Lipase enzyme is water soluble, which helps in the metabolism of lipids (or fats). Apart from this, there are many other functions of this vital enzyme, in the body.
The entire metabolic process of the body is taken care by the enzymes that aid in breaking down food that is ingested. One of the primary enzymes that is used to break fats contained in the food is the lipase enzyme, that is primarily produced in the mouth, stomach, and pancreas. This enzyme belongs to the esterases family of proteins. Lipase hydrolyzes lipids ester bonds of triglycerides (i.e. making them water-soluble) to yield essential fatty acids and glycerol.
- The primary function of this enzyme is to digest fats and lipids, in order to sustain healthy functioning of the gallbladder.
- Also, this enzyme controls the fat synthesis rate, thereby keeping a check on the fat reserves (adipose tissue). Appropriate amounts of lipase aid in burning the fat reserves to be burned as fuel, whenever needed.
- The hydrolysis of the lipids is done by the lipoprotein lipase enzyme, which helps in breaking the low density lipoproteins into 2 – 3 fatty acids and one monoacylglycerol molecule, using APO-CII (apolipoprotein) as cofactor. This enzyme is found abundantly in the endothelial cells lining the capillaries.
- One kind of this enzyme, known as hormone-sensitive triacylglycerol, stimulates a process known as lipolysis in the fat tissue, which involves breaking down of fats and lipids. The essential fatty acids that are yielded through this process aid in activating the beta oxidation pathway in other tissues (like the liver). Also, in the liver, it assists in the production of ketone bodies, which are used as an alternate fuel by the peripheral tissue when glucose is not much available.
- Lipase also helps in keeping the cell permeability optimum, thereby allowing the necessary nutrients to enter the cell to facilitate metabolism. Besides, it has a stellar role to play in maintaining the electrolytic balance in the body.
- The sulfhydryl groups contained in these enzymes are of two types, Sh1 and SH11, which are beneficial for burning carbs in the body, when they are in a reduced state. These SH groups are activated by ascorbic acid, vitamin C, L-Glutathione, and L-Cysteine.
The lipase digestive enzyme is unique in its functioning, as it breaks down saturated fats without damaging the fat soluble vitamins or unsaturated omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids (like gamma-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid). If the lipase levels are low, the body may succumb to high cholesterol levels, diabetes, high sugar levels in urine, gallstones, hay fever, prostate ailments, and bladder problems. A deficiency of this enzyme can be easily detected, if the person is suffering from frequent muscle spasms and a spastic colon. Even dizziness and vertigo are medical conditions that occur due to its deficiency.
Enzyme supplements are best recommended for people whose digestive system is unable to digest the fats contained in the consumed food. Most of these supplements are made from animal and plant enzymes, and are often combined with protease to enhance metabolism rate. People with celiac disease cannot digest the gluten content of their diet, due to which, the intestinal tract may get damaged, leading to symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, and lethargy. Lipase supplements are prescribed for medical conditions caused by lipase deficiency.
These supplements are beneficial for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. They have also proved effective in people suffering from autoimmune diseases. Besides, people with high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular ailments, and elevated lipids may also benefit from these supplements. However, if normal lipase levels are crossed, it can lead to pancreas problems. Elevated lipase levels can cause pancreatitis, duct obstruction, peptic ulcers, and renal failures. Even medications like codeine, morphine, methacholine, indomethacin,cholinergics, meperidine, and bethanechol are responsible for increasing the pancreatic lipase levels in the body.
For adults deficient in this enzyme, 1 – 2 capsules, 3 times per day (contain about 6,000 lipase activity units) is recommended. And these should be consumed on an empty stomach, about 30 minutes before each meal. Please note, these supplements cannot be prescribed to children under 12 years of age.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only. Consult your physician/nutritionist before taking any supplements.