Low stomach acid
17 June 2022
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) suppress stomach acid. Stomach acid is essential for our digestive and overall health. And lack of stomach acid is linked to a variety of adverse health consequences including:
- Poor digestion
- Bacterial overgrowth, especially in the small intestine
- An increased risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies impacting vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron & magnesium
In the case of B12…. Here’s how: Vitamin B12 binds to the protein in the foods we eat. In the stomach, stomach acid and enzymes liberate vitamin B12 into its free form. From there, vitamin B12 combines with a protein called intrinsic factor so that it can be absorbed further down in the small intestine. If there is a lack of stomach acid the liberation cannot happen!
Following are the 5 common causes to a situation of a low stomach acid:
- Acid-reducing drugs: if you are taking PPIs or H2 blockers, you will most certainly have low stomach acid. This is because PPI binds to the parietal cells’ (the production house) acid pumps and permanently blocks acid production
- Chronic H Pylori Infection: Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium shaped like a corkscrew that burrows through the mucus and sticks to the lining of your stomach. Depending on where these H pylori infectious colonies are in your stomach, you can also have low (body stomach) or high (antrum of stomach) stomach acid
- Pernicious Anaemia (Autoimmune Atrophic Gastritis): this occurs when your immune response – antibodies attack parietal cells, losing functionality including the ability to produce stomach acid. Your parietal cells can also lose the ability to produce intrinsic factors to absorb vitamin B12. Hence the name pernicious anaemia, low B12 and you can become anaemic.
- Frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medicines (NSAIDs): NSAIDs (aspirin and ibuprofen, for example) irritate and damage the stomach over time and this can cause atrophic gastritis; loss of stomach acid
- Deficiency in minerals or electrolytes: Zinc, sodium and other electrolytes are required to produce stomach acid. So looking at them through an expanded blood test with your practitioner is very helpful.
If you are concerned that this could be you, work with someone that can map your case properly, understanding your risk factors and work with you accordingly. My affiliate mentoring group of 42 practitioners are a wonderful group that can help - as we are mapping cases like this and helping many clients on their health journey.