Lipase: Overview

Lipase describes a number of enzymes that catabolize lipid or fats.  Most often used in digestive enzyme preparations, lipase, or the pancreatic derived pancrelipase, helps the body break down the fat in the small intestines.  Lipase, when taken in higher doses is also thought to help break down circulating fat globules.

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Lipase is found in a variety of mammalian and microbial sources.  Look for lipase in a variety of enzyme formulations.

Function; Why it is Recommended

Lipase is the enzyme required to break down fats and lipids (to give mono- and diglycerides, glycerol and free fatty acids) and is produced in the pancreas before being released into the small intestine.

Digesting fats and lipids is difficult because they have to be carried by a water-based transport system – the blood and lymph.  Although fat digestion is not concentrated in the stomach, gastric lipase is the digestant to attend to this, and will digest egg yolk and cream, since they are already emulsified fats.  In order for fat to be digested properly, the liver starts this process by emulsifying the large fat molecules, and bile breaks it down to small droplets, allowing the lipase to start its work.

Fat digestion in the small intestine is reliant on a pancreatic secretion called pancreatin-containing lipase as well as the enzymes protease and amylase.

In some vegetarian diets, very little bile is produced since the liver is not stimulated to produce bile, with the result that the large fat molecules are not properly emulsified, making it difficult for the lipase to bind, leading to incomplete or reduced fat absorption.

A deficiency of lipase in the body may lead to high cholesterol, difficulty in losing weight, a tendency to diabetes, high urine sugar levels – which some believe could lead to arthritis, bladder problems, gall stones, hay fever, prostate problems, heart problems etc.

With too little lipase, the cell membranes' permeability is not at optimum, and nutrients cannot enter the cell, while wastes cannot leave the cell.

There is also a tendency amongst people suffering from being lipase deficient, to have a problem with electrolyte balance as well.

Muscle spasms and a spastic colon is also reported as being a symptom of lipase deficiency.

People suffering with a spastic colon may also be lipase deficient as well as the condition of vertigo (Meniere's Disease) which is dizziness made worse by movement.

People with a tendency to pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis may benefit from a lipase supplement as well as those with celiac disease, Crohn's disease, as well as those suffering indigestion and heartburn.


Betaine HCl or hydrochloric acid should not be taken with this in supplement form, as it might destroy this and other enzymes.


No toxicity or side-effects have been reported.

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