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Pancreatic enzymes are substances produced in your pancreas that play a vital role in food digestion. If you develop a condition called chronic pancreatitis, reduced or absent production of these enzymes can lead to an enzyme deficiency. Pancreatitis can also trigger the onset of a deficiency in your body’s normal supply of the mineral magnesium.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Your pancreas is a gland located in the area behind your stomach. When you eat, it releases digestive juices, which contain several types of pancreatic enzymes and another substance known as sodium bicarbonate. These juices enter your small intestine and specific enzymes within them break down the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in your food and prepare them for absorption into your bloodstream. Two pancreatic enzymes, called trypsin and chymotrypsin, break down protein, while the enzyme lipase breaks down fat. The pancreatic enzyme amylase breaks down carbohydrates.
- Your pancreas is a gland located in the area behind your stomach.
- When you eat, it releases digestive juices, which contain several types of pancreatic enzymes and another substance known as sodium bicarbonate.
Foods That Will Heal the Pancreas
Normally, your pancreatic enzymes don’t start working until they pass from your pancreas into your small intestine. However, in people with pancreatitis, these enzymes activate before leaving the pancreas and start attacking pancreatic tissue. Most people with this disorder initially experience painful, rapidly developing attacks that last for short periods of time. In some individuals, these attacks occur repeatedly over time and eventually become chronic, or ongoing, events. Potential causes of short-term, or acute, pancreatitis include genetic predisposition, excessive blood levels of a fat called triglyceride, the presence of mumps or other infections and the use of certain medications.cause:
- Potential causes of short-term
- or acute
- pancreatitis include genetic predisposition
- excessive blood levels of a fat called triglyceride
- the presence of mumps or other infections
- the use of certain medications
Most people with chronic pancreatitis are alcoholics, although the conditions that trigger acute attacks can also lead to chronic problems.
- Normally, your pancreatic enzymes don’t start working until they pass from your pancreas into your small intestine.
- However, in people with pancreatitis, these enzymes activate before leaving the pancreas and start attacking pancreatic tissue.
Pancreatic Enzyme Deficiency
If you have chronic pancreatitis, damage to your pancreas can entirely halt the production of pancreatic enzymes. Doctors refer to this situation as exocrine pancreatic failure 2. If your body is deficient in pancreatic enzymes, you can have significant problems digesting or absorbing the proteins and fats in your diet. Potential symptoms of these problems include unexpected weight loss and diarrhea that lingers over time. If your pancreas sustains enough damage, it can also stop producing the key hormone called insulin, which you need to control your blood sugar, or blood glucose. People who can’t control their glucose levels will develop the blood glucose disorder called diabetes.
- If you have chronic pancreatitis, damage to your pancreas can entirely halt the production of pancreatic enzymes.
- If your pancreas sustains enough damage, it can also stop producing the key hormone called insulin, which you need to control your blood sugar, or blood glucose.
Reasons for Elevated Amylase and Lipase
Chronic pancreatitis can trigger a magnesium deficiency by reducing your body’s ability to absorb this mineral from dietary sources, according to a study published in 2000 by researchers at Great Britain’s Imperial College of Medicine. Magnesium deficiency in people with chronic pancreatitis can also occur as a consequence of related cases of alcoholism or diabetes. Potential symptoms of deficiencies of this mineral include:
- sleep disorders
- heartbeat irregularities
- restless leg syndrome
- mental confusion or agitation
Consult your doctor for more information on pancreatitis and related deficiencies of magnesium or pancreatic enzymes.
Foods That Will Heal the Pancreas
Reasons for Elevated Amylase and Lipase
Side Effects of Gallstones
What Does a Low Lipase Level Indicate?
Elevated Liver & Pancreas Enzymes
What Causes the Blood Glucose Level to Increase in Liver Damage?
Early Symptoms of Pancreatitis
Does Magnesium Help Dissolve Gallstones?
Diet for Pancreatitis & High Sugar
Can Food Sensitivities and Allergies Cause Gallbladder Problems?
- American Gastroenterological Association: Understanding Pancreatitis; April 23, 2010
- Colorado State University: Exocrine Secretions of the Pancreas; R. Bowen
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- Afghani E, Pandol SJ, Shimosegawa T, et al. Acute pancreatitis-progress and challenges: a report on an international symposium. Pancreas. 2015;44(8):1195-210. doi:10.1097/MPA.0000000000000500
- Yadav D, Lowenfels AB. The epidemiology of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Gastroenterology. 2013;144(6):1252-61. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.01.068
- Krishna SG, Kamboj AK, Hart PA, Hinton A, Conwell DL. The changing epidemiology of acute pancreatitis hospitalizations: a decade of trends and the impact of chronic pancreatitis. Pancreas. 2017;46(4):482-488. doi:10.1097/MPA.0000000000000783
- Yoshida S, Okada H, Nakano S, et al. Much caution does no harm! Organophosphate poisoning often causes pancreatitis. J Intensive Care. 2015;3(1):21. doi:10.1186/s40560-015-0088-1
- Afghani E, Pandol SJ, Shimosegawa T. Acute Pancreatitis-Progress and Challenges: A Report on an International Symposium. Pancreas. 2015;44(8):1195–1210. doi:10.1097/MPA.0000000000000500
- Huh JH, Jeon H, Park SM, et al. Diabetes mellitus is associated with mortality in acute pancreatitis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2018;52(2):178-183. doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000000783
- Chatila AT, Bilal M, Guturu P. Evaluation and management of acute pancreatitis. World J Clin Cases. 2019;7(9):1006-1020. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v7.i9.1006
- Shah AP, Mourad MM, Bramhall SR. Acute pancreatitis: current perspectives on diagnosis and management. J Inflamm Res. 2018;11:77–85. Published 2018 Mar 9. doi:10.2147/JIR.S135751
- National Pancreas Foundation. Acute pancreatitis causes and symptoms.
- Mandalia A, Wamsteker EJ, DiMagno MJ. Recent advances in understanding and managing acute pancreatitis. F1000Res. 2018;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-959. Published 2018 Jun 28. doi:10.12688/f1000research.14244.2
- Uc A, Andersen DK, Bellin MD. Chronic pancreatitis in the 21st century - research challenges and opportunities: summary of a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases workshop. Pancreas. 2016;45(10):1365–1375. doi:10.1097/MPA.0000000000000713
- National Pancreas Foundation. Chronic pancreatitis causes and symptoms.
- Lew D, Afghani E, Pandol S. Chronic pancreatitis: current status and challenges for prevention and treatment. Dig Dis Sci. 2017;62(7):1702–1712. doi:10.1007/s10620-017-4602-2
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.