancreatin, derived from secretions of animal pancreas, is a focus of cancer research, because people with cancer are often deficient in this enzyme. Pancreatin is used in the treatment of digestive problems, viral infections, and sports injuries, as well as pancreatic insufficiency, food allergies, cystic fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, and other chronic illnesses.

    Also available in supplement form are the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.The following table lists some common enzymes and their substrates (the substance acted upon).





    Proteins, Adhesions, Fibrin
    Lactose (Milk, Sugar)
    Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates
    Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates













    Enzyme supplements may not be for everyone. During pregnancy, it is a rule to be careful with supplements in general. Nursing mothers also should be careful about supplements, to avoid affecting their milk. If you are pregnant or nursing, contact your midwife or health care provider before taking any supplement, formula, or medication of any kind.

    People who have hemophilia or who take anticoagulants (blood thinners) should consult with their health care providers before taking large amounts of enzymes. Anyone contemplating surgery where there is high risk of bleeding should as his or her physician for advice before taking any supplement.



    Lactase is an enzyme produced in the digestive system of infants and some, mostly European, adult humans. Lactase is essential to the complete digestion of whole milk and milk products. The optimum temperature for lactase is about 77°F for its activity and has an optimum pH of 6. Lactase breaks down lactose, a complex sugar which gives milk its sweetness. Lactase cannot be absorbed by the body unless it is broken down by lactase into glucose and galactose. Lacking lactase in their intestines, a person consuming dairy products may experience the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Abdominal cramping, flatulence (gas) and diarrhea occurs when a lactose intolerant person consumes milk products.

    Lactose intolerance can begin at different ages. Infants are not usually affected, but lactose intolerance can affect children as young as 2. It is very common in adults. Lactase is encoded by a single genetic locus on chromosome 2. It is experessed exclusively by mammalian small intestine enterocytes and in very low levels in the colon during fetal development. Humans are born with high levels of lactase expression. In most of the world's population, lactase transcription is down-regulated after weaning, resulting in diminished lactase expression in the small intestine. Diminshed lactase expression causes the common symptoms of adult-type hypolactasia, or lactose intolerance. Some population segments exhibit lactase persistence resulting from a mutation that is postulated to have occurred 5000 to 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise of cattle domestication. This mutation has allowed almost half of the world’s population to metabolize lactose without symptoms.

    Lactase is mostly produced in the cells (called enterocytes) of the villi, which line the interior of the small intestine. When the lining of the small intestine is damaged (as happens in untreated celiac disease), lactase production is lowered and lactose intolerance can result.

    Lactose intolerance is completely different from milk allergy. Milk allergy is an allergic reaction triggered by the immune system to protein components in milk. Lactose intolerance is related to the digestive system and the inability to break down milk sugar (lactose). In addition, lactose intolerance is not a contagious disease, and even though lactose intolerance symptoms are distressing and sometimes uncomfortable, they do not cause damage to the intestine.


    Lactose is a primary simple sugar found in milk and dairy. In order to digest lactose, the digestive enzyme lactase must be present in the small intestine. Lactase breaks down the milk sugar into two simpler forms of sugar, glucose and galactose, which allows absorption into the bloodstream. The following definitions may be of help to you in your understanding of lactose intolerance.
    • Lactase: The enzyme present in the lining of the small intestine that is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar) in order for it to be absorbed by the body and used as nourishment.
    • Lactose: The sugar that is found naturally in the milk of all mammals, which the human body breaks down into galactose and glucose. Lactose is not found anywhere else in nature.
    • Lactase Deficiency: The lack of the enzyme lactase, which is the cause of lactose intolerance.
    • Lactose Intolerance: Being unable to digest the sugar in milk (lactose), which occurs because the body does not produce enough of the lactase enzyme.

    Lactose intolerance, often referred to as LI, is a condition referring to the inability to properly digest and metabolize lactose, the dissacharaide component in milk and dairy products. Sometimes LI is referred to as lactase deficiency - the terms mean the same thing, and in the medical community the condition is referred to as primary lactose intolerance. This inability is the result of an deficient amount of lactase, the naturally-occurring enzyme needed to break down lactose, in the small intestine. There are several reasons as to why a person may have deficient levels of lactase in their digestive system. The most common reason for lactase deficiency is that adults naturally produce less lactase as they age, and the amount of lactase can eventually decrease to a level which results in an inability to digest the lactose dairy products. Another common cause is the result of another pre-existing digestive disorder that destroys the tissue of the small intestine, such as Crohn's Disease, which as a result also destroys the body's ability to produce lactase. A rare cause of deficient levels of lactase is genetic and present from birth, resulting in an infant's inability to digest breast milk as well as animal dairy products.

    Secondary lactase deficiency is caused by certain digestive disorders that damage the small intestine. The damage inhibits the body's ability to produce lactase and process lactose. Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease can all lead to secondary lactase deficiency.

    Symptoms of lactose intolerance often include but are not limited to abdominal discomfort and cramping, bloating, diarrhea and flatulence when consuming dairy products. LI is a very common condition that often goes undiagnosed. Many individuals are living with unnecessary discomfort. Simple diet changes could easily make a big difference in how they feel. There is no magic care for lactose intolerance and no medical procedures that will correct it. Your comfort all comes down to what is put in your mouth when you eat or drink.


    If there is a shortage of Lactase in the small intestine, lactose carries additional fluid as it moves down to the colon. Fermentation of lactose in the colon begins to take place, and gases form. (Think of the fermentation process of fine wines and champagne.) The gas bubbles can be very uncomfortable, causing gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramping, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating. Symptoms can range from severe pain to mild discomfort, depending on each individual's degree of lactase deficiency and the amount of lactose that has been consumed. It is common for symptoms to begin anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours after eating or drinking food containing lactose.

    When toddlers are around age two, their bodies begin to produce less lactase. The symptoms of the lessening of lactase production may not be realized until a person is much older. In some cases it can be as late as the senior years.

    As many as 75 percent of all adults worldwide are lactose intolerant, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from some degree of lactose intolerance. While 85 percent of children outgrow their intolerance, adults are not so lucky. Genetics can be a contributing factor, and LI can also be common among individuals who are alcoholic or ingest an abnormal amount of alcohol.

    The numbers and percentages of lactose intolerant individuals are staggering. In fact, lactose tolerance is rarer than lactose intolerance. The National Institutes for Health reports that between 80 to 100 percent of Asian Americans and Native Americans are lactose intolerant, and up to 80 percent of African Americans are lactose intolerant. On the bright side, LI is not life threatening. It can be easily controlled by diet, and it's not an all-or-nothing situation.

    Ongoing research is conclusive in illustrating a genetic link to lactose intolerance. This may be useful in developing a genetic test to identify potential lactose intolerance in people whose parents are lactose intolerant.

    Molecular & Cultural Evolution Lab: Lactase Persistance

    generalized lactase map


    One very simple test can be performed at home. Avoid all milk products for several consecutive days. On a weekend when you plan to be at home, do not eat any breakfast but instead drink two large glasses of milk. During the next four to five hours, if you experience LI symptoms you are a prime candidate for being lactose intolerant. At this point, see a health care provider for confirmation of your symptoms.


    Medical tests can be performed with your health care providers advice to accurately diagnose lactose intolerance. In medically testing and measuring the absorption of lactose in the digestive system, common measures include a stool acidity test, a lactose tolerance test, and a hydrogen breath test. It is important that you confirm the discomfort that you are experiencing after eating a meal or a snack is not a more serious digestive disorder than lactose intolerance. Consult your health care provider for advice on what testing needs to be done to narrow your diagnosis so that you can get on with enjoying your life. Keep in mind that every LI case is unique to the individual.


    One way to treat lactose intolerance is to avoid milk products. However, this can result in a lack of important nutrients and vitamins such as calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and protein. Some people use lactose-free milk or milk substitutes such as soy or rice milk. Most people with low lactase enzyme levels can tolerate small amounts of milk products at one time (2 to 4 ounces) and get symptoms only with larger servings (6 ounces or more). Taking lactase enzyme with milk products as directed can help prevent upset stomach, abdominal bloating/cramping, gas, and diarrhea caused by these products.


    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Lactose Intolerance
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Celiac Disease
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Indigestion
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Ulcerative Colitis



    Before taking a Lactase supplement, tell your health care provider or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

    If you have any problems with stomach or intestinal infection, recent stomach or intestinal surgery, unexplained weight loss, consult with your health care practitioner before using this product.

    It is not known whether lactase supplements passes into breast milk. Consult your health care practitioner before breast-feeding.

    Lactase supplements usually has very few side effects. Many people do not have serious side effects and a very serious allergic reaction is unlikely. If you have any unusual effects from taking a lactase supplement, contact your health care provider.

    If you develop symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (rash, itching, swelling - especially of the face, tongue and/or throat - severe dizziness, or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

    This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your health care provider. If you are taking a lactase supplement under your health care provider's direction, he or she may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine or supplement before checking with your health care provider and keep a list of all medications and dietary supplements with you, and share the list with your health team..



    Lactase enzyme is used to break down lactose (milk sugar) and may also be used as a digestive aid to ease lactose intolerance. Lactase can be purchased as a food supplement, taken orally or added to milk to produce "lactose-free" milk products. This is used to help people who have trouble digesting milk and other dairy products (lactose intolerance). Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products. Lactase enzyme is normally produced by the body to help break down (digest) lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body produces low amounts of lactase enzyme.

    Follow all directions on the product package, or use as directed by your health care provider. If you are uncertain about any of the information, consult your practitioner.

    If your condition persists or worsens, or if you think you may have a serious medical problem, seek immediate medical attention.

    When purchasing food products and preparing your foods, read food labels. Lactose is also found in some non-milk products.


  • Lactase Enzyme Supplement Products


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    HerbsPro: Lactase-3500 Chewable Digestive Aid, Solgar, 3500 FCC Lactase Units, 30 Wafers (36308)
    HerbsPro: Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance Caplets, Schiff Bio Foods, 32 Caplets (96052)
    The only product that uses specially isolated live cultures (GanedenBC30) to help break down lactose and the complex sugars found in dairy products and other foods. For maximum effectiveness, this product should be taken daily. No need to take with every meal. Lactose free. Contains Lactase Enzyme, Microcrystalline Cellulose and Di-Calcium Phosphate.
    HerbsPro: Lactase Digest, Source Naturals, 3,000 ALU - 30 mg, 45 VCaps (83809)
    HerbsPro: Lactase-3500 Chewable Digestive Aid, Solgar, 3500 FCC Lactase Units, 60 Wafers (36309)
    HerbsPro: Lactase Enzymes, Natural Factors, 9000 FCC ALU, 60 Caps (84291)
    Lactase Enzyme breaks down the milk sugar (lactose) into an easily digestible form. It effectively allows people, who have their natural enzyme compromised, enjoy lactose containing foods without discomfort. Lactase Enzyme is the optimal support for the digestion of dairy products.
    HerbsPro: Lactase Digest, Source Naturals, 3,000 ALU - 30 mg, 90 VCaps (83810)
    HerbsPro: Lactase Enzyme, Natures' Way, 10,350 FCC 690 mg (3 Capsules), 100 Caps (17962)
    HerbsPro: Milk-Gestant Lactose Digestive Enzyme Formula, Life Time Nutritional Specialties, 100 Tabs (89869)
    HerbsPro: Lactase Digest, Source Naturals, 3,000 ALU - 30 mg, 180 VCaps (83811)
    Lactose intolerance occurs in more than 50 percent of the world's population. Source Naturals Lactase Digest assists in the digestion of dairy products for people with lactose intolerance. Lactase Digest provides the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose and supports the relief of discomforts associated with dairy intolerance. It is available in vegetarian capsules and is suitable for vegetarians.
    HerbsPro: Milk-Gestant Lactose Digestive Enzyme Formula, Life Time Nutritional Specialties, 250 Tabs (89870)


    Amazon: Lactase Enzyme Supplement Products

  • Nutrition Basics: Lactase Enzyme Information

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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Is Aspartame A Safe Sugar Substitute?
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Increase Your Consumption of Raw Produce
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water


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