Lipase is an enzyme that is used by the body to break down dietary fats into an absorbable form.
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Up to 10,000 IU daily per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) body weight or 500 to 1,000 lipase units per gram of fat consumed in the diet
People with cystic fibrosis tend to have insufficient pancreas function. Supplementing with pancreatic enzymes will often lead to improved digestion, especially of fats.
People with CF tend to have insufficient pancreas function. Supplementation with pancreatic enzymes will often lead to improved digestion, especially of fats. The current recommendation for people with cystic fibrosis is to supplement with pancreatic enzymes at meals. Amounts should not exceed 10,000 IU of lipase per day per 2.2 pounds body weight1 or 500 to 1,000 lipase units per gram of dietary fat consumed,2 as larger amounts may damage the large intestine. A double-blind trial found enteric-coated microsphere enzyme preparations to be superior to enteric-coated capsules for reduction of abdominal pain and improvement of digestion.3Because pancreatin is rapidly emptied from the stomach during digestion, people taking these enzymes may obtain better results by spreading supplementation throughout the meal.4
Refer to label instructions
Lipase may be beneficial for people who do not produce adequate digestive secretions from the pancreas, a common occurrence with celiac disease.
People with celiac disease often do not produce adequate digestive secretions from the pancreas, including lipase enzymes5 In a double-blind trial, children with celiac disease who received a pancreatic enzyme supplement along with a gluten-free diet gained significantly more weight in the first month than those treated with only a gluten-free diet.6 However, this benefit disappeared in the second month, suggesting enzyme supplements may only be useful at the beginning of dietary treatment.
Refer to label instructions
People with Crohn’s disease may be deficient in lipase. Supplementing with enzymes might improve the malabsorption that is associated with the disease.
People with Crohn’s disease may be deficient in pancreatic enzymes, including lipase.7 In theory, supplementing with enzymes might improve the nutrient malabsorption that is often associated with Crohn’s disease. However, people with Crohn’s disease considering supplementation with enzymes should consult a doctor.
Products that contain lipase also usually contain other enzymes that help digest carbohydrates and protein. In the U.S., pancreatin, which contains lipase, amylase, and proteases, is rated against a government standard. For example, “9X pancreatin” is nine times stronger than the government standard. Each “X” contains 25 USP units of amylase, 2 USP units of lipase, and 25 USP units of proteolytic enzymes. Taking 1.5 grams of 9X pancreatin (or a higher amount at lower potencies) with each meal can help people with pancreatic insufficiency digest food.
Most of the body’s lipase is manufactured in the pancreas, although some of it is secreted in the saliva, as well. Pancreatin contains lipase along with two other groups of enzymes: proteases and amylase.
1. Littlewood JM, Wolfe SP. Control of malabsorption in cystic fibrosis. Paediatr Drugs 2000;2:205-22.
2. Borowitz DS, Grand RJ, Durie PR. Use of pancreatic enzyme supplements for patients with cystic fibrosis in the context of fibrosing colonopathy. Consensus committee. J Pediatr 1995;127:681-4.
3. Vyas H, Matthew DJ, Milla PJ. A comparison of enteric coated microspheres with enteric coated tablet pancreatic enzyme preparations in cystic fibrosis. A controlled study. Eur J Pediatr 1990;149:241-3.
4. Taylor CJ, Hillel PG, Ghosal S, et al. Gastric emptying and intestinal transit of pancreatic enzyme supplements in cystic fibrosis. Arch Dis Child 1999;80:149-52.
5. Patel RS, Johlin FC Jr, Murray JA. Celiac disease and recurrent pancreatitis. Gastrointest Endosc 1999;50:823-7.
6. Carroccio A, Iacono G, Montalto G, et al. Pancreatic enzyme therapy in childhood celiac disease. A double-blind prospective randomized study. Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:2555-60.
7. Hegnhoj J, Hansen CP, Rannem T, et al. Pancreatic function in Crohn's disease. Gut 1990;31:1076-9.
8. Patel RS, Johlin FC Jr, Murray JA. Celiac disease and recurrent pancreatitis. Gastrointest Endosc 1999;50:823-7.
9. Hegnhoj J, Hansen CP, Rannem T, et al. Pancreatic function in Crohn's disease. Gut 1990;31:1076-9.
10. Suarez F, Levitt MD, Adshead J, Barkin JS. Pancreatic supplements reduce symptomatic response of healthy subjects to a high fat meal. Dig Dis Sci 1999;44:1317-21.
Last Review: 07-08-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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