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.
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 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:
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.”
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
- stomach bloating
- upset stomach
- nausea from supplements
- rectal itching
- weak, peeling/cracked fingernails
- dilated capillaries in cheeks/nose(in non-alcoholics)
- post adolescent Acne
- iron deficiency
- other mineral deficiencies
- chronic intestinal infection
- undigested food in stool
- ridges/lines on fingernails
- pins and needles]
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: