Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement

Why do I need Enzyme replacement?

A blockage in the pancreatic duct, or removal of part of the pancreas, can cause a change in the flow and amount of pancreatic juice.  Pancreatic juice contains enzymes that help the body to digest and absorb nutrients such as fat, carbohydrate and protein.

If your body cannot produce enough pancreatic juice, you will have difficulty getting nourishment from foods and eventually you will lose weight. Studies have shown that taking a pancreatic enzyme supplement can improve the absorption of nutrients from the digestive system, help nutrition and prevent weight loss.

Signs which indicate that taking enzyme supplements would be helpful are:

What are enzyme supplements?

All enzyme supplements contain Pancreatin – a mixture of pancreatic enzymes lipase, amylase and protease.  These assist the digestion of fat, carbohydrates and proteins.

On average patients need a minimum of between 200-250,000 units of lipase per day to avoid symptoms of malabsorption. In situations following surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas or where the pancreatic duct is blocked, patients may require additional enzyme supplementation to control symptoms.


The proprietary drug “Creon” is by far the most common preparation used in the UK (others are Nutrizym, Pancrease HL, and Pancrex). Creon comes in 3 capsule sizes:

Most adults take either 1 or 2 x 40,000 capsules / meal. These enzymes are extracted from pig pancreas glands and there is currently no alternative to using pork products. However, it is important to know that for those who may have religious objection to the ingestion of pork products, special dispensation to allow these products has been granted by religious organisations as they are a medicine.

How should I take Enzyme supplements?

If you are having a large meal with more than 2 courses, or one lasting more than half an hour, you may need to take half of your enzymes at the beginning and the other half in the middle of your meal.

When not to take enzyme supplements

A Dietitian can provide advice or supplementary information on managing your diet.

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