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What are Digestive Enzymes for Kids?

Published April 10, 2024

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Digestive health is vital for the overall well-being of our little ones, and understanding the role of digestive enzymes is key to supporting their digestive systems. But what exactly are digestive enzymes, and why are they important for kids' health? Let's review what science tells us about digestive enzymes for kids.

What are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive enzymes are specialized proteins produced by the body to break down food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by the body. These enzymes are secreted throughout the digestive tract and play a crucial role in facilitating the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

​​If your kiddo develops normally, then their digestive system will contain all the necessary digestive enzymes. However, there are many cases where the amount of endogenous enzymes excreted by the body is not enough, leading to deficiency.

3 Types of Digestive Enzymes

There are several types of digestive enzymes, each with its specific function:

  • Amylases: Break down carbohydrates into sugars like glucose and maltose.

  • Proteases: Digest proteins into amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

  • Lipases: Break down fats into fatty acids and glycerol.

Importance of Digestive Enzymes for Kids

Proper digestion is essential for kids to obtain essential nutrients for growth, development, and overall health. Digestive enzymes ensure that the nutrients from the foods kids eat are efficiently broken down and absorbed by their bodies. Without sufficient digestive enzymes, kids may experience digestive discomfort, nutrient deficiencies, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Research Supporting Digestive Enzymes for Kids

  • A  study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience found that digestive enzyme supplementation improved symptoms of digestive discomfort, specifically kids on the Autism Spectrum. 

  • Research also tells us that digestive enzyme supplementation can potentially play a role in supporting digestive disorders such as lactose intolerance. 

Incorporating Digestive Enzymes into Kids' Diets

While the body naturally produces digestive enzymes, some kids may benefit from additional enzyme support, especially if they have digestive issues or conditions that affect enzyme production. Digestive enzyme supplements, available in various forms like chewable tablets or powder, can help support kids' digestive health when used under the guidance of healthcare professionals.


Digestive enzymes are crucial for kids' digestion, helping break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into absorbable nutrients. Research supports the effectiveness of digestive enzyme supplementation in improving digestive symptoms and nutrient absorption in kids with gastrointestinal disorders. Incorporating enzyme-rich foods or supplements under healthcare guidance can support kids' digestive health and overall well-being.


  • Walkowiak, J., et al. (1999). Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy in children with malabsorption syndromes and pancreatic insufficiency. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 29(2), 172-176.
  • Domellöf, M., et al. (2003). Improvement in intestinal absorption of triglyceride in children with cystic fibrosis by high-energy diet. Nutrition, 19(6), 520-523.
  • Stern, R. C., et al. (1986). A comparison of the efficacy of pancreatic enzyme preparations in cystic fibrosis. Journal of Pediatrics, 108(6), 923-927.