The second in my series of posts about products which can contribute to nutrient deficiencies –
Many women consume antacids as a supplemental source of calcium. In addition, antacids are a quick remedy for stomach upsets caused by stress or excessive intake of coffee, spicy or fatty foods, or alcohol. While antacids might provide quick relief for stomach discomfort, they could also contribute to nutrient deficiencies if consumed in excess.
Antacids that contain magnesium or aluminum hydroxides inhibit calcium absorption and increase the risk of developing bone disorders and osteoporosis. Aluminum is toxic to the nerves and bones, and absorption of this metal from an antacid could pose a problem if it is consumed with citrus fruits or juices. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) used as a “stomach settler” also interferes with calcium absorption; however, a woman is at risk only if she drinks a sodium bicarbonate mixture daily while consuming a low-calcium diet.
Antacids reduce stomach acidity, which is useful to someone with excessive stomach acid or a “nervous stomach”, but their use can result in anemia or nutrient deficiencies if they are consumed frequently and for long periods of time. Neutralizing stomach acid also reduces the absorption of the vitamins and minerals – such as iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin B12 – that require an acid digestive system for maximum absorption. This effect can be minimized if the antacid is taken on an empty stomach rather than with meals or with vitamin-mineral supplements where it can interact with dietary nutrients.
Researchers at Oklahoma State University report that the use of calcium carbonate antacids might compromise chromium absorption and aggravate a pre-existing marginal chromium deficiency. Chromium absorption and tissue levels of chromium decrease when the diets of animals are supplemented with calcium carbonate. The antacids might form undigestible complexes with chromium or alter the acidity of the digestive tract.