TORONTO, CANADA. Many digestive problems such as bloating, abdominal distention or pain, heartburn and belching are caused by a lack of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) which can be traced to a lack of niacin. An adequate output of stomach acid is required in order to prevent fungal and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (candidiasis and Helicobacter pylori) and to facilitate the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes. Dr. Jonathan Prousky of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine believes that many cases of hypochlorhydria can be traced to a relative lack of vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide). Some people, it appears, have a much higher than normal need for vitamin B3 especially when under stress. If this need is not met then digestive problems arise. Dr. Prousky cites the cases of two patients with abdominal bloating and other digestion-related problems whose condition improved very significantly after starting to supplement with 1-3 grams/day of niacin (in divided doses). One of the patients also suffered from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD); his symptoms completely disappeared after beginning niacin supplementation. Dr. Prousky suggests that patients who suffer the symptoms of low stomach acid production can markedly improve their condition by supplementing with 200-500 mg of niacinamide with every meal. For more severe cases betaine hydrochloride and 500-1000 mg of niacin per meal may be required. This regimen may also help to eradicate a Helicobacter pylori infection. NOTE: High doses of niacin should only be taken under the supervision of a physician.
Prousky, Jonathan E. Is vitamin B3 dependency a causal factor in the development of hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria? Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 16, No. 4, 4th quarter 2001, pp. 225-37 [74 references]