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Home > Research Department  > Supplement ArticlesAmylase
    Supplement Articles  
AMYLASE
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.)
Last Updated: August 7th, 2015

Amylase breaks down starches in our digestive tract ...

AMYLASE

When you don't properly digest starch the bacteria in your gut will do it for you, making a lot of gas in the process.
One of the three major categories of digestive enzymes in the human body are amylases. Amylase is produced by the pancreas and released into the small intestine during digestion. It is also produced in our saliva so some food can begin to be broken down in our mouths. In general, amylase is an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of starch into simple sugars. It is these sugar subunits that can be absorbed by the lining of our gut and passed into the bloodstream.

What is starch?
Starch is a broad term used to describe a varied group of complex carbohydrates that share one underlying feature: they are chains made up of sugar subunits.

Each subunit is a single simple sugar (monosaccharide), such as: glucose, fructose, galactose, xylose, or ribose. They are all connected in long chains that take time to break down. Examples of starches in our food are: pasta, rice, bread, potato, sweet potato, and corn.

Amylase and digestion
Amylase is an enzyme that breaks the bonds between each sugar subunit in a starch chain. The resulting simple sugar subunits are then absorbed into our blood stream and used by the cells in our body for energy. Amylase is first exposed to our food via the saliva in our mouths. Because of this, it is important to chew your food well to allow full exposure to amylase prior to swallowing. This digestion of starch to sugar in the mouth is what makes starches taste more and more sweet the longer you chew.

Types of Amylase

There are three major types of amylase: alpha, beta, and gamma. The form most useful to our everyday digestion is alpha amylase and this is the type most often found in supplements.

Deficiency
When there isn't sufficient amylase production by the pancreas, the body is unable to properly digest any starches that are eaten. This limits the amount of energy received from food, and leaves the remaining molecules to continue down the digestive tract where they can be acted on by the gut microbes. Having a healthy gut flora, that can produce amylase enzymes of their own, can help your body to properly digest these remnants. Abnormal gut flora will use these undigested starches as a food source and break them up using different reactions that produce toxins and gas. Because of this, improper carbohydrate digestion results in gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and any number of inflammatory symptoms such as: skin rashes, arthritic symptoms, and fatigue. For more information on improving your gut flora with probiotics, please click here.

Testing for Amylase
There is always amylase present in your body. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above it is important to speak to your doctor to determine the cause. There are simple blood tests or urine test that can be done to determine if there is too much or too little present. If there is a high count there are a few possible causes. These include: acute or chronic pancreatitis, inflammation of the gallbladder or intestinal tract, salivary gland infection or intestinal blockage. If there is a low count it could possibly indicate a problem with the pancreas or even kidney disease.

How can I get more amylase?
Amylase can be found in any number of digestive aid supplements, often in combination with other digestive enzymes such as lipase and protease. In general, alpha amylase is the form found in these formulas. The recommended dosage varies depending on your body chemistry and the starch content of the food you are taking it for. It also depends on the source and activity of the enzyme preparation. A dose of between 75,000 and 300,000 USP is a general guideline, based on recommendations for pancreatin supplementation. Please note that the dosing on many of these supplements is intentionally confusing and the amount per gram may be listed, when the actual dose is a fraction of that. In general, because of the lack of standardization, dosing your amylase supplement will require a bit of trial and error on your part. Natural dietary sources of amylase include: all raw fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, raw nuts, whole grains and legumes.

Important information

It is not known if supplementation of digestive enzymes during pregnancy or breastfeeding can cause harm to the baby so avoid supplementation during these times. Taking too much amylase at one time may cause diarrhea or stomach pain.

AMYLASE – QUICK FACTS

SOURCES

· Ripened fruit, gut bacteria, saliva, digestive juices.

APPLICATIONS

· Starch and complex carbohydrate digestion..

OPTIMUM DOSAGE

· Not well standardized. Generally between 75,000 and 300,000USP. (Clinical doses may differ as recommended by your healthcare practitioner).

WORKS WELL WITH

·  Other digestive enzymes, ox bile.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

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·  The effects of supplementing digestive enzymes during pregnancy and lactation is unknown, so use should be avoided during these times.

·  Taking too much amylase at one time may cause diarrhea or stomach pain.


For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2015.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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