Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is the result of the reverse flow of acidic stomach contents back into your esophagus. Heartburn causes a mild to severe burning sensation in your throat or your chest. There are several remedies for treating heartburn symptoms including the use of over-the-counter medications, like antacids. Additional minerals and vitamins such as vitamin D may contribute to treating heartburn.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin synthesized in your skin following exposure to sunlight. In addition to your own production of vitamin D, you also get plenty of it from dietary sources like dairy products, fish and vitamin D fortified foods. According to Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin D plays several vital functions in your body including immune system support, regulation of blood pressure and insulin secretion. One of the most important roles of vitamin D is to aid in the absorption of calcium and regulating calcium balance throughout your body. Calcium is also an important supplement used to treat heartburn.
When you chew and swallow food, it travels down the back of your throat into your esophagus where muscle contractions move it into your stomach through an opening known as the lower esophageal sphincter. Following the movement of food through this opening, it closes, keeping food and stomach contents from moving backwards. When this opening relaxes, it causes the reverse flow of stomach acid causing heartburn. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, if you experience heartburn more than two times per week, it is a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Since heartburn is not usually an emergency medical situation, it can be easily treated with over-the-counter medications such as antacids. Over-the-counter antacids work by neutralizing the acids so that they minimize the burning sensation in your chest. Other medications reduce heartburn problems by limiting the amount of acid that your stomach secretes. In addition to medications, lifestyle and dietary changes may reduce the incidence or severity of heartburn episodes.
Vitamin D and Heartburn
Common over-the-counter medications like antacids contain various salts intended to neutralize the pH of stomach acid. These salts are usually made out of calcium or magnesium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, so some specialty products have appeared on the alternative supplement market combining several vitamins and minerals including vitamin D and calcium to treat heartburn and acid reflux. One such product combines vitamin D, calcium, folic acid, vitamins B-6 and B-12. Never take a dietary supplement to treat your heartburn or acid reflux prior to discussing the medical implications with your physician.