2019's 10 Best
Betaine HCL Supplements
A lot has been said about the hyperacidity condition of the stomach, which is when it produces too much acid. What often goes neglected during those discussions is the counter-condition: when the stomach doesn’t produce enough acid. This situation can cause a number of symptoms that start with simple digestive discomfort.
Adequate stomach acid production is an important component of healthy digestion. For instance, stomach acid is responsible for breaking down proteins to the point where they can actually be digested by the body. It activates pepsin, an enzyme needed for protein digestion.
In addition, it sends out chemical signals so that food can pass from the stomach to the small intestine. It also alerts the pancreas to secrete additional enzymes, when necessary. And finally, it inhibits the growth of bacteria and prevents infection. Never knew that stomach acid did so much, did you?
All these bodily functions happen with the help of hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is naturally produced by the stomach. But with insufficient stomach acid in the system, levels of hydrochloric acid also drop. Hypochlorhydria is a condition in which there are low concentrations of hydrochloric acid in the stomach’s gastric juices. Likewise, achlorhydria is when there is a complete lack of HCl in gastric juices.
Supplements such as betaine HCl can help with these conditions. Betaine HCl can help restore hydrochloric acid levels and prevent the digestive discomfort that comes with it. Let’s take a closer look at this supplement and what it can do for you.
What is Betaine?
Betaine is a naturally occurring amino acid compound. It also goes by the name of trimethylglycine or TMG. It is found in various foods such as sugar beets, sweet potatoes, and spinach. You can also get it from grains such as quinoa, wheat bran, bulgur, rye, and brown rice. Meats such as beef, veal, turkey breast, and some seafood will also yield betaine when consumed. However, betaine was originally discovered in beets from which its name was derived.
By itself, betaine offers a number of health benefits. For instance, it has beneficial cardiovascular effects by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. This has the effect of preventing clogged and/or hardened arteries. Betaine also supports proper liver function and detoxification by helping to break down fatty acids, and it protects the liver from hepatotoxins. Betaine also helps improve body composition. It does so by engaging in protein synthesis and increasing muscle growth.
But digestive health is the area where betaine can team up with hydrochloric acid to yield digestive benefits. Jump to Our 10 Best Betaine HCl Supplement List
What is Hydrochloric Acid?
The acid that does most of the work in the stomach is hydrochloric acid. An insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid leads to digestive dysfunction. As you age, the chances of the stomach not producing enough hydrochloric acid also increase.
There is a compound of betaine which is frequently used to help restore those HCl levels. Known as betaine hydrochloride, this compound consists of both betaine and hydrochloric acid. When betaine hydrochloride is taken as a dietary or digestive supplement, its HCl content promotes the production of additional hydrochloric acid in the stomach and facilitates digestion. You can get betaine HCl in either capsule or powder form for supplementing purposes.
What Are Some Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid?
Symptoms of low stomach acid can easily mimic those of too much stomach acid. The best course of action is to get an official diagnosis. However, here is a quick look at the type of digestive discomfort you might experience if you suffer from hypochlorhydria:
- Belching and bloating after meals
- Feelings of fullness
- Indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation
- Burning sensation about half an hour after eating
- Nausea after taking supplements
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption of foods
Other symptoms, not digestive in nature, can include experiencing acne or dry skin. Some women may also experience hair loss along with different yeast infections.
Low stomach acid levels may also present chronic or adrenal fatigue. This has the effect of compromising an individual’s immunity. Those with hypochlorhydria may also be more prone to autoimmune diseases.
Risks Factors for Hypochlorhydria
While age is an obvious one, there are a few others that can put a person at a greater risk for developing hypochlorhydria. Some of these include a history of eating disorders, an underactive thyroid, and an H. pylori infection, which neutralizes and reduces the secretion of HCl to aid its survival. Sneaky bugger.
If you are mineral deficient, you may also suffer from hypochlorhydria. This is because certain minerals such as potassium and zinc are required for the production of HCl. Certain lifestyle habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption can also impact HCl production in the body. Chronic use of antacids will also deplete stomach acid and present hypochlorhydria symptoms.
How to Test for Low Stomach Acid
Stomach acidity is measured by a term called pH. When there is a low pH, it indicates an acidic environment, whereas a high pH indicates an alkaline environment. If you think you may be suffering from low stomach acid, you can try some simple at-home tests to see if they indicate anything.
The first is a bicarbonate of soda test where you dissolve a little soda in water and drink it up on an empty stomach. If you have adequate levels of stomach acid, the soda will get neutralized and convert into gas. As such, you may experience some belching with 5-10 minutes after drinking the solution. But if no belching occurs, then there may be insufficient acid present.
Another way to go is to take a beet test. This literally involves eating a beet. If you notice that your urine or stool turns any shade of pink or magenta after one day of consumption, you HCl levels may be low. The theory behind this is that stomach acid plays a part in breaking down pigments in food. So if there are still pigments left at the end of digestion, you may not have enough HCl.
A third test involves taking a betaine HCl capsule. Take a capsule at the end of a large, high-protein meal. If you don’t feel any differently, you may not have enough stomach acid. However, if you experience a mild, warm sensation, you may have sufficient stomach acid. And if there is a burning sensation, you probably have too much.
That said, none of these options are foolproof. It is best to get a confirmed diagnosis of the condition from your doctor. And if you have one of those? This will be a great supplement option for you.
Getting a Diagnosis
If symptoms persist or worsen, your doctor may prescribe the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test. This test is considered the gold standard for measuring HCl levels. You get an exact result of how capable the stomach is at producing acid.
This test involves using a small capsule with a radio transmitter that records the stomach’s pH levels. You drink a solution with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) that neutralizes the HCl in the stomach. If the acid does not return to normal after the baking soda is swallowed, then it is a positive for hypochlorhydria.
The time it takes for the stomach to re-acidify will determine if you have hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria.
How Can Betaine HCl Help?
In supplemental form, betaine HCl is used to increase the concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. It is a chemical substance made in a laboratory, and it is used to aid in digestion in several ways.
When food is ingested, it travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. Here, HCl breaks down the food into a mush-like substance. From there, the partially-digested food enters the small intestine where further breakdown and 90% of nutrient absorption occurs. However, optimal absorption will only happen when there is sufficient HCl present.
Low stomach acidity has been linked to an impaired absorption of several important nutrients. The most prominent of these include iron, vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. Taking a betaine HCl supplement can help restore hydrochloric acid levels for maximum nutrient absorption.
PREVENTS BACTERIAL GROWTH
When talking about the gut’s flora population, low acidity levels allow potentially pathogenic microbes to enter the small intestine. This can bring about a disruption in gut ecology. This microbial imbalance, also known as dysbiosis, can contribute to conditions like leaky gut and autoimmune challenges.
ENCOURAGES RELEASE OF PANCREATIC ENZYMES
A decrease in pancreatic enzyme activity is also associated with low acidity levels. When there isn’t enough HCl in the small intestine, the pancreas doesn’t get stimulated sufficiently to release its digestive enzymes. Supplementing with betaine HCl can help counter this condition and induce the pancreas to secrete more enzymes. Jump to Our 10 Best Betaine HCl Supplement List
PREVENTS DIGESTIVE DISCOMFORT
Most of the symptoms of digestive discomfort such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation occur when food doesn’t get digested properly.
When the chyme, or partially broken-down food paste, in the stomach isn’t acidic enough, the pyloric sphincter that lets the food pass from the stomach into the intestine doesn’t open. When this mechanism doesn’t happen on time, the chyme sits in the stomach too long and starts to degenerate.
As proteins putrefy, carbohydrates ferment and fats go rancid. This causes bloating, pain, a feeling of fullness, and constipation to occur. Restoring HCl levels with a betaine HCl supplement can prevent all this from happening.
Proteins are the building blocks for the growth and development of many structures in the body. For instance, they are integral to the optimal functioning of muscles and are needed for hair, nail, and bone growth. They are also responsible for the production of collagen and elastin, substances needed for clear, wrinkle-free, and healthy skin.
But when proteins don’t get broken down into amino acids because of low hydrochloric acid levels, the amino acids don’t become available to the body. As such, many of these functions don’t occur, and you can end up with hair loss, brittle nails, and aging skin.
The Proper Dosage for Pre-Workout Supplements
Betaine HCl is a supplement and not a drug. As such, it isn’t regulated by the FDA, and there are no standards for usage or dose. In the absence of a recommended daily intake, the dose will depend on the condition being addressed. Jump to Our 10 Best Pre-Workout Supplement List
For nutritional support, in the form of a digestive aid, you can get products ranging from 650 mg to 2500 mg. However, these recommendations are not officially established. Regardless of your purpose to taking them, Betaine HCl supplements are fairly potent and should only be taken under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner.
You should never take a betaine HCl supplement along with anti-inflammatory medication. The combination may damage the stomach lining, aggravating the condition. Likewise, anyone with ulcers should not supplement with HCl.
To take the supplement safely, only use it with protein-rich meals. This is because not much stomach acid is required for digesting vegetables and fruits. Finally, you should only supplement with HCl until stomach acid levels have been restored.
Best Betaine HCl Supplements
Our top 10 list of betaine HCl supplements is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high-quality betaine HCl supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping. This ensures that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final dose.
- Megan Dix, RN-BSN What Is Hypochlorhydria? HealthLine.com
- University of Michigan Medicine Betaine Hydrochloride UofMHealth.org
- Everyday Health What Is Betaine? EverdayHealth.com
- Jillian Levy, CHHC What is Betaine? Benefits, Signs of Deficiency and Food Sources DrAxe.com
- Joe Cohen 15 Interesting Health Benefits of TMG + Mechanisms & Side Effects SelfHacked.com
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