Hydrochloric acid is produced by certain cells in the stomach as a means of digesting fats and proteins. This acid can decrease with age and create digestion problems. Symptoms such as bloating and gas may present after eating if hydrochloric acid levels drop. A hydrochloric acid supplement (HCL) is typically ingested before, during and after meals and aids in breaking down proteins and amino acids. The supplement should be taken with caution if there are already normal levels of hydrochloric acid present as this may increase the possibility of ulcers developing.
Many people with food allergies tend to have problems with levels of hydrochloric acid and its secretion in the stomach. Sometimes the levels can be completely depleted or there may be a problem with the amount that is secreted. This is called hypochlorhydria. If this is suspected, a physician may recommend a Heidelberg gastrogram. This is a procedure to check the patient’s ability to properly secrete hydrochloric acid.
If this test confirms that the patient is unable to sufficiently secrete the acid, a physician may recommend a hydrochloric acid supplement. This course will typically be introduced gradually to prevent ulceration. People over the age of fifty may be helped by a hydrochloric acid supplement that is taken with meals to help food breakdown and utilization of nutrients. Chronic stress can also be a factor that causes hydrochloric acid levels to decrease.
Some of the symptoms of hypochlorhydria can include heartburn, dilated blood vessels of the cheeks and nose, brittle finger nails, diarrhea and acne. There are other conditions that can be found in conjunction with hypochlorhydria and these can include asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis and hives. A deficiency in stomach acids can also lead to malnutrition regardless of how good the diet may be. People that are suffering from this condition may often feel hungry even though they are eating in sufficient quantities. Certain antacids and ulcer medications, as well as foods high in sugar can cause hypochlorhydria to occur.
A hydrochloric acid supplement can come in a number of forms. Some of these can include HCL liquid, betaine HCL and glutamic HCL. Liquid HCL comes in a liquid form, whereas betaine HCL can come in a capsule form and glutamic in a powder form. It is recommended that a pepsin supplement be taken along with the HCL supplements. Pepsin is an enzyme that aids in digestion and is naturally occurring in the stomach.