Are Low Stomach Acid +Hair Loss Connected? Good Potential Remedies

Woman with dark brown hair holding a brush with writing on a gray background stating Hair loss low stomach acid connections by The Healthy RD

If you have hair loss, you might be aware that stress, poor diet, thyroid issues, and certain medications can be the culprit.  

But did you know that the low stomach acid hair loss relationship may also be causing you to lose hair?  This is especially true if you are a woman. 

Most people REALLY don’t like to lose their hair, so this post will hopefully “shed” some light on a new reason you may be losing your hair:  stomach issues. 

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How are stomach acid levels connected to hair growth? 

The stomach is very acidic for a good reason. 

This low pH, due to the large amount of hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach, helps to break down your food, especially protein foods, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, into absorbable nutrients. 

If you have low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), this process goes awry. 

By leading to low nutrients, your whole body, including your hair follicles, becomes deprived of the critical fuel and structural proteins that they need. 

The end result can be that your hair starts falling out. Yikes!

Low stomach acidity can also lead to lots of other problems, including the growth of unwanted bacteria and compromised immunity. can my stomach be low in acid?

In today’s world, there are many people who suffer from low stomach acid symptoms and don’t even know it.  

This is because modern lifestyles can contribute to an inflamed stomach that doesn’t make enough acid. 

Lots of health issues, including autoimmune diseases, digestive conditions, poor diets, medications, age, stress, and many other conditions can cause the stomach to be low in acid.  

Proton pump inhibitors or antacids are also big culprits in causing low stomach acid production. 

  • What’s more, about a third of Americans now struggle with some form of autoimmune illness or another. 
  • Other people mistakenly think that they have acid reflux when they actually have low acid levels. 

As you can see, just about anyone can be at risk for low stomach acid. 

Low stomach acid symptoms

Recently, I wrote a detailed post about the signs of low stomach acid here.  To quickly summarize, just about any physical symptom can be related to low stomach acid.  A large reason that this is a problem is that the body can’t break down protein into the critical amino acids it needs. 

Symptoms of low stomach acid include:

  • Food allergies
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss!
  • Brittle nails
  • Skin breakouts
  • Indigestion
  • Food intolerances
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Fatigue
  • Poor mood

How to fix low stomach acid

First, and probably the most important way to help your hair grow, is to ditch processed foods as much as possible.  

This will help restore low levels of acid and fix many people’s natural stomach acid production.  

This can take some time, however.

If you want to try some natural ways to increase stomach acid, you can add some apple cider vinegar to your dishes or try other natural stomach aids like betaine HCL.

Betaine HCL hair loss benefits

A simple supplement regimen to try is this: adding betaine HCL to your meals, which is a natural type of acid found in foods.  While more research needs to be done for using this therapy, it makes a lot of empirical sense to try it. 

And, though not scientific, thousands of reviews support the use of betaine HCL for this condition. 

Betaine HCL for low stomach acid

Betaine is a substance that is typically found in sugar beets (or sometimes grains), as the name suggests.  It is attached to HCL to form an acidic version of betaine.  

Also referred to as trimethylglycine, betaine HCL’s benefits may be complex and are definitely poorly understood.

Still, betaine HCL does increase stomach acid, as shown in two clinical studies [R, R].

How to take betaine HCL for hair loss

The best way to take betaine HCL is to follow the supplement label instructions.  Typically, this means taking betaine HCL right before the first bite of food at mealtime. 

If for any reason this doesn’t feel good, simply stop taking it, as the root cause of your hair loss may be for another medical reason. 

And as always, make sure you check with your doctor first before trying betaine HCL. 

Remember: hair takes a while to grow, so it may take some time to see results from trying these tips. 

Other people have anecdotally used betaine HCL for conditions like acne, allergies, asthma, gallstones, dermatitis, indigestion, heartburn, GERD, hives, and vitiligo, according to Peace Health.

A word of caution: betaine has methyl groups in it, so if your gene tests show that you over-methylate, betaine HCL may not be right for you.

Supplements with betaine HCL

A good supplement with betaine HCL is called Gallbladder Nutrients from Seeking Health.

It also contains other healing compounds for the gut like Choline, Magnesium, Glycine, Taurine, Dandelion Root, Burdock extract, Artichoke extract, Peppermint extract, Slippery elm, Marshmallow root, Milk thistle, Bupleurum root, and Ginger. 

Digestive enzymes may also help with hair health

Adding digestive enzymes can also be helpful, especially if you have had low stomach acid for a prolonged period.  The imbalance can lead to low enzymes in the gut.  

Many betaine HCl supplements will also contain digestive enzymes, which is nice.

A good digestive enzyme to try is Pro Digestion Intensive by Seeking Health.

Just remember to take it with food and with each meal or else you won’t see the benefits. It helps to set a timer to remember to take it with your meals. 

Other nutritional causes of hair loss

According to medical information published in Nutrition in Clinical Practice, if you are low in almost any nutrient, you can have hair loss or changes to the texture or health of your hair. 

Keep in mind, that biotin gets a lot of notoriety for help with hair regrowth, which can help, but so can many other nutrients. 

After all, your body preferentially gives nutrients to critical organs like your heart and brain first before it lands in your hair. 

Taking a broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral that is all-natural can be helpful (free of synthetic folic acid or synthetic vitamin B6). 

Vitamins and minerals to try

If you have been low in stomach acid for a while, the odds are, that your body is also in desperate need of some vitamins and minerals too.  

Remember, lack of stomach acid causes poor absorption of many minerals and vitamins like vitamin B12. 

Seeking Health has a great broad-spectrum multivitamin/mineral combination that also contains betaine HCL and it’s called Optimal Vitamin Plus. 

If your hair loss is immune-mediated, another potentially beneficial supplement to try is bovine colostrum. 

On a personal note, I have noticed that even though I have thick hair, taking colostrum has led me to have even thicker hair over time.  My hairdresser even noticed that I have a lot of new hair growth. 

Summary of supplements that may help your hair regrow

To recap, here are some supplements you may want to consider if you think you have low stomach acid, or if you think your hair loss is related to low stomach acid, nutritional, or immune conditions.

  • Optimal Vitamin Plus
  • Sovereign Laboratories Bovine Colostrum 
  • Pro Digestion Intensive Enzymes 
  • Now Brand Betaine HCL

Again, have that chat with your doctor or healthcare provider before adding new supplements. 

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

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