Big Pharma makes a killing selling proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid to men and women with acid reflux. But a major study shows that taking a PPI for an extended period blocks your body’s absorption of an essential “energy” vitamin.
Now, here’s the good news: You have a safe, old-fashioned alternative. It’s been around forever. Costs pennies. And it won’t cause serious, long-term side effects. I’ll tell you about this safe, affordable way to control stomach acid in a moment. But first, let’s take a closer look at PPIs…
Yes, PPIs suppress stomach acid. So you might think they’re a quick, easy fix for your acid reflux. But they also increase your risk of weight gain, severe diarrhea, bone fractures, pneumonia, and dangerous bacterial infections.
The FDA has known about these problems for years. But it’s done nothing. Worse yet, doctors write more than 150 million prescriptions for PPIs each year. And that doesn’t count OTC sales, which have exploded in recent years. In fact, PPIs are the third highest-selling class of drugs in the United States. And Big Pharma makes more than $10 billion a year from selling them.
Now, you may wonder how in the heck a drug with so many serious side effects sells so well. But it’s very simple…once you start taking a PPI, it’s very hard to stop. They’re actually addictive.
You see, PPIs block the production of acid in the stomach. But as a result, your body overcompensates. It thinks it needs more acid-making cells in your stomach. So it makes more cells. And the cells lie and wait. Then, when you attempt to stop taking the PPI, the new acid-making cells launch into overdrive. Your reflux symptoms return with a vengeance. And you actually feel worse than before you even started taking the PPI. So, naturally, you go back on the drug…indefinitely.
Unfortunately, the longer you’re on a PPI, the more likely you’ll experience health problems. Plus, we now know that taking a PPI for an extended period blocks your body’s absorption of key vitamins. In fact, the latest study found PPIs zap your vitamin B12 levels.
Of course, all the B vitamins are essential to human life. And vitamin B12 has a special role as the so-called “energy” vitamin. It also supports healthy neurological function. Without enough B12, you can suffer from anemia, neurological disorders, and even dementia.
To examine the problem, researchers reviewed medical records of more than 25,000 adults diagnosed with a B12 deficiency between 1997 and 2011. Then, they compared that data to 184,199 patients with normal levels.
They found patients who took PPIs for more than two years were 65 percent more likely to have a B12 deficiency. Plus, there was a dose-response effect. So, the men and women who took the highest doses had the most serious deficiencies.
Previous studies showed elderly patients who took PPIs often experienced a drop in B12. But Big Pharma denied the connection, claiming the elderly often run low on B12 anyway.
That is indeed true. But this study found problems across all age groups. In fact, researchers found the strongest association in men and women younger than 30.
No matter your age, you simply should never take a PPI. But that doesn’t mean you just have to live with your nagging heartburn. As I mentioned above, there is a safe, effective alternative. And it’s been around for generations.
I’m talking about good, old-fashioned sodium bicarbonate–more commonly known as baking soda.
You see, baking soda is a base. So it will help neutralize the acid in your stomach. You can find bicarbonate of soda tablets or powder at your local drug store and even grocery store. Just follow the instructions on the box.
You can also try drinking more mineral water, like San Pellegrino. As Nelson DeMille says in his books about the Mafia, San Pellegrino is the Italian Alka-Seltzer. And the Italians should know a thing or two about preventing acid reflux with all the tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and spices on the menu.
So, try starting your day with a glass of mineral water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime (for added vitamin C). See if that helps.
And don’t forget to take a high-quality B supplement each and every day. Regardless of whether or not you take a PPI, it’s a good way to make sure you’re getting enough of these essential vitamins.
“Proton pump inhibitor and histamine 2 receptor antagonist use and vitamin B12 deficiency,” JAMA 2013 Dec 11;310(22):2435-42
“Acid-Suppressing Drugs Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency,” New York Times (www.nytimes.com) December 10, 2013