Can Anti-Aging Supplements Cause Acid Reflux?

Many other supplements are believed to have anti-aging properties including curcumin, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate found in green tea), collagen, CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10), vitamin B3 (nicotinamide or NMN and NAD+), crocin (saffron), vitamin E, theanine, Rhodiola, Astragalus, fisetin (flavonoid), resveratrol (red wine), and sulforaphane (broccoli).

Key takeaways:
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    Anti-aging supplements are one of many food supplements that may aggravate gastroesophageal reflux and cause symptoms such as heartburn.
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    It is important to learn as much as possible about the potential benefits and risks of any anti-aging supplement, particularly in older adults since there may be possible drug interactions with the medications they already take and potentially deleterious effects such as increasing the risks of prostate cancer or stroke.
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    Lifestyle modifications and anti-reflux medications can be effective in alleviating gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. It is important to determine whether the symptoms are from the anti-aging supplements or another cause.
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    It is important to discuss the addition of any food supplement with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, and dietician, if applicable, before proceeding to take the supplement on a regular basis.

All of these can produce symptoms of acid reflux under the right circumstances. So it's essential to understand whether the particular anti-aging supplement is right for you and is the heartburn caused by the anti-aging supplement or something else?

What is gastroesophageal reflux?

Simply, when the amount of gastric acidic juices in the stomach is too much, it can reflux into the esophagus and cause symptoms. These symptoms may or may not be associated with irritation or damage to the lining of the esophagus.

Envisioning how gastroesophageal reflux occurs is simple plumbing. The stomach and esophagus are separated by a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The esophagus acts like a pump to move things down through the LES and down into the stomach which is just a reservoir. Delayed emptying of food and acid from the stomach into the intestines causes increased volume and pressure in the stomach to build up.

Acid reflux symptoms

Most people experience three main symptoms: heartburn, regurgitation, and dysphagia or trouble swallowing. It is difficult to find someone who has not experienced one or more of these symptoms in their lifetime.

Abnormal reflux symptoms can also include the following:

  • Hoarseness;
  • Sore throat;
  • Cough;
  • Wheezing.
  • Ear pain;
  • Non-cardiac chest pain;
  • Damaged teeth enamel.

Causes of acid reflux

The most common cause of gastroesophageal reflux is either a functional relaxation of the LES or a mechanical problem of the LES. Functional relaxation of the LES is usually transient, and the most common reasons include:

  • Foods such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate, fatty meals, or food supplements such as those used for anti-aging.
  • Medications (anti-hypertensive medications such as beta-agonists or calcium channel blockers, nitrates, and anticholinergics).
  • Hormones (progesterone as an example).
  • Nicotine.

It is very important to determine which of these factors, if not a combination of them, are responsible for the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Treatment should be focused on the specific cause or causes.

Anti-aging supplements and acid reflux

A lot of medications and dietary supplements can cause symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn. One of the best-known antioxidants and anti-aging supplements is vitamin C or ascorbic acid. Taking vitamin C can cause changes to the lining of the stomach which can produce indigestion, nausea, and even vomiting.

Gastroesophageal reflux treatment

Treatment of gastroesophageal reflux from whatever the cause is treated in a stepwise fashion. The goals are to control or halt the symptoms and prevent any injury to the stomach and the esophagus. Longstanding damage to the lining of the esophagus or stomach can lead to more serious complications such as ulcers, Barrett esophagus, strictures, or narrowing of the esophagus, and can even be associated with a higher risk of cancer.

Most people are effectively treated by lifestyle and diet modification or control of gastric acid secretion through medications, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors. Rarely, surgery is performed for corrective anti-reflux therapy.

Lifestyle modifications may solve the issues with gastroesophageal reflux in some people taking food supplements such as those used for anti-aging since the problem may not be the food supplements, to begin with. Lifestyle modifications can include the following:

  • Losing weight;
  • Avoidance of certain foods (chocolate, tomato-based products, peppermint, coffee, etc);
  • Avoidance of large meals.
  • Waiting three hours after a meal to go to bed;
  • Elevating the head of the bed by six to eight inches;

Still, want to take anti-aging supplements?

Unwanted symptoms from taking food supplements, particularly in older adults, can be challenging. Also, there are considerations for unsafe prescription drug interactions in older adults that should be avoided. It is recommended that information be obtained by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

The best course of action is usually to investigate and learn about the food supplement. This may mean discussing the particular anti-aging supplement with your healthcare professional, pharmacist, or dietitian if you have one.

Check out the food supplement on the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). This will provide useful information regarding whether the food supplement has been tested, its quality, strength, and purity, among other things.

Just because anti-aging food supplements are touted to be natural and help with aging, that may or may not necessarily be true. It is always good to learn more about them, as high doses of some have been associated with increased health risks. For example, high doses of vitamin E may increase the risks of prostate cancer or stroke.

Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms can usually be avoided by stopping the anti-aging supplement. The question is whether you should take it all. Remember, anti-aging supplements should never replace a healthy lifestyle, including a good diet, exercise, avoidance of smoking, and seeing your healthcare provider regularly.


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