Vitamins and acid reflux
Certain vitamins may prevent or relieve acid reflux. Read on to learn more about which ones may work.
According to a 2006 study, B vitamins may help stop acid reflux symptoms. Researchers divided the participants into two groups. Neither group knew which treatment they were receiving.
Group A took a dietary supplement containing:
- vitamin B-6
- vitamin B-12
- vitamin B-9, or folic acid
Group B took omeprazole. This is a popular over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for acid reflux.
Everyone in group A reported that their symptoms faded after 40 days. This means 100 percent of people taking this dietary supplement experienced relief. They didn’t report any adverse side effects.
About 65 percent of people taking omeprazole had relief during the same period.
B vitamins were only one part of the dietary supplement people used in the study. It’s unclear whether B vitamins alone would have the same effect.
Vitamins A, C, and E
Researchers in a 2012 study evaluated the effect of antioxidant vitamins on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal tumors. GERD is an advanced form of acid reflux.
Results showed that consuming vitamins A, C, and E through fruits, vegetables, and vitamin supplements might help prevent GERD and its complications.
Study participants who consumed more fruits and vegetables experienced fewer symptoms of acid reflux. Study results also suggested people with GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, or esophageal tumors may have a better quality of life by getting more antioxidant vitamins from foods and supplements.
Risks and warnings
If you get your vitamins from food, it’s unlikely you’ll get too much. If you take daily vitamin supplements on top of eating vitamin-rich foods, you may end up with more than the recommended daily value.
Taking large doses of vitamins may cause harmful side effects. For example, large doses of vitamin A can lead to nausea, headaches, or joint pain. Your body can store excess amounts of the vitamin, so these side effects may come on unexpectedly.
Above-average doses can also increase your risk for other conditions. For example, taking more than 400 international units of vitamin E daily over an extended period may increase your overall mortality risk.
You should speak with your doctor about the right dosage for you. They can explain how to incorporate additional vitamins into your daily routine and let you know whether to adjust the amounts of any vitamins you’re already taking.
Other treatment options
Being overweight or frequently eating unhealthy foods may cause or worsen your acid reflux. Being overweight can strain and damage your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Fried or greasy foods, fatty foods, and spicy foods tend to relax your LES and increase stomach acid.
A healthy diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can help acid reflux a few ways. It can lead to weight loss, lessen your risk of heartburn, and provide the antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients you need for good health.
You can also make these lifestyle changes to help relieve symptoms or reduce flares:
- Elevate the head of your bed.
- Avoid large meals at bedtime.
- Reduce stress.
- Exercise gently several times per week.
- Wear loose clothing.
If you experience acid reflux periodically, making lifestyle changes may be all you need to do to feel better. You may be able to use antacids and OTC acid reducers, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), in the short term. You should see your doctor if your symptoms persist.
If lifestyle changes and OTC remedies aren’t working, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength PPIs. The next line of defense may be a prokinetic drug or antibiotics. These drugs can help speed up how fast food leaves your stomach. This decreases the amount of time food has to go back into your esophagus.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to strengthen your LES as a last resort.
Vitamins aren’t an approved treatment for acid reflux. Some research shows the following vitamins may help treat acid reflux:
- vitamin A
- vitamin B
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
However, more research is necessary.
If you eat a healthy diet, you should be able to get all the vitamins you need from your food. It’s unclear whether vitamins alone are enough to ease acid reflux symptoms or prevent future flare-ups. You may have a better chance of success if you combine a vitamin-rich diet with other lifestyle changes.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a vitamin deficiency. They can test your vitamin levels to see if you need a supplement.