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How Do Vitamins Affect Enzyme Activity?

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Article summary:

  • Discover the connection between vitamins and enzymes.
  • Learn why vitamins are essential.
  • Find out why even if you take vitamins, you may need more enzymes in your diet.
  • See what your options for adding enzymes are.

We know we need vitamins. We also know that if we don’t get enough, our health suffers. But what exactly are vitamins, and what do they do?

This article will cover the relationship between vitamins and enzymes and why you need both to live a healthy, vibrant life. We will also share why plant enzymes supplements are as natural to the human body as the enzymes you produce.

What is the relationship between vitamins and enzymes?

Many people take a multivitamin supplement. Fewer take enzyme supplements. Yet, the two need each other.

  • Enzymes are protein molecules that serve one specific purpose – they speed up chemical reactions. Also called a catalyst, enzymes act upon another molecule or molecules to create new products. For example, digestive enzymes break down the sugars, amino acids, and fats in your food for absorption into the bloodstream.
  • Vitamins are organic molecules your body needs to assist enzymes in doing their jobs. Some vitamins act as these “coenzymes” while others metabolize, or break down, to supply the coenzyme needed. Folate (vitamin B-9) reduces into the THF coenzyme, for example.

How do vitamins help enzymes?

An enzyme is a lot like a key. It has a specific shape and purpose. Like a key opening a lock on a door, an enzyme at its active site unlocks a chemical reaction that breaks down or binds molecules. The active site is where the enzyme connects with the molecule that it will act on, called a substrate.

The shape of an enzyme defines its purpose. Looking back to our digestive enzyme example, some are amylases and break down sugars. Proteases break down proteins. Lipases break down fats.

So, where do vitamins come in?

Some enzymes need helpers to make the biochemical reactions possible. These coenzymes supply chemical components required by the enzyme to drive the reaction. 

Here’s what coenzymes do:

  • For redox reactions (where they break down a substance), they either transfer electrons to the substrate or take electrons away.
  • They add small molecular groups to the substrate called functional groups. These molecular groups are needed for the reaction to produce new substances.

Coenzymes in redox reactions get recycled, like those involved with adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a key cellular messaging molecule.

Different enzymes need different helpers, making all those vitamins your mother told you to eat essential for a healthy metabolism.

Do vitamins regulate chemical reactions in the body?

Some vitamins regulate chemical reactions, while others play an essential but complementary role in enzymes’ biochemical reactions.

Scientists have identified 13 vitamins you need in your diet. They divide into two groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E, and K – act more like hormones and perform several roles in your body. They directly contribute to these metabolic processes. For example, vitamin K helps to prevent excess blood clotting. Vitamin E protects cells against damage from free radicals, also known as oxidants.

Why are they called fat-soluble? They need fats to be digested and absorbed.

Water-soluble vitamins are typically the coenzymes. Your water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and your B complex vitamins, which include:

  • B1, thiamine
  • B2, riboflavin
  • B3, niacin
  • B5, pantothenic acid
  • B6, pyridoxine
  • B7, biotin
  • B9, folate also known as folic acid
  • B12, cobalamin

Each of the B vitamins acts as a coenzyme. For example, vitamin B6 becomes pyridoxal phosphate (PLP) and is needed for the many numerous PLP- dependent enzymatic reactions.[i]

Of these, however, vitamin C does not act as a coenzyme. It has a vital role in energy production (a process called the Citric Acid Cycle) and is more like the fat-soluble vitamins.

There is a good reason vitamin C is grouped with B vitamins. All of these vitamins all rely on water to be absorbed by your body.

If I get enough vitamins in my diet, do I need enzymes too?

Yes, you need both vitamins and enzymes in your diet.

You know how to get vitamins. A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables supplies plenty of all the vitamins you need. But you might be wondering about the enzymes, or if they can only be gotten through enzyme supplements (which would make sense since we sell enzyme supplements). There’s more to the story…

Our ancestors didn’t have access to supplements. (Of course.) Their enzymes came from the fresh fruits and vegetables they ate every day. And we know they ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. Researchers determined one group of our ancestors ate at least 135 grams of fiber every day.[i] Compare this to the 25-30 grams of daily fiber the American Heart Association recommends.[ii]

Now, you might be thinking, what does fiber have to do with enzymes?

Plants contain enzymes. Take, for example, this situation…you pluck a carrot from the ground, clean it off, and start eating it. You’ll be easting an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. The enzymes in it will also be released and help you digest it.

Those enzymes are plentiful because you ate it fresh from the ground.

If instead you had pulled it from the ground and then set it on your counter for a week…well, the enzymes would go to work inside the carrot, slowing breaking it down. When you eat it a week later, it has many fewer enzymes.

This second example reveals the challenge of long farm-to-table food chains via grocery stores. Even though you eat a fresh vegetable, it may contain many fewer enzymes.

The best ways to get vitamins and enzymes every day

You can get the vitamins and enzymes you need in three ways:

  1. Eat a well-rounded diet of fresh-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables
  2. Eat only fresh store-bought vegetables and take enzyme supplement if you find yourself developing common symptoms of enzyme deficiency like bloating, gas, and indigestion
  3. Eat the best you can and take vitamin and enzyme supplements to compensate as needed

The ideal is #1. In our world today, most of us probably find ourselves somewhere between #2 and #3.

Our entire portfolio of products fills in potential dietary gaps. Digest Infused is a digestive plant enzymes supplements. Flora Infused supplies probiotics. With our new and improved Cleanse Infused Plus, you get a safe, oxygen-based colon cleanse.

Regardless of how you choose to get your vitamins, just make sure you do!

A complete digestive enzyme matrix for maximum digestion of proteins, carbs, and fats.

[1] https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Pyridoxal-phosphate

[1] Slavin J. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health BenefitsNutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435. doi:10.3390/nu5041417.

[1] https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/

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