Nexium, a brand name for the proton-pump inhibitor esomeprazole, reduces the secretion of gastric acid in the stomach. Nexium is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, or other conditions involving excess gastric acid. Gastric acid normally serves to destroy pathogens and help process certain nutrients for absorption. Nexium may reduce stomach acid below normal levels reducing nutrient absorption and raising the risk for infection.
Nexium inhibits proton pumps in the walls of the stomach that produce stomach acid by increasing the amount of hydrogen ions in the stomach. The reduction in stomach acidity allows a more favorable environment for damage to heal, in the case of ulcers or acid reflux damage. Nexium is usually only taken for a few months and is not intended for immediate heartburn relief.
The stomach contains hydrochloric acid with a pH of between 1 and 2 as well as large amount of potassium and sodium chloride. Gastric acid or stomach acid normally functions to destroy pathogens, passage of stomach contents, denature proteins and solubilizes dietary minerals for absorption. Low stomach acid, which is also called hypochlorhydria, causes indigestion and inhibits absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Nexium, Hypochlorhydria and Nutrients
Long-term consumption of Nexium may reduce stomach acid below normal levels, resulting in hypochlorhydria. This inhibits the absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, iron and beta-carotene by the intestines, as they are not processed by stomach acid. You may consider countering this by taking an acid such as vinegar or citric acid with meals, under your doctor's direction.
Follow your doctor's direction for diet and dosage while taking Nexium or any other medication. Clearly communicate your concerns to your doctor and work out a treatment plan.