Stomach Acid and GERD

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Lately, it seems like everyone is on medication for GERD or for heartburn.  Whether the medications suppress acid production or neutralize it, in the end there may be consequences of eliminating stomach acid, which is necessary for digestion.  When working with a client who is anemic and complaining that no matter how much spinach, red meat, and iron supplements they ingest, they just can’t raise their iron level, my first question is whether or not they take meds for heartburn. 

Many of the proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists will interfere with absorption of both iron and Vitamin B12.  Low levels of both can cause certain types of anemia.  You may be eating foods that are good sources of iron or B12 and still struggling with low levels. 

That said, don’t run to the medicine cabinet to throw away your anti-GERD meds, stopping them immediately can be incredibly uncomfortable and in sometimes down-right dangerous as they may be stopping damage to the esophagus that could lead to cancer.  You may be able to reduce or eliminate your medications for heartburn via working with your doctor and dietitian to learn how to treat heartburn naturally.

If you are taking medications that reduce acid production, it’s a smart idea to talk to your doctor about monitoring your iron and Vitamin B12 levels.  Your needs for these nutrients are going to be higher than for a person not taking these medications.  Good sources of iron are greens, beans, meat, fish, eggs, raisins, and prunes.   Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fortified products (cereals, milk substitutes).

Have you experienced anemia as a medication side effect?

4 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Lisa says:

    Yes, I think this is exactly my problem, which is why I’m going to get a doctor’s help to get off my meds. I’ve been taking them for 7 years now, and my iron levels are low, despite taking supplements. Wish me luck!

  • I’ve been iron & b12 deficient since I was born! I too, tried to raise my levels through whole foods. Unfortunately, many of us who struggle with different anemias can’t get the nutrients we need through food. Our stomachs lack intrinsic factor. I’ve had to turn to vitamin supplements (sublingual/liquid is best) to keep my levels healthy.

  • Dub says:

    I wanted to leat you know that I have really enjoyed your blog. You have thoughtful well writen posts. Lots of good information. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  • Robyn says:

    Thanks for the comments and feedback everyone! Lisa, good luck with your goal to reduce or eliminate your meds. My husband is currently working on the same project, so we should trade tips on what works.

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