What are the downsides of antacids?

1 Answer
Apr 11, 2015

People take antacids to neutralize the acids in the stomach.


Numerous downsides are associated with the excessive and prolonged use of antacids.

Many of the problems are related to increased stomach pH:

  • An imbalance of gut flora (overgrowth of H. pylori leads to ulcers).
  • Suppressed activity of the dietary enzyme pepsin
  • Impaired absorption of
    o Vitamin B-12 (anemia)
    o Calcium and phosphorus (osteoporosis)
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Erosion of esophagus

Specific components have their own effects.

Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate

  • High sodium content (high blood pressure)
  • Systemic alkalosis — excess base in body fluids
  • Reduced iron absorption (anemia)

Calcium Carbonate

  • Acid rebound —the stomach produces even more acid
  • Reduced iron absorption
  • Bloating, cramps, and kidney stones
  • Systemic alkalosis

Magnesium Hydroxide

  • Interference with various enzymes (renal failure)
  • Lowered blood pressure

Aluminium Hydroxide

  • Altered absorption of certain drugs.
  • Potential brain damage