Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux is a common problem affecting many people around the world. GERD is believed to be the most common gastrointestinal disorder and the prevalence in the US is between 18.1% to 27.8%.1 It presents with common symptoms including heartburn, regurgitation, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness, coughing, and chest discomfort.
Medicines help treat the condition effectively. However, it being a chronic condition, many people also take the help of over-the-counter products for symptomatic relief. It is believed that appropriate dietary control and lifestyle changes like reducing sugar intake, increase in dietary fiber, and changes in eating practices can help in managing acid reflux.2 In addition to medications, vitamins, and supplements for acid reflux are also popularly used these days.
7 Vitamins and Supplements To Help Control Acid Reflux
Also, certain dietary supplements and vitamins too can help control acid reflux. A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of a formulation of dietary supplements with vitamins, melatonin, and amino acids, as compared to omeprazole. After 40 days of treatment, it was noted that 100% of subjects receiving the formulation showed complete regression of symptoms as compared to 65% of the omeprazole group.3 This shows that vitamins and supplements for acid reflux can not only be helpful as nutritional support but also help control the symptoms.
Here are some of the most important vitamins and supplements for acid reflux:
- Vitamin B and Folate – It is believed that the vitamin B complex can help in relieving symptoms of acid reflux. Vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly linked with chronic stomach inflammation, which could be related to malabsorption.4 It is also essential for the normal function of the digestive system, thus making it an essential vitamin for acid reflux. Vitamin B6 and folic acid can help in reducing symptoms of acid reflux. These can be taken in their natural form through food sources or as a combination of supplements.
- Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone produced in the body and is responsible for the circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. It is known to have a role in managing sleep disorders but is also found to be useful in managing acid reflux. Melatonin offers protection against esophageal lesions. Studies conducted using a natural formula containing melatonin with other vitamins showed improvement in symptoms of acid reflux.5 Some studies have shown that oral melatonin can be effective in the treatment of GERD and could help in relieving heartburn and epigastric pain.6
- Antioxidants – Another important vitamins and supplements for acid reflux are the antioxidants. Acid reflux is a result of oxidative stress and inflammation. In such cases, antioxidant supplementation supports the system and helps increase levels of endogenous antioxidants, and decrease pepsin and gastric acid production, thus controlling ulceration, and subsequent damage to the gastric mucosa.7 Antioxidant therapy is considered supplemental therapy in the prevention or treatment of acid reflux.8 Antioxidants also include vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which can help fight free radicals and protect from inflammation.
- Betaine – Betaine Hydrochloride is used to increase stomach acid and is also considered an important supplement for acid reflux. When acid levels are low, it can slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients, resulting in symptoms of acid reflux. Some studies have shown that betaine helps in lowering pH value thus increasing acidic levels.9 This can be helpful in acid reflux, as long-term use of antacids can lower the acid production in the body, affecting digestion and absorption.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are healthy bacteria in the gut that help keep away harmful bacteria and protect the gut from diseases. They help in digestion and can be useful in digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics are known to be useful to control diarrhea, and certain intestinal infections and in improving gut function. Probiotics are also believed to protect the stomach lining from the attack of bacteria. This can control the inflammation and strengthen the mucosal barrier. Certain probiotics can help in the eradication of harmful bacteria thus making probiotics one of the essential supplements for acid reflux. It is found in yogurt but supplements are also widely used to prevent and manage digestive problems.
- Ginger Root – Ginger is a long known popular home remedy for gastric troubles. It contains phenolic compounds that can help ease nausea, digestion issues, and stomach irritation, and reduce levels of inflammation. Ginger and its compounds can help reduce gastric contractions that can increase the flow of acid secretions into the esophagus. Thus, ginger root can be considered one of the useful supplements for acid reflux.
- Tryptophan – Tryptophan is an essential amino acid necessary to make proteins. It has several uses and is also used to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Studies have shown that a formulation comprising melatonin along with Tryptophan and other nutrients helped control acid reflux. It is considered to be a useful supplement for acid reflux and type, dosage, and combinations are best decided by a medical expert.
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