What enzyme breaks down carbohydrates?


Quick Answer

Several enzymes are involved in the breakdown of carbohydrates, including salivary amylase, pancreatic amylase, maltase, sucrase and lactase. The enzymes are required for the breakdown of complex carbohydrates but not for simple carbohydrates.

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Full Answer

Salivary amylase is present in a person's saliva. It acts on carbohydrates while they are present in the mouth, where the food is chewed and broken into smaller pieces. Salivary amylase breaks down carbohydrates into maltose.

Pancreatic juices contain pancreatic amylase and break carbohydrate units further into maltose. Maltase breaks maltose into glucose. Sucrase and lactase are present in the small intestine. They break down table sugar and milk sugar, respectively.

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