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Lipase Enzymes Function and Diseases that Can Reduce Levels

Lipase enzymes function to break down fatty substances in food to be more easily digested and absorbed by the body. This enzyme is generally produced when the body gets fat intake. However, sometimes the body cannot make enough lipase enzymes, causing digestive disorders.

Lipase enzyme is a type of digestive enzyme. Most lipase enzymes are produced in the pancreas, but these enzymes are also produced in other organs, such as the stomach and liver. Lipase is also produced in the mouth, fat tissue, and blood vessel walls.

The function of the lipase enzyme in humans

The main lipase enzyme in the human body needs to be understood also its very important function. Not only as a digestive enzyme lipase also has a variety of functions that are not less important as follows:

1. Digest fat

As one of the three main digestive enzymes, lipase has the task of converting the fat consumed through food into simpler compounds for the body to absorb. Fats that are generally in the form of long-chain triglycerides will be broken down into shorter chains before being converted to glycerol (fatty alcohol) and fatty acids.

2. Transport cholesterol

Another important function of the lipase enzyme is that it helps carry cholesterol throughout the body through the blood. A specific lipase enzyme called LCAT (lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase) combines cholesterol with fatty acids into a package of transport molecules that can be transferred through the bloodstream. These molecular packages are better known as LDL and HDL or often also referred to as bad cholesterol and good cholesterol.

Read Also : Beware of Various Diseases due to High Cholesterol

3. Helps baby digest fat

When a newborn baby's digestive system is not fully functioning properly. One drawback is its inability to digest fat. This is where the function of the lipase enzyme works, by excreting it into breast milk. This enzyme will help the newborn to break down the fat obtained from milk.

4. Control cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health

Given the main function of the lipase enzyme in digesting fats, including cholesterol. So when a deficiency of the lipase enzyme a person can experience accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) in the body. This condition is very dangerous for health because it can trigger high levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood.

5. Maintain digestive health

Lipase enzyme collaborates with two other enzymes namely amylase and protease in the process of digestion of food. Lipase is responsible for digesting fat, while amylase takes care of carbohydrates and proteases break down proteins. When these three enzymes are at a sufficient level, the digestive process will run optimally and prevent it from problems such as celiac disease or cystic fibrosis.

6. Helps to lose weight

Several studies have shown that the lipase enzyme can function as an indicator of the success of weight loss in obese people. Research has also found a way to make synthetic lipases that can work three times more powerful and can improve fat digestion by up to 45% than normal conditions.

Read Also : 12 These Foods Are Powerful to Burn Fat and Reduce Weight

7. Increase the absorption of nutrients

Having sufficient levels of the lipase enzyme will help the body more easily break down and absorb nutrients in the form of vitamins or minerals from food. So the body not only needs to eat healthily but also needs to be sufficient for important enzymes, one of which is the lipase enzyme.

Diseases That Cause Lipase Enzyme Deficiencies

Normal lipase enzyme levels in the adult body range from 0-160 U / L. Under normal conditions, the lipase enzyme will be produced in sufficient quantities to digest fat. However, when the pancreas is damaged or disturbed, the amount of the lipase enzyme produced may be less or even excessive.

There are several diseases that can cause a deficiency of the lipase enzyme in the body, namely:

1. Celiac disease

This disease causes interference with the immune system so that sufferers can not consume gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat and barley.

When sufferers of celiac disease consume food or drinks that contain gluten, then the immune system will overreact. This will then cause inflammation and damage in the damaged digestive tract.

Patients with celiac disease will experience several symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, muscle aches, weakness, or constipation, after consuming gluten.

2. Cystic fibrosis

This disease causes mucus in the body to become thick and sticky. The mucus can make the pancreatic duct blocked, thereby preventing digestive enzymes from moving to the intestine. As a result, the body becomes difficult to absorb nutrients from food.

Symptoms that arise in this disease vary, depending on which organ is affected. If it attacks the digestive tract, cystic fibrosis can cause symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, oily stools, abdominal pain, until weight loss continues to decrease.

3. Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. The exact cause of this disease is not yet known but is thought to be related to heredity, unhealthy eating patterns, severe stress, to disorders of the immune system.

This disease can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody bowel movements, to malnutrition.

Sufficient Lipase Enzyme Needs

If your body cannot produce enough lipase or other digestive enzymes, your doctor will prescribe an enzyme supplement to replace the lacking enzyme.

Although generally quite safe to consume, lipase enzyme supplements can cause side effects, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. This supplement is not recommended for drinking by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

The use of lipase enzyme supplements in high doses needs to be monitored because it can worsen the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. Lipase supplements can also have a drug interaction effect if taken together with orlistat.

To find out whether the amount of the lipase enzyme in the body is sufficient, an examination by a doctor is needed. The doctor will do a physical examination and blood test to measure the levels of the lipase enzyme and other digestive enzymes.



  1. National Institutes of Health (2019). U.S. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Celiac Disease.
  2. Mayo Clinic (2019). Diseases & Conditions. Crohn's Disease. 
  3. Bolen, B. Verywell Health (2019). Types and Functions of Digestive Enzymes. 

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