Best Supplements for Heartburn, According to Dietitians
Heartburn, which occurs when the contents of the stomach move backward and upward into the food pipe and cause discomfort, is pretty unpleasant. Luckily, there are supplements you can take to lessen the effects of heartburn and ease digestion.
In some cases, these supplements are made with foods, such as ginger, which have been scientifically proven to aid digestion and reduce inflammation, which can relieve acid reflux and heartburn.
In other instances, some of these supplements can actually alter the inner workings of your digestive system in a way that makes it easier for your body to process foods that might otherwise cause irritation.
Additionally, registered dietitian Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, who runs a private practice called Within Nutrition, notes that actually ingesting some acid can also help. "There are several supplements that can help manage heartburn and acid reflux. One way to manage these symptoms can be to actually introduce a bit of acid," she explains. "As counterintuitive as it may sound, one of the main causes of acid reflux and heartburn is underproduction of hydrochloric acid."
Scroll down for more expert input from registered dietitians regarding the best supplements you can take for heartburn, including specific branded examples. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
"While it's normally associated with sleep health and not heartburn, melatonin has been studied for its potential to reduce acid reflux symptoms. Melatonin produces a protective effect in the mucosal lining of the esophagus, helping to prevent injury from acid erosion," says registered dietitian Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD for NextLuxury.com. Melatonin also helps the lower esophageal sphincter (the opening between the esophagus and stomach) to contract, helping prevent stomach acid from going up the esophagus which causes heartburn.
She adds: "Another study used a dietary supplement containing melatonin on people with GERD. After 40 days, 100% of the group taking the supplement containing melatonin had an improvement in symptoms compared to only two-thirds of the group on a prescription heartburn medication."
Gariglio-Clelland is partial to melatonin supplements from Nature Made. "This kind is good because the dose is only three milligrams of melatonin per tab, allowing people to find a dose that is effective without causing too much daytime sleepiness," she explains. "It's also verified by USP."
"Ginger is commonly used to help treat nausea and upset stomach, but it may also help alleviate heartburn," says Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, and writer with My Crohn's and Colitis Team. "A 2019 review on ginger suggests ginger can help increase gastrointestinal motility—the speed of food going through the digestive tract—which could help lower risk for heartburn."
Klamer adds: "A 2019 study also concluded ginger can help lower the H. pylori bacteria in the stomach. H. pylori bacteria can be a cause of heartburn and other digestive issues. Participants in the study received three grams per day of ginger powder as three 1-gram tablets for four weeks.
"And a 2015 study found participants who took two capsules per day of ginger and artichoke extract had significant improvement in gastrointestinal discomfort compared to the placebo group."
When it comes to purchasing ginger supplements, Klamer is partial to ginger root capsules from Nature's Way. "Ginger root is a readily available supplement and is considered safe for most people. However, before taking any supplement, it is recommended to consult your healthcare team first," she advises. "If symptoms of heartburn are worse with taking ginger, stop taking it."
Alicia Galvin, RD and resident dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories, says zinc carnosine can help alleviate heartburn. "Zinc carnosine can reduce inflammation and promote healing of the mucosal membranes and it is the most widely studied type of zinc in ulcer research if ulcers are also present," she says. "It is best to use it for at least eight weeks."
"HCl is a component of the gastric secretions produced by the digestive system and is necessary to break down food," says Ivanir. "When the stomach does not produce enough HCl, the body may overcompensate, resulting in acid reflux. It may therefore be helpful to take HCl supplements to ensure the body does not overproduce acid."
NOW's Betaine HCl supplements are vegan, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and keto-friendly, and offer digestive support.
Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon
"In addition to HCl supplements, acidic foods like apple cider vinegar or lemon may have a similar effect and can help mitigate heartburn," Ivanir notes. "Mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon into water and drinking it before a meal may help the body secrete less acid in turn."
If you want to go the supplement route, try ACV gummies from Essential Elements.
"One supplement that can help with heartburn, acid reflux, and other digestive issues is called Iberogast. Iberogast is an over-the-counter liquid formulation that contains a combination of medicinal herbs including peppermint, chamomile, and caraway," explains Ivanir. "The herbs in Iberogast have been studied for their ability to promote digestive motility and to reduce the production of stomach acid."
For a versatile option, try Iberogast drops from Medical Futures. "Iberogast can be added to water or another beverage and can be taken for as long as symptoms persist," Ivanir adds.
Omeprazole is a supplement that's inexpensive and easy to find when you have persistent heartburn, as it is sold in thousands of CVS stores across the country. "Not only is this heartburn product affordable, but it is also effective. The time-released characteristic of this 20 mg of omeprazole allows it to work acutely (within a day or two) and long-term in relieving your heartburn symptoms," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, and a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.
"This product is specifically designed for heartburn that lasts for more than two days, which indicates a stronger course of action may be needed in treating it, and this product provides that. It is designed to offer two, 14-day courses of treatment which makes it even more affordable considering you are getting two treatments from this product."
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