Betaine Hydrochloride (HCL)

While our advanced digestive systems have evolved to effectively digest proteins and nutrients with a high degree of efficacy, imbalances in stomach acids can impair our ability to properly break down and absorb these materials. In these instances, we may require additional ingredients and enzymes which can be added to our daily diet in order to enhance and improve our overall digestion*. One common and frequently used digestive aid can be found in the Betaine Hydrochloride (HCL).

Betaine HCL effectively increases the amount of hydrochloric acid that is found in the stomach, thereby lowering the pH levels and creating a caustic environment within the stomach.* This may have many important effects on our digestion*:

  • Increased ability to digest and absorb protein and other vital nutrients1,2*
  • Increased immunity against food-borne illnesses3*
  • Release of excessive hydrogen build-up in the blood4*

An increase in hydrochloric acid is essential in the first critical steps of protein digestion, as it promotes the conversion of inactive pepsinogen to the active proteolytic form of the enzyme, pepsin1. While the stomach naturally produces hydrochloric acid as a preliminary form of digestion, the chemical is only produced and released as a triggered response to eating. Studies suggest that the underproduction of hydrochloric acid can lead to added materials exiting the body as waste, with a decreased absorption of proteins, vitamins, and minerals2. Maintaining a proper pH balance within the stomach, then, becomes an integral part of daily health and nutrition.

Many food-borne illnesses are unable to survive in acidic environments. By modifying the pH of the stomach, an increase in hydrochloric acid can serve as the immune system’s first line of defense in preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. Among those counted, Betaine HCL shows the potential to slow the growth of the Helicobacter Pylori bacterium, which has been implicated as a leading cause of gastritis3.

The production of additional stomach acids may help in the release of stored hydrogen ions that can be found in the blood and interstitial fluids, which is key to restoring a pH balance within the body4. Balance is the key word, however, when it comes to properly dosing Betaine HCL as a dietary supplement.

Excessively high and excessively low pH levels in the stomach exhibit similar symptoms of gastric distress, which may result in a burning sensation in either case. An increase in hydrochloric acid has specifically been linked to gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)3. True Nutrition recommends that users begin with 1 Serving of 325mg Betaine HCL to be taken before a protein-enriched meal in order to gauge stomach acidity levels. If no noticeable symptoms of acid reflux occur, users may increase to 1 Serving of 650mg Betaine HCL to be taken before a protein-enriched meal. True Nutrition recommends consulting with a physician to determine if you are experiencing reduced stomach acid production and may require a digestive aid such as Betaine HCL as part of your dietary supplementation.

True Nutrition offers Betaine HCL in powder form, and it will soon be made available in our new digestive enzyme blend:

It is our goal to help you meet your goals, and adding True Nutrition‘s Betaine HCL as a digestive aid may be the key to your continued success! Ask us how Betaine HCL can complement your healthy lifestyle today!

*DISCLAIMER: The above description is provided for information only and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician or the appropriately licensed professional before engaging in a program of exercise or nutritional supplementation. No information in this site has been reviewed by the FDA. No product is intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease.


1. Guyton, A.C., Textbook of medical physiology. 8th ed. 1991, Philadelphia: Saunders. xli, 1014 p. 2. 2.
2. Allison JR. The relation of hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex deficiency in certain skin diseases. South Medical Journal, 1945. 38: p.235-241.
3. Naylor, G. and A. Axon, Role of bacterial overgrowth in the stomach as an additional risk factor for gastritis. Can J Gastroenterol, 2003. 17 Suppl B: p. 13B-17B.
4. Kelly G. Hydrochloric acid: physiologic functions and clinical implications. Altern Medical Review, 1997. 2: pg. 116-127.
5. Sonnenberg, A., Review article: trials on reflux disease — the role of acid secretion and inhibition. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2004. 20 Suppl 5: p. 2-8; discussion 38-9.