Many of the digestive and systemic products on the market today contain enzymes derived from animal sources, such as the pancreatic tissue of pigs. However, microbial or vegetarian enzymes have several distinct advantages when compared to animal enzymes.
Vegetarian enzyme supplements can provide greater digestive or systemic activity per capsule or tablet than animal enzyme supplements. Vegetarian enzymes can be concentrated more than animal enzymes, so more activity can be included in each capsule or tablet. This means vegetarian enzymes require fewer capsules or tablets than animal enzymes to provide equivalent digestive or systemic action, which results in better patient compliance. This is particularly significant for systemic use of proteolytic enzymes where large numbers of pancreatin-based tablets are often recommended.1
Vegetarian enzymes function throughout the entire digestive tract. Pepsin only functions in the high acidity of the lower stomach and pancreatin, trypsin and chymotrypsin can only digest food in the alkaline pH of the intestines.
There are many in the enzyme supplement industry using the term “plant” or “plant-source” to describe enzymes from Aspergillus. This is technically incorrect. For a number of years, the scientific community has recognized three broad classifications of organisms (animal, plant and microbial) instead of the two many of us learned (animal and plant).