Trypsin, a digestive enzyme that your pancreas produces, enables you to digest the protein you eat. If your pancreas is not producing enough trypsin, you may experience malabsorption, a digestive problem. If this continues, you eventually suffer from deficiencies in essential nutrients. This, in turn, can lead to certain diseases or illnesses, such as anemia.
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Function of Trypsin
Your body produces many digestive enzymes. In addition, pancreatic trypsin is not the only proteolytic, or protein-digesting enzyme. Like pepsin, it breaks the bonds of specific amino acids in proteins to produce peptides. It also enables the absorption of vitamin B-12 from the intestinal tract. Lack of trypsin causes the vitamin to be excreted rather than assimilated, leading to symptoms of anemia and problems with nerves and the immune system.
Trypsin for therapeutic purposes is typically extracted from the pancreas of animals that produce meat, such as pigs. Proteolytic enzymes, which are available as nutritional supplements, do not require a doctor's prescription. Products containing trypsin vary. Manufacturers formulate different combinations of digestive enzymes with different dosages of trypsin. Dosages of enzymes may appear in international units or milligrams, which express their digestive activity.
Proteolytic enzymes sold in supplement form typically have an enteric coating, which consists of an acid-resistant substance that protects it from the stomach environment and then dissolves in the intestine. Trypsin often is an ingredient in supplements that are used to treat indigestion and other conditions with variable results. Studies show that some of these products may aid symptoms of pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis and aid healing from sports injuries and surgery.
The lack of more data for the efficacy of trypsin in therapy has to do with the wide variety of products available and the fact that it is not often taken alone. For those on vegetarian diets, fruits such as pineapple and papaya contain enzymes like bromelain and papain, which also are enzymes that digest protein. Like trypsin, these enzymes also are available as nutritional supplements in various formulations that you can buy in stores or online.