Enzymes have often been referred to as the missing link to health. Even in the presence of sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals (which act as coenzymes and cofactors) water and other nutrients, life as we know it could not exist without the action of enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze (i.e. accelerate) chemical reactions. Enzymes are present in every cell and are responsible for regulating virtually all of the biochemical processes carried out, every day of life.
These biochemical processes, which are known as ‘Metabolism’ allows cells to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures and respond to their environments. The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into ‘Metabolic Pathways’, in which one chemical is transformed into another by a sequence of enzymes, often requiring dietary minerals, vitamins and other cofactors in order to function properly. Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they allow the desirable energy transformation needed to occur within a cell – these reactions are more accurately catalyzed, by enzymes.
Metabolism is a step by step modification of the initial molecule to shape it into another product. The result can be used in one of three ways:
- Stored by the cell
- Be used immediately as a metabolic product
- Initiate another metabolic pathway
Metabolism then is the complete set of chemical reactions, a process that results in the inter-conversion of chemical substances that occur in living cells. These reactions require energy. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories:–
Catabolism – is the set of metabolic pathways that break down molecules into smaller units and releases energy Anabolism – on the other hand uses this energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids
Most of the structures that make up animals, plants and microbes are made from three basic classes of molecule: amino acids (from protein), carbohydrates and lipids (often called fats). As these molecules are vital for life, metabolism focuses on making these molecules for the construction of cells and tissue, or breaking them down and using them as a source of energy. Enzymes are the catalysts that make these chemical reactions possible.