Can vitamins cause heartburn?

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Unless consumed in excessive amounts, vitamins are unlikely to cause heartburn. Vitamin C might trigger acid reflux, and A and D vitamins might soothe symptoms.

Gummy vitamins might also be good for acid reflux. However, this is related to chewing and saliva production, not the vitamin content.

About vitamins

Vitamins are essential micronutrients that the body needs for its metabolism and proper functioning. They are called micronutrients because they are only needed in small quantities in the body.

Vitamins occur naturally in plants, and we get them as we eat foods. Some vitamins are more important than others as they play key roles in the body’s development and functions.

Sometimes dietary intakes of such vitamins may not be sufficient at certain developmental stages (like pregnancy and old age). Also, certain diseases affect the absorption of vitamins or create the need for additional amounts of certain vitamins than can be gotten from the diet. Thus, these vitamins will need to be consumed through supplements, which can come either as pills, tablets, gels, or powders.

A deficiency in such vitamins can lead to disease states that may be mild, severe, or even fatal. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to poor eyesight, vitamin B12 (folate) deficiency can cause poor fetal development and vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, which causes bleeding of the gums, and poor healing of wounds on the skin.

Can vitamin C tablets cause heartburn?

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a very popular vitamin present in high quantities in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples, and limes and vegetables like tomatoes.

It is vital for good dental health, enhancing skin elasticity (as it enhances collagen production), preventing chronic fatigue, and boosting the general immunity of the body due to its antioxidant effects.

Vitamin C has been reported to cause gastric irritations due to the presence of ascorbic acid.

Excess intake of vitamin C has been associated with acid indigestion and abdominal pain which triggers acid reflux and causes heartburn in sensitive people. These heartburn symptoms are worst when ascorbic acid is consumed on an empty stomach.

The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is 90mg for adult men and 75mg for adult women. For pregnant women, the dose goes up to 85mg and for breastfeeding mothers, the dose goes further up to 120mg per day.

Taking significantly more vitamin C tablets than recommended can increase the likelihood of heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms.

Can D vitamins cause heartburn?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, crucial for the absorption and retention of the minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for the building of strong bones and teeth. It is also important for the proper functioning of muscle cells.

There is presently no evidence proving that vitamin D helps with heartburn. However, evidence of the relationship between vitamin D and erosive esophagitis, as well as vitamin D and gastroparesis has been reported in some studies.

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the spontaneous movement of the stomach muscles which pushes food through the gut is affected, hence slowing down the emptying of stomach contents.

Slow gastric emptying aggravates acid reflux in sensitive people for two main reasons:

  • Food stays longer in the stomach, increasing the possibility of backflow of stomach acids and thus the occurrence of reflux episodes and heartburn.
  • Increases pressure in the stomach which consequently puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, pushing it open, and causing a backflow of acids that cause heartburn.

Since vitamin D enhances muscle contraction, vitamin D supplementation can strengthen the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter, whose relaxation causes acid reflux and heartburn sensation. Increased vitamin D levels have been reported to improve the efficiency of gastric emptying in patients with gastroparesis in some research studies.

Can multivitamins cause acid reflux?

Multivitamins are supplements that contain many vitamins. Multivitamins that contain iron, zinc, or calcium have been reported to aggravate acid reflux episodes in sensitive people.

However, the exact mechanism of occurrence is not known though and so a lot of research is needed in this area to ascertain this report.

Can gummy vitamins cause acid reflux?

Gummy vitamins generally do not cause acid reflux. They are better tasting and are chewed, so they are better absorbed in the body than other vitamin supplements that are swallowed.

They also contain less vitamin and minerals unlike other vitamin supplement pills; thus, they are less likely to contain triggering compounds.

Besides, their acid reflux soothing effect could be linked to the fact that they are chewed, and the chewing action stimulates the secretion of saliva which dilutes stomach acids.

What vitamins are good for heartburn?

Vitamins A and D are said to be effective in relieving heartburn in sensitive people due to their potent antioxidant activities, that reduce inflammation.

Also, B vitamins like vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 (folate) have been reported to ease reflux episodes, by reducing inflammation in the esophagus, and soothing heartburn.

How to relieve heartburn after vitamins?

There are a few practices that are recommended for relieving heartburn as far as vitamin intake is concerned.

  • Do not take vitamins on an empty stomach.
  • Do not take vitamins after exercise.
  • Take vitamins with food.
  • Avoid taking large doses at once, like once-a-month high concentration doses.
  • Take vitamins in forms that are chewed or dissolved as these have been reported to be more soothing for heartburn.
  • Try taking ginger tea as ginger has a soothing effect on heartburn.

Final thoughts

Vitamins are essential micronutrients that our bodies need for proper growth and functioning.

Vitamin supplementation is crucial at some stages in life or when there are deficiencies due to disease.

Some vitamins can soothe acid reflux and heartburn in sensitive people whereas others can exacerbate acid reflux episodes and heartburn symptoms instead. People, therefore, have to watch out for trigger vitamins and avoid consuming high doses of vitamins or multivitamins as these can cause heartburn.

This article has been written by:

Meggy Jones

Expert Nutritionist and Food Scientist,
M.Sc. – Nutrition, ugent, Belgium