Stomach Acid

Stomach Acid is one of the most important elements in digestion. Acid breaks down proteins, is necessary for absorption of many minerals as well as vitamin B12, and provides defense against food poisoning, parasites, and other infections (even pneumonia!)

In addition to increasing the risk of problems with digestion and infection as above, low stomach acid can cause a number of other symptoms:
  • Bloating and belching
  • A sense of fullness after eating
  • Multiple food allergies
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Itching around the anus
  • Weak, ridged, and cracked fingernails
  • Rosacea (redness and dilated blood vessels on the face)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Heartburn (since acid is one of the things that makes the sphincter close to keep stomach contents in the stomach instead of backwashing up into the esophagus)

Many people are low in stomach acid because of medications (the "purple pill" and other acid blockers, but even without these medications some people will not produce adequate stomach acid. One common cause of this is age: by age 60, half of people tested have low stomach acid, and the number increases to 80% of people over age 85.

Treatments to address this low acid condition include:
Betaine HCl supplementation
Vinegar with meals (2-3 tsp)
Lemon juice with meals (2-3 tsp)