What is Hypochlorhydria?

Hypochlorhydria illustration - vitamin B12 trapped in protein because there's too little stomach acid to free it
Hypochlorhydria is the condition of insufficient gastric acid to release vitamin B12 from the protein in food

Imagine, if you will, that the illustration shows all the lovely B12 from the delicious steak dinner you just had. And, you’ve lowered your stomach acid by taking an antacid, so you’re not having any indigestion. Things couldn’t be better! Except, the B12 is trapped inside the steak protein because vitamin B12, like magnesium, can’t be released from protein without gastric acid, also known as hydrochloric acid. What a shame to not get the health benefits of B12 from the steak you ate.

Plus, hydrochloric acid stimulates the pancreas to release enzymes and bile into the small intestine for the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins A and E. Without enough hydrochloric acid you can have malnutrition despite an excellent diet. Low hydrochloric acid, then, is a serious condition known as hypochlorhydria.

h.pylori – spiral bacteria that burrow into stomach lining

Antacids aren’t the only culprit when it comes to hypochlorhydria. h. pylori is a spiral shaped bacterium that borrows into the stomach lining and reduces gastric acid production. In many cases, h.pylori precedes hypochlorhydria, and likely causes it. Researchers have been amassing evidence that h.pylori is responsible for most peptic ulcers, many of which lead to stomach cancer. Studies have shown that h. pylori increases cancer risk by causing hypochlorhydria. Toxigenic Helicobacter pylori infection Clin Cancer Res. 2008.

See Diarrhea regarding Shedding h.pylori.

See Yogurt Making regarding inhibiting h.pylori

Warning Signs of Hypochlorhydria

Bloating, burping or flatulence can be signs of hypochlorhydria. When you don’t have enough stomach acid your food doesn’t digest properly. Consequently you may find yourself with bloating, etc.

Allergies can be a sign that undigested food particles are getting into your lower intestine.

GERD, a condition where stomach acid rises into the esophagus, giving the impression there’s too much stomach acid, may actually be a sign of too little stomach acid.

Premature aging may be a sign of insufficient stomach acid. The reason for this is that people with low stomach acid are likely to have poor nutrition because their bodies are unable to get certain essential nutrients from food.

Cramps in your legs or feet at night are a warning sign that hypochlorhydria is causing poor magnesium absorption.

Hypochlorhydria, Magnesium and Your Metabolism

Hypochlorhydria, that is “insufficient stomach acid”, causes poor magnesium absorption and that in turn critically affects metabolism.

I actually now believe that a low red cell magnesium is a symptom of mitochondrial failure. It is the job of mitochondria to produce ATP for cell metabolism and about 40% of all mitochondrial output goes into maintaining calcium/magnesium and sodium/potassium ion pumps. I suspect that when mitochondria fail, these pumps malfunction and therefore calcium leaks into cells and magnesium leaks out of cells. This, of course, compounds the underlying mitochondrial failure because calcium is toxic to mitochondria and magnesium necessary for normal mitochondrial function. This is just one of the many vicious cycles we see in patients with fatigue syndromes… I see low magnesium almost routinely in patients with fatigue syndromes. Dr. Myhill. Read more.

I wondered what “red cell magnesium” was, exactly. I didn’t want to jump to the conclusion it must mean “red blood cell,” and then find out it means something different. After some googling I found the following, where Dr. Myhill talks about a preferred test:

This test measures the amount of the mineral magnesium inside the red blood cells. This is the test I do most often, partly because I see many patients with fatigue, partly because it is a very common deficiency and partly because it is a very difficult mineral to correct.
Most doctors do not understand the difference between a serum magnesium and a red cell magnesium. Serum levels must be kept within a tight range, or the heart stops. Therefore serum levels are maintained at the expense of levels inside cells. Most labs just do serum levels and patients are told their magnesium is normal. Read more.

Dr. Myhill offers an interesting observation about serum tests for deficiencies, “Serum levels are maintained at the expense of intracellular levels. If serum levels of magnesium change this causes heart irregularities and so the body maintains serum levels at all cost. It will drain magnesium from inside cells and indeed from bone in order to achieve this.”
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47% of Americans have hypochlorhydria?

An estimated 47% of people in the U.S. have hypochlorhydria, partially due to increased use of antacids marketed as a good source of calcium. If you have hypochlorhydria your vitamin B12 levels are most likely very low.

Natural Remedies for Hypochlorhydria

Licorice, glutamine, gentian, acupuncture, stimulation of nerves to the stomach through chiropractic all help increase gastric acid.

Symptoms of Low Hydrochloric/Stomach Acid

Using hydrochloric acid or methylcobalamin

Hydrochloric acid, HCL, can be taken by capsule and is excellent to counteract low gastric acid.

If you have peptic ulcers, gastritis, or take NSAIDS, then hydrocholoric acid is not recommended.

Methylcobalamin is a safe, effective alternative to HCL. It replaces the B12 that is radically missing when someone has Hypochlorhydria.

In my experience, Betaine HCL with pepsin is fine, and is not irritating.

Worth a read:

Is Your Antacid Dulling Your Memory?

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What is Hypoclorhydria?
Article Name
What is Hypoclorhydria?
Without enough stomach/gastric acid you can have malnutrition despite an excellent diet. Thus, low stomach acid is a serious condition known as hypochlorhydria.
Publisher Name
Health Boundaries
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