Proteolytic enzymes are a broad class of enzymes, including pancreatin, bromelain and papain, that break down proteins. In your body, the pancreas makes proteolytic enzymes to digest the proteins in the foods you eat. Proteolytic enzyme supplements have been proved effective in encouraging tissue healing and muscle recovery, according to Supplement Watch. Proteolytic enzyme supplements are available in pill form from health food stores and online retailers. Proteolytic enzymes are considered food supplements and are not as heavily regulated by the FDA. As a result, you may find differences in quality from brand to brand. Consult your physician before starting any supplement program.
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Look for formulas that fit your dietary habits. Some manufacturers derive their enzymes from animal sources, which are not appropriate for vegetarians or vegans. Supplements that contain trypsin or chymotrypsin are extracted from livestock. Supplements that contain papain or bromelain come from plant sources. Some proteolytic enzyme supplements may have a blend of animal and plant enzymes.
Check for ingredients that may trigger allergies. The papaya plant contains plant compounds similar to latex and may trigger an allergic reaction to those sensitive to latex. If you have a latex allergy or a papaya allergy, avoid supplements that contain papain. Some supplements may also contain herbs, vitamins and other additives that may trigger an allergy in those with known sensitivities.
Read the label for activity units, not milligrams. Activity units indicate the strength of the enzyme and the higher the number, the faster it will break down proteins. The activity units will be written with a number followed by three letters and the word “units,” such as “56,000 USP units” or “675 FIP-units.”
Compare the cost of the supplement to the dosing recommendations. One product may have 45 pills and require you to take three a day, another product may cost less and have the same number of pills and require you to take six a day. The pill with the higher dosage is actually more expensive because you have to buy and use more to get the same effects.
Research the company and the product you wish to purchase. Many products say “clinically proven…” on the label or at their websites. You can verify whether the product has been subjected to clinical trials by searching online at resources such as Trialresultcenter.org.