The pancreas is only 15 to 20 centimeters long. Nevertheless, this organ plays a crucial role in the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream because the gland produces enzymes that are able to further break down the food components by chemical means.
Food is first crushed and broken down by the teeth and stomach. The enzymes formed by the pancreas are necessary, however, for the basic components of the food – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates – to be broken down into a form that can be absorbed by the intestinal mucosa. The enzymes are released via the pancreatic duct into the duodenum that immediately follows the stomach in order to exert their effect there.