Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is commonly known as acid reflux disease. It is a condition where stomach contents chronically end up back in the esophagus. This causes frequent heartburn, burping, coughing ,sore throat, nausea, vomiting and even chest pain. It is often treated with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Vitamin B is also clinically proven to help GERD symptoms.
The tube connecting your stomach to your throat is called your esophagus. At the bottom of this tube is a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. Typically, this muscle closes off the tube, keeping the food in the stomach where it belongs. However, sometimes this muscle doesn't close securely enough, allowing stomach acid and undigested food back into the esophagus. Pregnancy, obesity, frequent vomiting and smoking cigarettes are common causes of GERD.
B Vitamin Treatments
A study published in the "Journal of Pineal Research" by Ricardo de Souza Pereira in 2006 found that vitamin B may be used as an alternative treatment for GERD symptoms. Pereira tested omeprazole, the medication sold under the brand name Prilosec, against a supplement containing melatonin, l-tryptophan, methionine, betaine and the B vitamins B6, folic acid and vitamin B12. The results found that 100 percent of the group that took the supplement containing vitamin B saw their GERD symptoms disappear completely within 40 days. Only 65 percent of the group taking omeprazole reported the same effect.
Vitamin B Foods
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating foods high in calcium and B vitamins to help reduce GERD symptoms. These foods include almonds, whole grains, beans, spinach and kale. Other foods that are high in B vitamins include fortified cereal and animal protein. The University of Maryland recommends avoiding foods that are acidic, like orange juice and coffee. Chocolate, spearmint and peppermint -- as well as carbonation in drinks -- can also worsen reflux symptoms.
If you suffer from reflux, avoid eating during the two to three hours before lying down, says the American Academy of Family Physicians. Lose weight and avoid tight clothing. If you have heartburn at night, place 6- to 9-inch blocks under the head of your bed, lifting it to a better angle. Avoid overeating and stick to meals that are high in protein but low in fat.
Medication Side Effects
Omeprazole used in the Pereira study is a proton pump inhibitor that suppresses areas in the stomach that release stomach acid. The FDA is now requiring a warning to be included on the label of this type of medication because, according to the National Institutes of Health, proton pump inhibitors have been linked to fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. The greatest risk is for people 50 and older who have been using the medication for at least a year. The vitamin B supplement studied by Pereira eliminated the symptoms of GERD without significant side effects, possibly making it a safer alternative. Always talk to your doctor about medications.