Liquid Vitamins Contain Enzymes Because?
By Kristy Haugen
The more advanced liquid vitamin supplements today are starting to incorporate enzymes in their ingredients. Why do vitamin supplements need to supplement enzymes? This is a very good question. In order to answer this question, we need to familiarize ourselves with enzymes.
An enzyme is a protein that catalyzes, or speeds up, a chemical reaction. Enzymes are essential to sustain life. Most chemical reactions in our body would occur too slowly, or would lead to different products without the assistance of enzymes. In fact, it is estimated that digestion of one meal would take 50 years without the help of enzymes. The reason enzymes are able to speed up reactions is because they lower the energy of activation required to begin the reaction. This is the barrier that keeps many reactions from happening.
Enzymes have a specific pocket (the active site) that contains an amino acid side chain. The amino acid side chain creates a three dimensional surface. The active site of the enzyme binds to the substrate (the molecule being acted upon by the enzyme), forming an enzyme-substrate complex. This complex is converted to enzyme-product; which further breaks down to the enzyme and the product. It is important to understand that enzymes are never changed during the reactions nor are they consumed. Enzymes are simply catalysts in these reactions.
Enzymes are specific and very selective. They may catalyze only one reaction, or one specific class of closely related reactions. Some enzymes require the incorporation of a non-protein molecule to become catalytically active, referred to as cofactors (metal ions such as zinc, and iron) or organic molecules known as coenzymes, which are derivatives of vitamins (niacin and riboflavin). Lack of a particular vitamin or mineral can impair the action of its corresponding enzyme and lead to disease. This is an important reason to take a good daily vitamin supplement.
It is important to realize also that enzyme activity can be activated, regulated, and inhibited. This is done to ensure that the rate of the product formation responds to the needs of the cell. This is a way of our body keeping us in check, a natural balance. Inhibition of enzymes is typically seen in medications, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and antibiotics.
For most enzymes operating in the human body, the optimal temperature is 37 degrees Celsius or 98 degrees Fahrenheit. At higher temperatures, enzymes become denatured, meaning their three dimensional structure is destroyed and the enzyme becomes nonfunctional. If the enzyme only becomes partially denatured, it can sometimes regain its activity upon being cooled.
For each enzyme, there is also an optimal pH above and below which enzymatic activity declines. Many human enzymes have a maximal activity at pH around 7.2, which is the pH of most body fluids. However, there are exceptions such as, pepsin. This enzyme is most effective in the highly acidic conditions of the stomach, pH 2. The pancreatic enzymes work optimally in the alkaline conditions of the small intestine, pH 8.5.
Enzymes have a plethora of responsibilities in our bodies; digestion, metabolism of carbohydrates, and much more. Making sure we have all the ingredients to run like a well oiled machine is vital to our health. Advancements in health science recognize the need for enzyme supplementation and have taken the first step. Now you need to take the next, by making sure you feed your body the fuel it needs.
Copyright 2005 Kristy Haugen
About The Author
Kristy Haugen is a mother working to finish her second bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering. She is also a Licensed Practical Nurse with a current bachelor degree in Biology and Chemistry. She writes to quench her thirst for knowledge.