According to the Mayo Clinic, baking soda can be used to relieve stomach acid-related health issues, such as acid reflux, sour stomach and heartburn. Though it is fine for occasional use, taking baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, regularly to treat these conditions can cause some side effects. For this reason, this treatment should always be administered under a doctor's supervision. Stick with your health professional's recommended dosage instructions. If you find that the amount of baking soda recommended by your doctor isn't doing the trick, you may need to ask for an over-the-counter or prescription medication.
Excessive gas is one of the most common risks of taking baking soda to reduce stomach acid. According to the book "Take Care of Yourself," this is because the baking soda helps your body neutralize acid and release the gas that's trapped in your stomach. People who regularly use baking soda to reduce stomach acid may belch and pass gas more frequently than others. Though this may be unpleasant at times, this side effect risk is relatively harmless.
Excessive Salt Intake
Baking soda contains quite a bit of sodium. In fact, the USDA National Nutrient Database says that 1 tsp. of baking soda has 1,259 mg of sodium. The average adult should consume about 2,000 mg of sodium per day, and those with health issues such as high blood pressure should have much less. If you use baking soda to reduce stomach acid, you risk greatly increasing your total sodium intake, especially if you aren't keeping tabs on the amount of sodium you're getting from other sources.
Calcium Absorption Interference
Baking soda taken in large quantities or over the course of a few weeks can interfere with your body's ability to absorb calcium. On a long enough timeline, this could increase the risk of developing osteoporosis and other bone disorders, especially if you're following a low-calcium diet. Women, in particular, should be especially careful to get enough calcium in their diet when taking baking soda to reduce stomach acid. The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements states that adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
Long-term use of baking soda has been linked to kidney damage. This is because, instead of allowing the body to absorb calcium, baking soda carries a percentage of it through the body to the kidneys. Once there, calcium can form deposits in your kidneys called stones. These deposits can gravely damage kidney function. To lessen the risk of this side effect, avoid calcium-rich foods and beverages for two hours prior and one hour after taking a dose of baking soda for stomach acid.
- MayoClinic.com: Sodium Bicarbonate
- "Take Care of Yourself"; Donald Vickery and James F. Fries; 2009
- "Nutrition for Women"; Elizabeth Somer; 2003
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diet for Kidney Stone Prevention
- USDA National Nutrient Database