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Lipase is an enzyme necessary for the absorption and digestion of nutrients in the intestines. This digestive enzyme is responsible for breaking down lipids (fats) , in particular triglycerides, which are fatty substances in the body that come from fat in the diet. Once broken down into smaller components, triglycerides are more easily absorbed in the intestines. Lipase is primarily produced in the pancreas but is also produced in the mouth and stomach. Most people produce sufficient amounts of pancreatic lipase.
Along with lipase, the pancreas secretes insulin and glucagon, hormones that the body needs to break down sugar in the bloodstream. Other pancreatic enzymes include amylase, which breaks down amylose (a form of starch) into its sugar building blocks, and protease, which breaks down protein into single amino acids.
In general, lipase supplements are thought to help the body absorb food more easily, keeping nutrients at appropriate, healthy levels throughout the body. Clinical studies suggest that they may also be helpful for the following conditions:
Pancreatic enzymes have been studied as part of the treatment for celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition in which dietary gluten causes damage to the intestinal tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, weight loss, and fatigue. People with celiac disease must follow a strict diet that includes no gluten. Lipase, along with other pancreatic enzymes, may help in the treatment of this condition by enhancing the benefit of a gluten-free diet. In a clinical study of 40 children with celiac disease, for example, those who received pancreatic enzyme therapy (including lipase) demonstrated a modest increase in weight compared to those who received placebo. The improvement in weight occurred within the first month of use. Taking the pancreatic enzyme supplements for an additional month did not lead to more weight gain.