Many people take a digestive enzyme supplement to help them break down and digest their food better.
This can lead to better absorption of nutrients and a relief from symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, like bloating, gas, stomach pain, and indigestion.
These supplements may also come with probiotics to help improve the function of your gut flora–the bacteria that live in your digestive tract and play a critical role in your overall health.
Our research team has combed through a huge range of products to come up with the 10 best options, ranked according to quality.
1. MediZyme by 1MD
MediZyme uses a robust combination of 18 different enzymes to aid digestion, along with the probiotic bacteria Saccharomyces boulardii to cut down on gas production.
The enzymes lipase, cellulase, and lactase all help cut down on fats, fiber, and lactose that are often to blame for gas and bloating.
In addition to these common enzymes, 1MD has many other rarer enzymes hand-chosen to improve digestion and nutrition. This wide range of extremely useful enzymes makes it our top pick.
Easily the best digestive supplement on the market.
With a huge range of highly customized enzymes, MassZymes is designed specifically for athletes who want to get the most out of the protein in their diet.
While the usual enzymes like lactase and lipase are present, there are also several enzymes you won’t find in any other supplements on the market.
These help you digest and absorb the protein in your diet more effectively, leading to better workout recovery and more strength gains in training.
3. Garden of Life Raw Enzymes for Men and Women
Garden of Life Raw Enzymes comes in a variety for men and women, but the differences are slight. They both have the same key enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, but just in slightly different amounts.
The real advantage of Garden of Life Raw Enzymes is the fact that the supplement provides enzymes alongside a range of probiotic bacteria and the vitamins and minerals that those bacteria need to thrive.
This way, it can serve as a reset for your gastrointestinal bacteria population, re-populating it with bacteria and enzymes that are well-suited for digesting your food and helping you absorb nutrients better.
4. Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra
Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra provides 13 different enzymes that target all the most common culprits of digestive issues.
It attacks dairy, fiber, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins with the enzymes provided in the supplement. The only things missing are the “extras” you often see in the best digestive enzyme supplements: vitamins, minerals, and probiotic bacteria cultures to enhance the body’s natural digestive abilities in the long term.
5. Zenwise Health Daily Digestive Enzymes
Daily Digestive Enzymes has nine different digestive enzymes alongside a range of herbal extracts for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
These include ginger, turmeric, apple pectin, and peppermint, to name just a few. It also includes a probiotic mix, but unfortunately does not disclose the precise bacteria that go into this mix, making it difficult to determine how much this will help the supplement achieve its goals.
6. Rainbow Light Advanced Enzyme System
Rainbow Light provides a good blend of enzymes and herbal extracts to boost digestion and improve nutrient absorption.
With ten different enzymes, Rainbow Light can help your body process all of the most common types of foods that cause digestive issues, and with herbal extracts like ginger, fennel seed, and turmeric, you’ll be absorbing nutrients more effectively as well.
7. Source Naturals Daily Digestive Enzymes
Source Naturals makes a very targeted digestive enzyme supplement. It has eight different enzymes included in it, split into different categories to break down fat, protein, carbohydrates, dairy, and fiber.
The enzymes in this product are all solid, but they might work better if they were delivered alongside probiotics or a mix of vitamins and minerals. However, if you already get these elsewhere in your diet or supplementation routine, Source Naturals Daily Digestive Enzymes can definitely provide the missing piece.
8. MAV Nutrition Digestive Enzymes
MAV Nutrition uses special enzymes derived from fungus alongside probiotic bacteria to improve digestion of dairy, fat, and carbohydrates.
It’s a strong supplement if those are your only goals, but if your digestive issues include fiber–as many peoples’ do–you may struggle to have success with MAV Nutrition Digestive Enzymes, as it does not include cellulase or any of the other enzymes that break down dietary fiber to slow the rate at which it results in gas production.
9. Dr. Tobias Digest Plant-Based Enzymes
Dr. Tobias Digest provide a wide range of enzymes for digesting the most common causes of digestive issues, but the dosage is not always on par with what the best digestive enzyme supplements offer.
Further, it would be better if the enzymes came alongside a probiotic or a few vitamins, minerals, or herbal extracts to improve nutrient digestion. As it stands, this supplement may help with indigestion, but is less likely to boost nutrient absorption.
10. NOW Super Enzymes
NOW Super Enzymes provides a fair mix of enzymes and natural extracts to boost enzyme activity, but it’s mostly targeted at breaking down fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
It may struggle to break down large volumes of fiber from beans or vegetables, and it does not include lactase, so dairy could still cause problems.
Digestive enzyme benefits and side effects
Digestive enzymes are compounds derived from plants or animals that help your body digest food more effectively, as well as helping it absorb more nutrients.
Digestive enzymes can help with bloating, gas, and indigestion caused by a wide range of foods. The specific enzymes you should look for in your digestive enzyme supplement depend on what type or types of food cause the greatest problems for you.
The decision process is also a bit different if you are looking primarily to boost your nutrient absorption or to improve your digestive health overall.
We’ll take a closer look at exactly what benefits the right kind of digestive enzyme supplement can offer by looking at the science behind these supplements.
In short, a digestive enzyme supplement can help you digest your food more effectively, leading to greater nutrient absorption and fewer gastrointestinal symptoms.
Usually, people have digestive problems when they eat meals (especially large ones) that contain high concentrations of a few nutrients that cause trouble.
A good digestive enzyme supplement can help you digest fat, fiber, and dairy, which could be causing your digestive problems.
If you have gas, bloating, or indigestion, a digestive supplement could be the answer.
Enzymes are special cells that your body uses in your digestive tract to break down compounds that you couldn’t otherwise digest.
These digestive enzymes work in concert with your gut flora–the healthy probiotic bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines–to break down the food you eat.
Each enzyme has a specific task: there is an enzyme to break down the kind of sugar found in dairy, another to break down fats, and yet another enzyme to break down dietary fiber. But what happens if your body doesn’t have the enzymes it needs?
The result is gastrointestinal problems, from bloating and gas to stomach pain and indigestion.
A high quality digestive enzyme supplement will provide specific enzymes that target the most common causes of gastrointestinal problems related to food digestion.
In the case of diary, the specific enzyme of choice is lactase. It helps digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products.
While many dairy products are very healthy, a large proportion of people–more than half the world’s population, according to one study (1)–lack the necessary enzyme to digest lactose.
Can lactase help you digest dairy more effectively? The answer, according to a study by nutrition researchers at the University of Minnesota, appears to be yes (2).
In an authoritative review article, the authors recommend a number of strategies for dealing with gastrointestinal issues caused by dairy products.
A digestive enzyme supplement, as long as it contains lactase, can successfully reduce or even eliminate symptoms related to poor dairy digestion. However, it does need to be taken in close proximity to the meal, because the enzymes must be in your stomach at the same time as the food that contains dairy.
A similar phenomenon has been observed with high-fat meals. While every healthy person has the enzymes required to digest fats, you may not have enough to process large amounts of fat at once.
A 1999 study in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences had healthy volunteers consume a high-fat meal, either with or without a digestive enzyme supplement, and observed the incidence of bloating, gas, and fullness over the next several hours (3).
The researchers found that the digestive enzyme significantly reduced symptoms of poor digestion, and was associated with a reduction in specific chemicals in the breath that are indicative of poor digestion in the stomach.
One of the most important enzymes for digesting fats appears to be lipase, which digests lipids (known more colloquially as fats). If high-fat meals cause digestive problems, be sure your digestive enzyme contains lipase.
In the case of high fiber meals, the go-to enzyme appears to be cellulase. It’s an enzyme that attacks the long molecular chains that make up fiber, which otherwise ends up being a breeding ground for gas-producing bacteria. When they ramp up their metabolism, the result is bloating, gas, and stomach pain (4).
Since digestive enzymes are derived from natural sources–and the best digestive enzymes are often derived exclusively from plant sources–the risk of any side effects is rather small.
In very rare cases, some doctors have reported cases of allergic reactions to specific enzymes in digestive enzyme supplements. One such report surfaced in 1996, but again, this is quite rare and appears to be specific to the source of the plant or fungus that produced the enzyme, not the enzyme itself (5).
If you experience burning or swelling in your throat, there might be an ingredient in your digestive enzyme supplement that your body is allergic to.
It’s very difficult to come up with broad recommendations for digestive enzyme dosage, since the amount you need is going to depend on your baseline level of enzymes, the amount of problematic compounds (e.g. dairy, fat, or fiber), and the dosage of the enzymes that break down these compounds in your digestive enzyme of choice.
You can start with the manufacturer’s recommended dosage, and if you are still having digestive issues, you can increase the dose.
If it still doesn’t work, you might be better off with a different supplement that has a different enzyme profile.
Timing is also critical: you should take your digestive enzyme in close proximity to meal-time; otherwise the enzymes won’t be in your stomach ready to do their job at the right time.
A good digestive enzyme can be a lifesaver if meals rich in diary, fat, or fiber are giving you digestive issues.
If you’re plagued with gas, bloating, and indigestion after consuming dairy, make sure your digestive enzyme supplement contains lactase.
If you think it’s high fat meals that are causing problems, a supplement containing lipase is a good bet. And for fiber, cellulase appears to be the enzyme of choice.
Beyond this, there are also many other helpful enzymes which can break down carbohydrates, protein, fat, dairy, and fiber, which is why the best digestive enzymes on the market have a broad range of enzymes included and will be equally useful for different digestive problems.