Amylase is an ingredient you may not be familiar with, primarily because it is produced by our own bodies and typically not listed on nutrition labels.
However, it is still important to our health and at LVLUP we list everything out. Let us take a look at amylase to learn how it does what it does, and why we need it to keep our bodies working in top condition.
What Is It?
Amylase is a digestive enzyme produced by our pancreas and also by our salivary glands.
Digestive enzymes are those enzymes in our bodies that act on the food we eat to digest it, or break it down into smaller parts that are more easily used by our bodies. Amylase in particular is a digestive enzyme that acts on the starches we eat.
What Is Its Biological Role?
Amylase works in two places: our mouth and our small intestine. Our salivary glands produce amylase that is secreted in our saliva. When we eat foods that contain starches, the chewing process mashes these foods and mixes them with saliva, starting the digestion process.
This step breaks down very large starches into smaller carbohydrates, such as maltose. When we swallow, this process stops as soon as the food reaches our stomach, because of how acidic the environment in our stomach is.
This acidic environment freezes the enzymatic actions of amylase, and further breakdown of the starches halts. When the food leaves our stomachs and enters the small intestine, it is greeted by a slightly different form of amylase that has been produced by our pancreas and transported to the small intestine to further digest the starches in our food.
After the salivary amylase breaks down starches into carbohydrates, the pancreatic amylase then breaks down those complex carbohydrates even further, into glucose.
Glucose molecules are small enough that they can be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine, where they then enter the bloodstream to be transported throughout the body and used as energy. This completes the digestive process of starches.
Amylase is also being studied for a variety of therapeutic uses, including support for autoimmune conditions, internal inflammation, and as a companion to certain cancer treatments.
How Does It Help Bodybuilders and People Who Work Out?
Everybody needs amylase, regardless of lifestyle. Our body’s production of this enzyme is essential for proper digestion  of foods we eat.
Some bodybuilders and competitive athletes choose to supplement with digestive enzyme blends that include, among other things, amylase, to ensure that they absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible from the foods they eat.
The belief is that maximizing your nutrient absorption gives you the most bang for your buck in terms of caloric intake.
What Foods Contain It?
Amylase is generally produced in sufficient quantity by our bodies. It can also be found in certain foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and sprouted seeds.
These are the sources from which supplemental amylase is isolated and mixed with other digestive enzymes for some enzyme supplements.
How Much Of It Do You Need?
Most people produce the proper amount of amylase themselves and do not need to ingest any extra.
However, some people produce too much or too little, so a blood test exists to check the levels of amylase in our blood. A normal reading is considered to be between 23 to 85 U/L.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Much Of It?
The amylase contained in the foods you eat will not typically have a significant effect on your blood amylase levels. If your body is producing too much amylase, though, high levels may be explained by a variety of conditions.
Some possible explanations include ectopic pregnancy, pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney failure, and diabetic ketoacidosis. In order to bring the blood amylase levels to normal, the typical treatment is to resolve the root cause of the elevated levels.
Are There Risks Associated With Consuming Too Little Of It?
Failure to eat a large amount of dietary amylase will not typically have a significant impact on your blood amylase levels. However, if your body fails to produce enough amylase  on its own, amylase deficiency can produce unpleasant symptoms.
These include type II diabetes, mood swings, allergies, skin rashes, trouble controlling blood glucose levels, and more. If you have an amylase deficiency, supplementing with a digestive enzyme blend may help to raise the levels of amylase in your body and reduce or even eliminate your symptoms.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about this important enzyme that helps us reap the nutritional benefits of the foods we eat, you are one step close to being your own best advocate for proper nutrition.
Hopefully this has given you a better idea of how our bodies handle the foods that we eat, which may shed some light on any difficulties you experience with current or future nutritional plans.
 Dr Group, Edward. The Health Benefits of Amylase. Global Healing Center, 2013.
 Dr Axe, Josh. 5 Remarkable Health Benefits of Amylase. Draxe.com, 2016.
 Wikander, M et al. Selective Deficiency of Pancreatic Amylase. National Library of Medicine, 1991.