The parietal cells of the stomach produce HCl and secrete it primarily in response to ingested protein or fat. Stress also may stimulate acid output. When we eat more frequently than required by the body or over-consume fats and proteins, acid production begins to decrease. With low stomach acid levels, there can be an increase in bacteria, yeasts, and parasites growing in the intestines.
An HCl supplement may improve digestion of meals containing protein and/or fat, although not for such foods as rice and vegetables, which are largely carbohydrate and thus need less HCl for digestion. Hydrochloric acid is available primarily as betaine hydrochloride. Betaine may be used alone, in supplements, or along with pepsin or other digestive agents.
The use of HCl support is part of the antiaging process. The digestive tract and its function may be the single most important body component determining health and disease.
Signs of deficiency:
- Poor digestion, with such symptoms as gas, bloating, and discomfort after rich meals
- Iron deficiency anemia
- General allergies
- Food allergies including “leaky gut”
- Decreased HCl secretion in people with eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, vitiligo, and tooth and periodontal disease
Source: Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. New York, Ten Speed.