Acid reflux: the unwelcome guest interrupting your meals, sleep, and sometimes, even your enjoyment of life.
For the millions suffering from this condition across the globe, the quest for relief is ongoing. However, there’s hope found in an unexpected place: a nutrient renowned for its role in bone health and immunity — Vitamin D.
Well, this unconventional yet powerful sunshine dose changed my life. Do you want to know how Vitamin D cured my acid reflux?
Then let’s peel back the layers of how and why vitamin D could be a game-changer in managing acid reflux and why gastroenterologists recommend this ‘sunshine vitamin’ for their patients.
The Connection Between Vitamin D and Acid Reflux
Vitamin D often called the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in many bodily functions. Most notably, it’s crucial for calcium absorption and bone health1. Beyond that, vitamin D is involved in immune system regulation and may even have protective effects against chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers.
But can vitamin D help with acid reflux?
GERD, or acid reflux, affects 20% of Americans when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. If untreated, it can cause serious complications.
The most common symptom of acid reflux is a burning sensation in your chest or heartburn, usually after eating. It might be worse at night. The discomfort often rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat, or jaw angle.
However, acid reflux is not always accompanied by heartburn. Other symptoms can include-
- regurgitation of food or sour liquid,
- difficulty swallowing,
- the feeling of a lump in the throat,
- chronic cough.
How Vitamin D Cured My Acid Reflux?
My journey with acid reflux started over a decade ago. It was an occasional annoyance, but it became a daily struggle. The heartburn and discomfort started affecting my eating habits, sleep, and quality of life.
Despite consulting several gastroenterologists, modifying my diet, and taking prescription medications, acid reflux symptoms persist on most days.
Then, during a routine check-up, my doctor mentioned that my vitamin D levels were significantly lower than they should be. So, he suggested me a vitamin D supplement regime.
Taking vitamin D supplements as directed by my doctor has significantly improved my acid reflux symptoms. I experience fewer and less severe episodes of heartburn and less discomfort while eating.
This unexpected result piqued my curiosity, leading me to delve into the world of research to understand the possible connection.
Remember that what works for me may not work for you. Talk to your healthcare provider first if you have chronic acid reflux and want to take vitamin D supplements.
Does Vitamin D Help With Acid Reflux: What Research Says?
Preliminary studies have suggested that people with chronic acid reflux or GERD often have lower vitamin D. So, supplementing with vitamin D could help strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle prevents stomach acid from traveling back into the esophagus.
Vitamin D and Digestive Muscle Health
The LES is a muscle valve that lets food go into the stomach from the esophagus. But if it relaxes incorrectly, acid can back up and cause heartburn. It can be caused by high stomach pressure or weak LES muscles.
Vitamin D receptors affect digestive system cells, including those in the esophagus, and the LES and pyloric sphincter control food passage to the small intestines.
Low vitamin D can weaken the pyloric sphincter, causing semi-digested material to move back from the small intestines to the stomach. It can create gas and pressure on the LES, leading to acid reflux and heartburn.
Vitamin D Deficiency And Acid Reflux
Does vitamin D deficiency cause acid reflux?
Recent research has indicated that there might be a link between low vitamin D levels and conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).
A study was conducted on children experiencing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and nasopharyngeal issues, mainly affecting the nose and throat area. The study found that these children commonly have a deficiency of vitamin D. As a result, the children were given Vitamin D3 supplements for a year, which proved effective in reducing acid reflux and acute respiratory viral infections (ARVI).
But, the study did not cover the element of pepsin entering the airways, a common occurrence in LPR patients.
However, while the results are promising, large-scale studies are needed to fully understand how and why vitamin D could help manage acid reflux symptoms.
Vitamin D Recommendations for Acid Reflux
Understanding your vitamin D status is key to managing acid reflux and overall health.
Evaluate Vitamin D Level
First, consider getting your vitamin D levels checked. A simple blood test called the 25(OH)D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.
The test measures the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in your blood, the form of vitamin D your body makes after being exposed to the sun, or after consuming vitamin D from food or supplements.
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D levels are generally considered:
- Deficient: less than 12 ng/mL (or 30 nmol/L)
- Insufficient: between 12 ng/mL and 20 ng/mL (or 30-50 nmol/L)
- Sufficient: between 20 ng/mL and 50 ng/mL (or 50-125 nmol/L)
- High, possibly harmful: above 50 ng/mL (or 125 nmol/L).
Vitamin D: The Recommended Dose
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin D for most adults is 10 micrograms a day for most people.
However, if you have a Vitamin D deficiency, your healthcare provider might recommend a higher dosage, at least temporarily. Don’t go over 100 micrograms of vitamin D daily to avoid harm.
Learn how to eliminate excess vitamin D from your body.
How to Incorporate Vitamin D into Your Routine
Here’s how you can add vitamin D to your daily routine.
The Role of Sunshine
Spending 10-30 minutes outside in the midday sun several times a week can help boost your vitamin D levels. Remember to use sun protection if you will be outside for longer periods to protect against harmful UV radiation.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin D
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are excellent sources. Eggs, cheese, and beef liver also contain smaller amounts of vitamin D.
In many countries, foods like milk, cereal, and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D2. Including these foods in your daily diet can help increase your vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D Supplementation
If you lack vitamin D, your doctor may suggest a supplement. It comes in tablets, capsules, or liquid drops, and dosage depends on your levels.
Other Lifestyle Changes to Combat Acid Reflux
While Vitamin D can play a role in managing acid reflux, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other lifestyle changes that can help combat acid reflux.
- Portion Control – Eat smaller meals more often to prevent reflux instead of three large meals that can cause stomach pressure.
- Avoid Trigger Foods – Avoid certain foods like spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages, etc., as they may worsen your symptoms.
- Weight Management- Losing weight can reduce GERD and acid reflux symptoms. A balanced diet and exercise help manage acid reflux.
- Regular Exercise – Moderate exercise can aid digestion and weight management, reducing acid reflux symptoms. Avoid intense workouts right after eating to prevent reflux.
- Smoking and Alcohol – Smoking and alcohol can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and trigger acid reflux, causing damage to your esophagus. Consider reducing or eliminating these habits.
- Proper Posture and Sleep Position – Maintain an upright posture while eating and elevate your head while sleeping to avoid reflux.
- Stress Management – Stress doesn’t cause acid reflux, but it can increase your sensitivity to the discomfort of the symptoms. Try mindfulness, yoga, and deep breathing to reduce stress.
What Kind Of Vitamins Is Good For Acid Reflux?
There are a variety of natural remedies and supplements that can help alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Some of these include-
- Betaine HCl with pepsin
- B vitamins
However, certain acid reflux medications may interfere with absorbing essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, magnesium, and calcium, so discuss supplement use with a doctor.
The relationship between vitamin D and acid reflux is a fascinating field of research that holds promise for those who experience this unpleasant condition. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for acid reflux, and what works for me might not work for you.
So, speak with your healthcare provider before modifying your health routine to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your needs.
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I am a health and wellness enthusiast working in a Pittsburgh-based wellness clinic. My primary role as a consultant is to tailor a balanced lifestyle for my patients, where positive steps and potent supplements play a synergistic role.