For Women, Low Stomach Acid Often Causes “Lousy” Fingernails or Hair Loss

For Women, Low Stomach Acid Often Causes “Lousy” Fingernails or Hair Loss
For Women, Low Stomach Acid Often Causes “Lousy” Fingernails or Hair Loss

 Protein is digested (hydrolyzed) in the stomach to produce amino acids and peptides (two or more amino acids linked together) by the actions of pepsin. This action occurs best when the pH is between 1 and 2. As the gastric pH climbs, the rate of hydrolysis declines. when the gastric pH is less than 2.5 (within the normal range), 75 percent of protein (beef) is hydrolyzed, compared with only 25 percent when the pH is high (greater than 5). Acid-suppressing drugs typically raise the intragastric pH to 5 or higher.
Normal digestion of protein results in the release of essential amino acids, including phenylalanine, tryptophan, valine, and leucine, as well as “nonessential” but important amino acids such as tyrosine and arginine. There is little direct evidence that hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria, whether due to atrophic gastritis or acid-suppressing drugs, inhibits the absorption of essential amino acids. However, there is considerable circumstantial evidence. In one study, people who had had part of their stomachs surgically removed (resulting in less acid secretion), absorbed less protein than a control group with normal stomachs.
Bacterial overgrowth due to chronically low acid levels can also get in the way of normal amino acid absorption. As we noted earlier with vitamin B12, some bacteria may hijack the amino acids for their own use, possibly producing toxic byproducts in the process.
During the early years of the twentieth century, there were isolated reports that certain products of bacterial metabolism of amino acids could cause a syndrome that resembled what may now be diagnosed as clinical depression. Symptoms included excessive fatigue, reduced ability to concentrate, and insomnia (in people), and somnolence and lack of interest in the external environment (in monkeys). 

 A more likely connection, as we mentioned above, may be the deficit in at least two neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, and their amino acid precursors, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. Numerous reports have confirmed that a large reduction in plasma tryptophan levels can result in depression, especially if the individual is prone to depression due to genetic makeup or family history.
Can low stomach acid make us depressed? Although I’ve found this to be true for many individuals, there are no “controlled studies,” so “scientifically” speaking, at this point, the possibility remains nothing more than an intriguing hypothesis. However, should it be borne out by systematic research, it may mean that, for some people at least, treatment for their depression may be as simple as taking HCl supplements, accompanied by amino acids and other “missing” nutrients.
In a way, women with low stomach acid are often “lucky” to develop one of two “signs” that men with the same problem rarely encounter: cracking, chipping, peeling, and “layering” fingernails, or overall (not localized) head hair loss. (It’s rare to have both poor-quality fingernails and hair loss occur in the same woman.)
Did we say “lucky”? Rapidly thinning hair, or nails only a cosmetologist could love? Lucky, because women with these problems know something’s the matter and sometimes are also lucky enough to find nutritionally oriented physicians who will help these symptoms to diagnose and correct or compensate for the underlying cause: poor stomach function. “Patching up—the stomach problem helps not only the hair loss and the “lousy” fingernails, but the entire body’s nutrition as well!
We men aren’t “lucky” enough to develop these telltale symptoms, so we continue to suffer the consequences of poor stomach function.

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