Stomach Acid essential for Calcium Absorption

Stomach Acid essential for Calcium Absorption

Do you often suffer from heartburn or an upset stomach � particularly after you eat? Do you feel bloated or gassy, or have irregular bowel movements? this might be sign of vacillating stomach acid.

Effective calcium absorption begins in the stomach. Calcium is broken down in the stomach by stomach acid, and then moves through the small intestine. In the intestine, it is actually mainly absorbed in the duodenum. It must be absorbed before the alkaline bile in the small intestine renders the intestinal environment too alkaline for the calcium to be absorbed. If this does not happen, the calcium will pass through without being used. The element calcium must go through this digestive process to be ionized or bio-available to your body. By the time this process takes place, you may end up with only 5% to 14% of usable calcium depending on the type of calcium. If the stomach produces too little stomach acid (hydrochloric acid), calcium remains insoluble and cannot be ionized, which is necessary for it to be assimilated in the intestines. Ionization is the process where an atom changes its structure so that it can combine with other elements.    

The proper level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach is so important that its lack in the digestive process can account for as much as 80 percent loss of available calcium absorption. Studies show stomach acid secretion decreases with age, and, by menopause,  40 percent of women may be severely deficient in this natural stomach acid. 


After age 60 you produce only 25% of the stomach acid you did when you were 20. In Menopause it is estimated that 40% of the women do not have enough stomach acid to digest calcium supplements. After 45, in females there tends to be insufficient hydrochloric acid to break down the calcium in the stomach. In the aged this becomes much worse. In many cases the function of both the stomach acid and intestines is greatly impacted. They may not be able to absorb enough calcium to prevent falls and fractures.

Why fall in Stomach Acid?

Stomach Acid essential for Calcium AbsorptionFactors leading to reduced stomach acid production include a diet of over-cooked, over-processed, lifeless foods which no longer contain naturally occurring enzyme activity, as well as the excess consumption of antacid medications. Other factors that might adversely affect calcium absorption would include: Poor intestinal health such as those suffering from Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis experience.  Mineral imbalance with phosphorus such as might be caused by an over consumption of high phosphorus foods like meats, processed snack foods and especially carbonated soft drinks which contain phosphoric acid. Caffeine, which can bind with calcium and through its natural diuretic action, increase the excretion of many minerals. This diuretic action would also be a result of excess alcohol consumption.

Low levels of calcium in the blood (especially one particular form of calcium, called free ionized calcium) may cause a condition called tetany, in which nerve activity becomes excessive. Symptoms of tetany include muscle pain and spasms, as well as tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet.

Dietary Modifications to Improve Stomach Acid Levels:

  1. Increase your fiber intake with cereals such as bran. Watch out, the daily diet should include 18g of fibre obtained from ordinary foods - not concentrated bran or bran tablets

  2. Drink at least eight glasses of filtered water a day.

  3. Eat raw, crushed garlic, which contains allicin, an antimicrobial compound that combats bacteria.

  4. If you're not lactose intolerant, consume plain, unpasteurized yogurt with active cultures.

  5. Eat wild-caught salmon, albacore tuna, avocados and sprouted nuts (but not peanuts) to elevate your omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Foods and beverages to reduce or avoid:

Stomach Acid essential for Calcium AbsorptionSome foods contain oxalic acid which binds with calcium making the calcium unable to be absorbed. Foods with oxalic acid include Swiss chard, spinach, tomato, beet greens, cocoa, soybeans, cashews, and kale. High phosphate diets which include excessive red meat and carbonated soft drinks hinder calcium absorption. High fat diets are a problem because they cause deficient bile production. Caffeine drinks cause the kidneys to expel Calcium at a higher rate. So does excessive alcohol, by causing acid reflux . Avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. Sugar encourages bacterial growth. This increases your need for Calcium.

Any nutritional program that wishes to properly address osteoporosis and other conditions caused by a lack of calcium and calcium absorption MUST include supplements which provide for the adequate replacement of lost stomach acid.

Note: Always seek a doctor's advice before taking medication.


- WF Team

Dated 13 December 2011


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