Digestive issues are a common complaint and can be uncomfortable and disruptive to one's everyday activities. However, many lifestyle modifications can help improve your digestive health. Supplements for better digestion may also help improve your overall digestive health, but which product is right for you?
We have compiled a list of the best supplements for digestion and provided criteria to help you evaluate the many different products on the market. As there is no one-size-fits-all supplement, it is important to asses each product and consider your digestive issues when selecting a product to ensure it best supports your digestive health.
Best supplements for digestion: a shortlist
- A Quality Life — overall best supplements for digestion
- Unbloat — best supplements for GI health
- Pure Essence Labs — best natural supplements for digestion
- HUM — best-priced digestive supplement
- Clear Wellness 360 — best supplements for stomach health
How to choose the best digestive supplements?
When selecting the best supplements for digestive health, it is important to individually evaluate each product using predefined criteria. The aspects of each product were evaluated using the criteria listed below.
|Digestive support||Provides broad digestive support or aid in single nutrient digestion|
|Quality ingredients||Use ingredients with scientific support for digestive health|
|Enzyme dosage||Contain adequate dosage of enzymes|
|Price to value||Number of servings per bottle|
|User reviews||Positive reviews by real users|
- Digestive support. Supplements for digestive issues can contain a wide range of different enzymes or a single enzyme targeting a single compound (e.g. lactose).
- Quality ingredients. Using ingredients backed by scientific evidence to help with digestive support.
- Enzyme dosage. Contains adequate dosages that have been shown to help improve symptoms.
- Price to value. Products offering sufficient servings per bottle at a reasonable cost can provide significant value for consumers.
- User reviews. Choosing supplements with positive user reviews can help select products with proven track records for delivering effective results.
Best supplements for digestive health: an overview
The gastrointestinal system enzymes help the body digest many different nutrients so they can be absorbed and used by the body. The gut is also populated with various bacteria and fungi that help with digestion and gastrointestinal tract health. However, disruptions in these processes can significantly impact your digestion and health, resulting in uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Identifying the best supplements for gut health and digestion can help improve your overall symptoms and provide digestive support. We have evaluated and determined the best supplements for intestinal health.
1. A Quality Life Digestive Enzyme — overall best supplements for digestion
Digestive Enzyme by A Quality Life provides a broad spectrum of digestive enzymes. Their blend of enzymes can help digest proteins and fats, in addition to lactose and fructose, to help support your overall digestion.
A Quality Life uses pH-protected enzymes to help prevent their breakdown by the acid within the stomach. This allows more enzymes to be available to help in improving digestion and alleviating intestinal symptoms of indigestion.
This product undergoes third-party testing to ensure the product contains the labeled amount of digestive enzymes and is free of harmful substances such as heavy metals.
The recommended dosage for Digestive Enzyme is to use one capsule twice daily, with the best results achieved when used 20–30 minutes before a meal. Using this dosage, one bottle provides a 30-day supply and will cost $35.95.
Therefore, with over 100 five-star reviews, this product has a track record of providing results.
2. Unbloat — best supplements for GI health
Unbloat utilizes 21 different enzymes, 7 live probiotic strains, and 6 herbal ingredients to provide a broad range of digestive support. The enzymes help digest proteins, fats, and commonly consumed sugars (lactose and fructose), which can lead to digestive discomfort for some.
By providing a wide variety of enzymes, Unbloat is suggested to help with digestion and improve intestinal symptoms. Each serving also provides 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics to support gut health.
The recommended dosage is 2 capsules per day, to be taken 30 minutes before or after a meal. Therefore, the cost of a 30-day supply will be $59.95. However, Unbloat offers a subscribe and save program to help provide additional savings, as well as bulk order savings.
This product has been reviewed over 750 times, providing it with a 4.7-star rating.
3. Pure Essence Real-Zymes™ VEGAN — best vegan supplements for digestion
Real-Zymes™ VEGAN is manufactured by Pure Essence Labs, specifically designed to aid in the digestion of vegan meals. It provides enzymes to help with the digestion of proteins, fats, and sugars, as well as enzymes to target fiber digestion, which can cause digestive troubles in some people consuming high amounts of plant-based foods.
Real-Zymes™ VEGAN has been formulated to provide dosages of each enzyme to target the digestion of commonly encountered foods in the vegan diet.
Using in-house lab testing, Pure Essence Labs triple-checks their product to ensure the ingredient accuracy of each batch.
Pure Essence Labs recommends taking one capsule of Real-Zymes™ VEGAN 15 minutes before a meal. Therefore, if using this product before your three main meals, a 30-day supply costs $56.69. However, additional savings are possible using their subscribe and save program and ordering multiple bottles at a time.
This product has received the 2018 Best Supplements Award by Better Nutrition for Digestive Health and the 2018 CPG Editor’s Choice Award by SupplySide West for Digestive Health.
4. HUM Flatter Me® Extra Strength — best-priced digestive supplement
Flatter Me® Extra Strength by Hum Nutrition provides 18 digestive enzymes and a herbal blend in each capsule. This provides a broad range of digestive support targeting protein, fat, sugar, and fiber components of meals.
A broad range of enzymes is included in the formulation to help with the digestion of a wide variety of meals, and it contains 50% more enzymes than the original strength of Flatter Me®.
Hum uses in-house and third-party laboratories to ensure the quality and safety of their products.
The recommended dosage for Flatter Me® Extra Strength is to take one capsule before your two main meals. This correlates to a 30-day supply costing $23.10.
This product boosts a 4.5-star rating with over 50 customer reviews.
5. Clear Wellness 360 Gut & Immunity — best supplements for stomach health
Clear Gut and Immunity by Clear Wellness 360 is formulated with Reishi and Slippery elm which has been traditionally used to improve digestion, but clinical trials are lacking to confirm any benefits.
Clear Gut and Immunity also provides 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of live probiotic bacterial strains to help support and improve the digestive process.
Clear Wellness 360 uses FDA-certified manufacturing facilities to ensure the safe and consistent production of their products.
The recommended dosing for Clear Gut and Immunity is to take 2 capsules, with or without food, every day. This consistency is key to maximizing the effects of this supplement. A 30-day supply costs $39 with additional savings if you enroll in their subscribe and save program.
Customer reviews have provided Clear Gut and Immunity with a 4.5-star rating.
Comparison of the top 5 digestive supplement brands
|Brand||Product||Price per serving||Contains digestive enzymes||Recommended dosing||User rating (out of 5 stars)|
|A Quality Life||Digestive Enzyme||$0.60||Yes||1 capsule twice daily||4.6|
|Unbloat||Unbloat||$0.99||Yes||1 capsule twice daily||4.7|
|Pure Essence Labs||Real-Zymes™ VEGAN||$0.63||Yes||1 capsule before each meal||N/A|
|HUM||Flatter Me® Extra Strength||$0.39||Yes||1 capsule twice daily||4.5|
|Clear Wellness 360||Gut & Immunity||$1.30||No||2 capsules daily||4.5|
* — The user ratings were taken from the manufacturers' websites.
Process of digestion explained
When food enters the stomach, highly acidic digestive juices and the normal churning of the stomach help break down large food particles into smaller ones. The main enzyme in the stomach, pepsin, begins to break down proteins together with another enzyme — gastric lipase — that starts fat digestion of the ingested food. The food is then passed into the small intestines.
The small intestine is filled with various enzymes produced by the pancreas as well as enzymes present on the brush border membrane of the small intestine. They function together to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into their sugar, amino acid, and fatty acid components. These smaller components, once absorbed, provide the body with the energy and building blocks needed for optimal functioning and development. The majority of these nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, and the waste products are passed through the colon and excreted.
Benefits of supplements for digestion
Proper digestion requires the appropriate enzymes to break down the carbohydrate, protein, and fat into smaller compounds to absorb it and use where necessary. A lack of these enzymes can result in uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Taking supplements for better digestion can help provide the following benefits.
Break down larger food particles
Supplements for the digestive system commonly contain enzymes that may aid in the digestion of macromolecules into smaller compounds that can be more easily absorbed. Like the primary role of the gastrointestinal tract, supplements designed for bowel health can enhance overall intestinal function and efficiency, assisting the body in acquiring essential nutrients for healthy growth and development.
Reduce GI symptoms
The best supplements for digestive problems contain enzymes that help digest components of food that may cause digestive issues for the individual. Insufficient enzymes in the body hinder the breakdown of food, causing it to move to the colon, where bacteria ferment it. This impaired breakdown can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea, which may be improved when supplemented with the correct enzyme.
Prevent nutrient deficiencies
Insufficient digestive enzymes or inhibited enzymatic activity can result in poor food digestion. This obstructs the absorption of essential nutrients, potentially causing nutrient deficiencies and subsequent negative health effects. Digestive supplements, like enzymes, can play a role by breaking down foods into smaller particles, facilitating their proper absorption, and preventing potential nutrient deficiencies.
Active ingredients that help with digestion
When researching supplements for digestion, the following active ingredients are often found as stand-alone components or used in combination to aid in digestive support.
Digestive enzymes are used to directly breakdown food components. Some products contain a single enzyme and are used to target a specific deficiency, such as in lactase, to help break down milk sugar lactose. Broad spectrum products contain multiple enzymes that target the different macromolecules, such as proteases for protein, lipases for fat, and lactase for lactose.
Probiotics consist of live strains of beneficial bacteria that are included in digestive aids to help balance bacteria in the gut. Two probiotic bacteria families that are often used and have shown benefits include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Both of these can be useful in maintaining a healthy gut and regularity of bowel movements. When evaluating products with probiotics, the dosages will often contain a number of colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions.
Prebiotics are often included to help maximize the effectiveness of probiotics. Prebiotics are a food source for the various helpful microorganisms in the gut included in supplements. Some examples include inulin and xylooligosaccharides. However, when considering supplements with prebiotics, more is not always better, as some prebiotics can lead to GI disturbances such as gas and bloating.
Zinc is an essential mineral responsible for the proper functioning of many different enzymes in the body and other cellular functions. In zinc deficiency, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and loss of taste can occur. Supplementation with zinc can improve these symptoms. Including this mineral in supplements may be particularly helpful in vegans and vegetarians who have a higher risk of developing a zinc deficiency.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that may offer the potential to relieve constipation. In addition, animal studies have shown magnesium to promote a healthy microbiome within the gastrointestinal tract, however, this finding has not been confirmed by human studies.
Supplements for digestion: dosage and usage recommendations
In general, it is important to stick to the recommended dosages of each product. As supplements are not regulated by the FDA, their usage and duration of use should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure the safety of these products.
When using digestive supplements that contain enzymes, these should usually be taken before meals to help with the digestion of macromolecules in your food.
Gauging whether a supplement is working requires monitoring for improvement in your gastrointestinal symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve, discuss them with your doctor.
Are supplements for digestion safe?
Supplements for digestion contain enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and other herbal ingredients that are generally regarded as safe for consumption. However, every situation is different; thus, discuss it with your doctor before starting.
Side effects of digestive supplements are generally mild and often result in gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Allergic reactions are possible with the use of these supplements, and monitoring for swelling and rashes is recommended.
Digestive supplements should be avoided if you have an allergy to any of the components of the product. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should refrain from using it as safety data is lacking. Patients with acute or chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) should also avoid the use of these supplements.
Other way to support digestion
Poor digestion can lead to several uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Minimizing these symptoms can help improve your quality of life and intestinal health. Some natural ways to improve your digestion include:
- Eat whole foods. These foods are rich in nutrients and unlike highly processed foods with artificial sweeteners and trans fats may result in fewer GI complaints.
- Increase dietary fiber. High fiber diets promote healthy bowel movements and can help to improve overall digestive health.
- Drink plenty of water. Hydration is important in regulating bowel movements and if deficient can result in constipation.
- Exercise. Increased activity will help promote healthy bowel function and reduce the risk of constipation.
- Manage stress. Excessive stress can manifest in GI symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Managing your stress levels can have a significant improvement in your GI symptoms.
Best supplements for digestion — conclusion
Healthy digestion is important to prevent disruptive symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Supplements for digestive health can be considered when dietary and lifestyle modifications have failed to work. These supplements are often combination products containing digestive enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and other herbal ingredients. Although they may support healthy GI functioning, it is important to discuss starting a supplement with your doctor to ensure it is right for you.
Explore more ways to improve gut health
5 best supplements for gut health to help improve your overall GI health.
Best probiotics for SIBO may be a beneficial complement to traditional therapy.
Best probiotics for IBS may help restore balance to your GI tract.
Best prebiotics supplements may help maintain a healthy microbiome.
Do digestive supplements interact with medications?
Yes. Digestive supplements cover a large spectrum of products with varying ingredients. Enzymes can interact with certain diabetes medications, while other preparations may interact with blood thinners. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking supplements to help identify any interactions.
What are the best digestive supplements to start with?
When selecting a digestive supplement, it is important to identify if there are specific foods that give you problems. If dairy products cause GI discomfort, a product with lactase may help digest the lactose. If no problem food is identified, consult a physician to select the right product.
How should digestive supplements be taken for maximum effectiveness?
Digestive supplements containing enzymes are most effective when taken 15–30 minutes before a meal. The enzymes must be present in the stomach and small intestine with your food to aid digestion. If supplements do not contain enzymes, they can be taken irrespective of meals, but always follow the product's usage recommendations.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Your Digestive System and How it Works.
- Physiological Reviews. Conservation of Digestive Enzymes.
- Gastroenterologia Japonica. Anorexia nervosa responding to zinc supplementation: A case report.
- Marine Drugs. Dietary Supplementation with a Magnesium-Rich Marine Mineral Blend Enhances the Diversity of Gastrointestinal Microbiota.