Low stomach acid? Wondering why people keep recommending zinc supplements? I think I understand the mechanism by which zinc increases stomach acid levels, but it’s not as simple as “supplement zinc, increase stomach acid levels.” Here is my proposed mechanism:
Abstract: Low Zinc correlates with low levels of stomach acid and poor nutrient assimilation because of this low stomach acid level. I believe Zinc is the primary catalyst that pumps protons via the release of hydrogen from chloride in a reaction with hydrochloric acid .
Preface: Acid is the presence of protons in the absence of a neutralizing base. For the purpose of digesting and assimilating nutrients, an acidic environment is desired in the stomach. It is commonly accepted medical knowledge that this acidic environment is created by hydrochloric acid, or H-Cl, when a hydrogen proton is released from it’s unstable bond with Chloride.
Proposal: Zinc functions as a catalyst for this H-Cl reaction in the stomach. In the presence of zinc, hydrogen will be quickly released from it’s bond with Chloride, releasing protons into the stomach environment and helping to breakdown nutrients. See this youtube video demonstrating the reaction of Zinc with hydrochloric acid. I believe that there are proton-pumping sites in the stomach, occurring in the stomach lining in specific points where a protein matrix holds zinc ions in the fabric of the stomach for the purpose of reacting with hydrochloric acid, also secreted from the stomach lining.
Or perhaps the pancreas is responsible for the pumping of a zinc-containing enzyme into the stomach for the purpose of reacting with the hydrochloric acid pumped from the stomach lining.
Either way, the acidic environment is created from the mixing of zinc enzymes with hydrochloric acid, creating a very acidic solution for the digestion of nutrients.