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These days pretty much everyone’s heard of probiotic supplements. And while they can play a really important role in re-establishing gut health, the oft over-looked vegan digestive enzymes should also be on the radar of anyone that is experiencing problems with their digestive system.
Digestive enzymes occur naturally in our bodies but they can also be supplemented when needed. They are vital in breaking down food within our stomachs so that we can fully extract and absorb the maximum nutrition possible from what we eat.
It’s quite widely known that good health begins in our gut. If you have a lack of naturally occurring digestive enzymes in your body, you can eat all the healthy food you want but you won’t be able to benefit from its goodness because your stomach isn’t able to break it down sufficiently.
This can lead to a whole host of digestive problems including indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and more. Acute symptoms of a lack of digestive enzymes can also include fatigue, brain fog and leaky-gut.
If you’re wondering whether or not a vegan digestive enzyme supplement is the right choice for you, read on as we’ll go through everything you need to know about these products, as well as reviewing a range of online options and highlighting our top pick.
What exactly are digestive enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are used by our body to break down the food that we eat into nutrients that can be easily absorbed and assimilated. These digestive enzymes are produced in our pancreas and small intestines.
They help to keep our gut healthy but when we don’t produce enough, we can suffer from the effects of indigestion. The most common symptoms are stomach pain, bloating and gas, acid reflux and diarrhoea.
When our digestive enzymes are at optimum levels, everything within our gastrointestinal tract usually functions as it should and, in turn, we have better health and a stronger immune system as we are able to extract and absorb all the nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants) we need from our food. (1)
The three main types of digestive enzymes that are made in the pancreas are: proteases (breaks down proteins), lipases (breaks down fat) and amylases (breaks down carbohydrates). The enzymes that are made in the small intestine are lactase, maltase and sucrase. (2)
There are also a number of foods that help us out with the digestive process by containing naturally occurring digestive enzymes.
Who would benefit from digestive enzymes?
Many new and even long-term vegans and vegetarians complain about digestive issues, and it makes sense, especially with the amounts of high-fibre fruits, veggies, grains and pulses we eat – it certainly puts our digestive systems to the test.
Research that was published in the British Medical Journal revealed that a lack of digestive enzymes can lead to serious long-term health issues that go beyond just a little gas and bloating after eating. (3)
If food isn’t properly digested it remains in your gut rotting. This causes internal inflammation and you also don’t get all the nutrients you need from your food. It’s a perfect cocktail for ill-health.
Obviously you won’t be able to see this happening, but you will feel it. Maybe you feel tired all the time, you’re always getting sick, you have bad allergies and you wake up every day with swollen and aching joints.
Food allergies, low stomach acid and chronic stress can also impact on how well your body produces digestive enzymes.
Here are some other symptoms that you might experience if you have a lack of digestive enzymes:
- Bloating and gas after each meal
- The sensation that your food is still in your stomach hours after eating
- Feeling full after only a few bites of food
- Undigested food in your stool
- Consistent floating stools
- Undigested fat leaving an oily appearance in the toilet bowl
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms then a digestive enzyme supplement might be beneficial for you. Check out our review of ten of the best vegan digestive enzymes below to see which supplement best suits your needs.
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Are all digestive enzymes vegan?
When selecting your digestive enzymes supplement, it’s important to know that not all of them are vegan. Enzymes are proteins, which can come from one of three sources: fruits, plants, or animals.
The enzymes sourced from fruit usually come from pineapple or papaya, and while they work well for mild cases of digestive discomfort, vegans and vegetarians with very challenging issues will want to select a digestive enzyme supplement where the enzymes are sourced from both fruit and plant sources.
These plant-sourced digestive enzymes come from fungi, and are more potent than fruit derived enzymes due to their ability to survive all stages of the gastrointestinal tract.
You’ll want to avoid any digestive enzyme supplement that lists pancreatin as a source of its enzymes as this means they come from the pancreatic tissue of pigs. It’s interesting to note that the digestive enzymes derived from fungi are actually far more effective than those sourced from an animal.
All the supplements included in our roundup review are 100% vegan digestive enzymes so you can choose any one of those brands with confidence.
How do you take them?
Digestive enzymes should be taken right when you need them most – at meal times. If you forget about taking them, anytime within about 30 minutes since you last ate will still be beneficial.
The enzymes come in a range of forms; chewable tablets, capsules or powders.
The most common product on the market is the capsule form, but if you don’t like swallowing capsules (some of the capsules from brands that also include other ingredients such as herbs, minerals and pre/probiotics can get rather large) it’s entirely possible to open up the capsule and add or sprinkle it over your food.
If you have a good quality product, you should look at taking around three capsules a day, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Most people don’t need to take any digestive enzyme supplements with snacks unless they have very serious digestive issues.
If the manufacturer’s suggested dose isn’t working for you, try increasing your dose slowly by one capsule or pill per meal and give it around a week to evaluate how it’s working for you.
Are there any risks to taking digestive enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are considered safe; however, as with any supplement, you should speak with your doctor or physician if you have any health issues or take any prescribed medications, as some ingredient blends may affect the efficacy of anything else you’re taking.
Some users of digestive enzymes report that certain brands have made their symptoms of diarrhoea, bloating and constipation worse. So it’s important to use common sense and discontinue your selected supplement if you experience undesirable effects. (4)
What to look out for in a digestive enzymes product
There are literally hundreds of digestive enzymes products on the market, but as a vegan, only looking at the plant based digestive enzymes will help you narrow down the search.
Some manufacturers provide a product that only offers digestive enzymes and nothing else. Other products combine one or more of the following: probiotics, prebiotics, herbs that provide digestive comfort and ease digestion, fruit and vegetable powders, other minerals and vitamins to support the immune system.
You can also choose which formula you’d like to take your digestive enzymes in. Our reviews provide you with options for capsules, chewable tablets or powdered formations.
Here are some other things to consider when selecting your vegan digestive enzymes supplement:
Quality versus Price
You’ll get what you pay for when buying digestive enzymes.
You don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive product on the market but you should avoid the cheapest as they won’t have the range and potency of digestive enzymes that you’ll need to see a difference in your health.
Remember to only select digestive enzyme supplements that are suitable for vegans. You should also check whether the enzymes are derived from fruit or fungi.
The fungi-sourced enzymes are the most potent and stable, survive digestion well and have a broad action spectrum.
As we all eat a wide-range of food, you’ll benefit more from a multi-enzyme supplement. Check the label to make sure the product includes at least proteases, lipases, and amylases.
Make sure that there are numbers beside each enzyme on the product label that shows their strength. If this is missing, it’s probably better to skip that product as it usually indicates the potency of the digestive enzymes is low.
If you’re looking for a pure supplement choose one that lists its ingredients as organic and non-GMO. If you have allergies or are trying to avoid things like sugar, salt, gluten or soy, make sure the label lists that it is free from those filler ingredients.
Best digestive enzymes for a vegan diet
Now that we know what vegan digestive enzymes do, who should use them and what to look for in a vegan enzyme supplement, let’s check out our reviews and reveal our top pick.
Vegan Digestive Enzymes Reviews
Here’s our roundup of 10 of the best vegan digestive enzyme supplements on the market:
Viridian High Potency Digestive Aid
The Viridian High Potency Digestive Aid is the first up on our list. Not only do these capsules include vegan digestive enzymes, they also incorporate peppermint and ginger powder (known natural digestive aids) and betaine hydrochloride.
If you’re wondering what in the world betaine hydrochloride is, let me save you a Google! Basically, it’s an acidic form of betaine, which is a substance similar to a vitamin that’s found in some foods. It’s usually recommended for people who have a stomach acid deficiency and it helps you to absorb B12, calcium, iron and proteins.
Armed with that information, it’s now plain-to-see why betaine hydrochloride can be a useful ingredient to pair with plant-based digestive enzymes.
Overall, Viridian’s vegetarian digestive enzymes is a great product. It’s high potency and other users have reported that it works quickly for those that suffer discomfort after eating. It’s even helped those who experience challenging digestive issues resulting from hypothyroid issues.
All the selected ingredients combine to promote a healthy and well-balanced digestive environment. Just a word of caution though; be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions because if overused, some users have reported that these digestive enzymes can cause symptoms opposite to the desired effect and you could end up bloated. I guess that’s a risk with a high-potency product.
- High potency
- Contains peppermint and ginger to help with digestion
- Good value for money
- Can cause bloating if overused
Now here’s something a little different – Supergreens +D from Touchstone Essentials. If you are one of those people that struggles to eat their greens, this vegan enzymes product could be just the ticket.
Some users refer to it as ‘green juice in a capsule’ because it contains barley grass concentrate (gluten-free wheat grass), parsley, spinach, broccoli and Jerusalem artichoke – and they’re all organic.
Coupled with this nutritional powerhouse, is 2000 IUs per serving of organic vitamin D. This vitamin D is in the form of D2 because it is sourced from the Agaricus mushroom, unlike D3, which comes from sheep wool. Good news for vegans!
Let’s not forget what we’re here for! What about the digestive enzymes element? The Supergreens product contains four types and over 5 billion digestive enzymes to soothe digestion and strengthen gut health.
What are the downsides to this product? First off, they are quite expensive but like with everything, you get what you pay for, and in this case, it’s an effective, non GMO, 100% immune boosting digestive aid.
Other things to note are that with all the added ingredients, the capsules are quite large, making them hard to swallow. You only take three per day, but perhaps it would have been better for the manufacturer to make the capsules smaller and just increase the dosage. If you like the look of this product, but hate swallowing large capsules, you could always just open them up and sprinkle them on your food.
Loyal users of the Supergreen capsules have reported that the manufacturer has recently changed the recipe, decreasing the amount of digestive enzymes and upping the amount of vitamin D, making it less effective. It’s not clear why this decision was made but the good news is that they still work well.
- Certified organic
- High potency
- Vitamin D is plant-based and great immune support
- Green juice in a capsule
- Change in original recipe means less potency
- Capsules are big, so may be hard to swallow for some
VeganZyme claims to be the most advanced, full-spectrum, systemic and digestive vegetarian enzymes supplement in the world. If price equals quality, then that bold claim may just hold up as these come in as one of the most expensive plant based enzymes in our roundup.
If you’re looking for a product that focuses purely on digestive enzymes and nothing else, then this product may be for you.
Not only is it completely toxin-free, the high potency of the enzymes helps your body to digest fats, sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, gluten, fruits and vegetables, cereals, legumes, bran, nuts and seeds, soy, dairy (I guess this is useful if you accidentally miss some dairy on a label) and other foods.
So, is it as good as it claims?
Some users have reported that they feel amazing after taking it; they no longer have that bloated and sluggish feeling after eating; the enzymes have allowed them to eat things they haven’t eaten for years, and another user’s skin problems have also cleared up.
On the downside, another user reported that they needed to take quite a few of the capsules each day to feel any effect. Considering the price, this could be problematic, but as every person is different, the VeganZyme product’s effectiveness probably depends on a range of factors, such as your digestive issues and the foods you’re eating.
- Full spectrum and high potency
- Great for those who want plant based digestive enzymes and nothing more
- May need to take many pills to feel an effect
GASTROLYF This enzyme supplement, GASTROLYF from AUM Nutritionals, not only incorporates specific herbs known to promote healthy digestion, it also includes those other gut-loving heavyweights, pro and prebiotics. The combination of enzymes, herbs and pro/prebiotics definitely makes this product a knock out. The probiotics and prebiotics are multi-strain, 2 billion CFU (which stands for colony-forming unit – a unit is used to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample), meaning this a really potent and highly-effective supplement. GASTROLYF uses an organic blend of powders including psyllium husk, cascara sagrada, Slippery Elm, ginger, peppermint, dandelion, chicory root, rice and pullulan – all great for helping to keep things moving through the digestive system and ease any digestive discomfort. We love that this product is gluten-free, using all natural, organic and non-GMO products, and as another user pointed out, the fact that these capsules are housed in a glass bottle as opposed to a plastic one, means that the capsules are protected better, which keeps them potent for a longer period of time. Users only have great things to say about these vegetarian digestive enzymes – they don’t upset your stomach like some other brands, their bloating went away quickly, they noticed a substantial decrease in constipation and other digestive irregularities and after taking the enzymes, they noticed they had more energy too. Honestly, we can’t find a bad word to say about this product and we think that the manufacturers are also pretty confident that they have the best plant based digestive enzymes on the market as they offer a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product.
IMPORTANT EDIT: One of our fabulous readers contacted us to say that, unfortunately, they’d heard from AUM Nutritionals that these digestive enzymes are not vegan.
We have contacted AUM Nutritionals ourselves to ask whether this is purely down to lack of certification or if there are indeed animal products in their offering, but we’re yet to hear back.
We have, therefore, taken the decision to remove our recommendation yet leave the review up as we want to be as transparent as possible with everyone who visits HHV. As soon as we hear anything, we’ll let you all know.
Solgar Vegan Digestive Enzymes
If you’re someone that just can’t stomach swallowing tablets, then fear not! These chewable vegan digestive enzymes from Solgar could be perfect for you.
The tablets are free from sugar, salt and starch and although they have a chalky texture, their peppermint flavour makes them pleasant to chew.
This supplement doesn’t contain any betaine hydrochloride, so if your digestive issues mean you have an overproduction of stomach acid and heartburn, then the Solgar enzymes might be better suited to your needs.
In regard to the enzymes, the specialist formula includes all you’ll need to target the different food groups, giving a holistic approach to digesting food into nutrients your body is able to easily absorb.
Other users have reported that these vegan enzymes supplements can help with issues such as diagnosed delayed gastric emptying, stomach bloating, indigestion and heartburn.
Basically, they are like an alternative to over-the-counter antacids but with the added benefit of having vegan digestive enzymes thrown into the mix. They also offer great value for money, with 250 tablets per bottle.
- A chewable tablet form, great if you don’t like swallowing capsules
- Acts as an antacid as well as digestive enzymes
- Good value for money
- Tablets have a chalky texture
ZenWise Health Digestive Enzymes
With ZenWise, we again have a vegan digestive enzymes supplement that includes prebiotics and probiotics.
While the GASTROLYF plant based enzymes included 2 billion CFU of multi-strain pre and probiotics, these ones only offer 1 billion. Still, something is better than nothing, and they will still help to promote great intestinal health.
These ZenWise vegetarian digestive enzymes feature all the key enzyme ingredients you’d expect and are supposed to help a range of gastrointestinal issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, bloating, gas and diarrhoea.
Other users have reported that they’ve experienced immediate relief from even the first capsule, so the potency is good. Due to the added pre and probiotics, it’s even helped buyers gain relief from candida and related digestive issues and fatigue.
As we’ve noted in the previous reviews, the higher-potency products can cause issues for some people. If overused, it can lead to bloating and constipation; however, the company behind these digestive enzymes will refund you if you aren’t 100% satisfied.
IMPORTANT EDIT: ZenWise previously marketed this product as using a “vegan formula”, but have since dropped that label and switched to using vegetarian instead.
The company issued the following statement:
While the finished product is dairy-free, they are not-vegan friendly because one of the strains contains dairy in the early fermentation stage.ZenWise Health
Naturally, we have removed them from our list of recommended products but, as with Gastrolyf, we will leave the full review live in order to be as transparent as possible and inform anyone who may inadvertently be consuming animal derived products they would rather do without.
Hormone Synergy Digestive Enzymes
Like the VeganZyme supplement, these 100% vegan digestive enzymes from HormoneSynergy don’t contain anything other than enzymes.
They are non-prescription, but pharmaceutical grade and contain a broad spectrum formula that is specifically designed to help digest fat, protein, carbohydrate, fibre and lactose (not that vegans need this of course!).
This plant-based formula works in a wide pH range, unlike animal-based digestive enzyme products, which work in a narrow pH range. This means, they support healthy digestion of macronutrients and enhance nutrient absorption.
Users report that these enzymes work well to help a range of digestive issues, with no side effects.
- Pharmaceutical grade product
- Wide pH range to help with nutrient absorption
- Value for money
- Plastic bottle doesn’t protect potency of capsules for as long as glass
Life Infused Digestive Enzymes with Probiotics Supplements
Something fishy going on?
No, it’s just the added algae in these Life Infused vegan enzymes! Why would you need to include algae, you ask?
Well, these enzymes help with the digestion of the food, the added probiotics promote good gut bacteria to create a healthy digestive environment, and then the added 72 minerals and algae can be easily absorbed and used by the body to ensure great health.
The algae provides added nutrition in the form of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals as well as aids in the removal of waste and toxins. It’s also a great source of iodine, which supports healthy thyroid function.
The great thing about this vegan enzyme product is that it’s non-GMO, wheat and gluten free and soy free, so it’s perfect if you have allergies. There are no filler or artificial ingredients, making it a pure supplement that you can take with confidence.
- Addition of algae and minerals to boost nutrition
- Probiotics also included
- Wheat and gluten free
- No soy (good for those who have allergies)
- At the top end of the price scale
My Wellness Journey Max Phytofood
If you’re a fan of smoothies or any other type of blended health drink, then this combination of nutrient-dense superfoods, fibre, probiotics, and digestive enzymes will be right up your alley.
The My Wellness Journey Max Phytofood comes in a delicious and convenient powdered formulation, which you can blend or shake and includes organic greens, vegetables, fruits, and berries so you’re able to drink your five-a-day plus get relief from any digestive issues you have.
Perfect if you don’t like taking pills or capsules and if you struggle to find time to eat well every day.
- Great combination of superfoods, fibre, probiotics and digestive enzymes
- Powdered form is convenient and a great option if you dislike capsules
- No prebiotics included in the mix
Pure Vegan Digestive Enzymes
Last but not least, we have the Vegan Digestive Enzyme Complex from Pure Vegan. Unlike most enzyme supplements, the Pure Vegan brand claims that it works continuously throughout the pH variations in the digestive tract, making it more effective.
While some people say that these enzymes don’t work as well as other brands on the market, other users report that they really ease bloating and gas, especially when as a vegan, you’ve only gone and thrown all the food-combining best practices out the window. Melon slices for dessert anyone?
They also apparently work well for acid reflux.
The Pure Vegan digestive enzymes don’t contain any prebiotics or probiotics but the addition of ginger, peppermint and cinnamon may help calm your indigestion and bloating.
- Effective for acid reflux
- Eases gas and bloating issues
- Works effectively even when food combining
- Not as potent as other brands on the market
- Plastic bottle doesn’t protect potency of capsules for as long as glass
Which is the best vegan digestive enzyme supplement?
While it may be a little pricier than some of the other vegan digestive enzyme supplements on our list, the overall winner has to be Life Infused’s Digest Infused.
Although the choice of a capsule rather than a chewable tablet or powdered formulation might not suit everyone, for me, this product has everything you need to help keep your gut healthy.
The addition of algae cleverly helps break down your food, whilst the probiotics promote the good bacteria you want to find in your gut. This, in turn, creates the perfect environment for high absorption of vitamins and minerals while clearing the system of any toxins and unnecessary waste.
As I said at the beginning of this review, all-round bodily health begins in the gut. So if you’re looking to ease your digestive discomfort but also encourage healthy bacteria to thrive so you can continue to improve your overall health, then I’d always go for a digestive enzyme supplement that ticks all the boxes that the Life Infused’s Digest Infused offering does – effective, high potency and value for money.
I hope you’ve found this roundup of the best digestive enzymes for a vegan diet useful, and no matter which product you choose that it will work well in supporting you towards perfect health!
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About The Author:
Emma is a blogger, life-coach and qualified PR professional and journalist, who also happens to be a passionate vegan, animal and nature lover.
She lives in a small village in France with her husband, daughter and their rescue animals at the Barefoot Vegan Farm and Animal Sanctuary. As a writer, Emma’s work has been featured in other popular well-being and spiritual websites such as Elephant Journal, IVORY magazine, and she’s part of the Huffington Post’s team of regular bloggers. Her writing was also included in the Tiny Buddha book 365 Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha, released in 2015 by HarperCollins.
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- Cathy Wong | The Health Benefits of Digestive Enzymes | https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-digestive-enzymes-89446
- James Roland | Why Are Enzymes Important? | https://www.healthline.com/health/why-are-enzymes-important
- Ana M Valdes | Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health | https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179
- Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD | Digestive Enzymes List, Side Effects, Uses, and Benefits | https://www.medicinenet.com/digestive_enzymes-oral/article.htm