Are Stomach Woes the Missing Link to Your Hair Loss?

April 4, 2023
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Your thinning hair may be a sign that you’re not digesting and absorbing nutrients properly.

Carla was just 30 years old when she started noticing her hair was thinning. It started with seeing more hair than normal on her brush and in her shower drain, but soon it became obvious when she looked in the mirror – she was losing her hair. She came to me at age 32, after she had tried all the creams and shampoos her dermatologist had offered and hadn’t seen any improvement.

When I asked if she had any other troubling symptoms, she mentioned her fingernails break easily, she gets occasional leg cramps, and she is often bloated right after eating. She also went through an intensely stressful time shortly before these symptoms appeared. Putting all of this together led to me to the conclusion she had low stomach acid, and I’m happy to report that with just a few supplements and lifestyle modifications she is feeling much better and has new hair growth.

Hair loss is a common problem, affecting at least half of all men and more than 25 percent of all women. While hair loss can be hereditary, there are other root causes that can be reversed, including hormone imbalance and digestive issues. When someone comes to me to solve the mystery of hair loss, my detective work starts with your stomach acid levels and how well you are absorbing nutrients.

The Importance of Being Acidic

Millions of people are on stomach acid reducing or blocking medications that are handed out like candy by medical professionals, and are even available OTC at the pharmacy. And with all of the health books out there talking about the importance of our bodies being alkaline, it would seem that stomach acid isn’t important. But nothing could be further from the truth!

Your ideal stomach pH is 2, which is very acidic. Hydrochloric acid, which is the acid in your stomach, is one of the strongest acids known to man. This acid is the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and parasites that are ingested with food. It activates pepsin, which is an important enzyme needed for protein digestion, and signals the production and release of pancreatic enzymes for further digestion and absorption.

Without adequate stomach acid we aren’t able to absorb minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, or B vitamins like thiamine, folate, and vitamin B12. Stomach acid deficiency also leads to being unable to break down proteins into energy and their amino acids, which are important for DNA and healthy cell formation. All of this together leads to the inability to form collagen and ultimately hair loss, not to mention autoimmune diseases and other serious illnesses.

Do You Have Low Stomach Acid? Take This Quiz and Find Out!

Give yourself one point for each statement that is true for you:

  1. I have belching, bloating, or acid reflux right after eating.
  2. I have constipation.
  3. I have food allergies.
  4. I have hair loss.
  5. I have leg or foot cramps.
  6. I have gallstones or have had my gallbladder removed.
  7. I have acne, rosacea, eczema, or chronic hives.
  8. I have mineral deficiencies like iron, calcium, or magnesium.
  9. I am deficient in vitamin B12 or have pernicious anemia.
  10. My fingernails break easily or have vertical ridges.
  11. I am losing muscle mass.
  12. I have low bone density or osteoporosis.
  13. I have autoimmune disease.
  14. I have cognitive problems or memory loss.
  15. I have SIBO, chronic intestinal infections, Candida, or parasites.
  16. I see undigested food in my bowel movements.
  17. I have “leaky gut.”
  18. I have tested as having low stomach acid or have been on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for more than 2 months.
  19. I have had weight loss surgery.
  20. I struggle with fatigue.

If you scored more than 3 points, you are at risk for low stomach acid. If you don’t have peptic ulcer disease, then I recommend the following test to see if gastric acid supplementation is right for you:

  • Purchase a bottle of HCL+2 from UNI KEY Health.
  • Take one capsule before a large meal that contains fat and protein.
  • If you have normal stomach acid levels, you will feel like you have heartburn.
  • If you do not feel a burning sensation, then you would benefit from gastric acid supplementation.

Supplements to Help Normalize Stomach Acid Levels

Fortunately, the stomach is very responsive to changes in its environment, so even small changes can have a long lasting effect. Start by taking a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar every morning before breakfast. This wakes up your digestion and lowers the pH of the stomach. Next, if you don’t have peptic ulcer disease, supplement with UNI KEY Health’s HCL+2 with every meal after breakfast that contains fat and protein. It’s best to take it before you eat, but if you forget, take it as soon as you remember.

If you took the acid test and had no burning with one capsule, then increase it to two capsules with each meal. After two days of doing this, if there’s no burning, then increase to three capsules per meal. Keep increasing every couple of days until you feel a warmth or burning. Your dose will be one pill less than the dose that gave you the burning.

As your stomach gets the message from the supplement that it needs to increase acid production, it will start to adjust. This means that over time you should need to supplement less and less, until you are able to stop completely. So, whenever you feel burning, decrease your dose. Some people, especially older adults or those who’ve had gastric surgery, may not be able to stop the supplement, but should be able to cut down.

If you are over age 65, have had gastric surgery, or have peptic ulcer disease, then pancreatic enzyme supplementation is a must. I recommend Digesta-Key, taken with meals. If you also have joint inflammation or autoimmune disease, you can take these between meals for their anti-inflammatory properties. Do not take between meals if you have peptic ulcers.

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more… check out my Radical Health Tips.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!



    Inf-Zyme is a good formula to help with digestion if you have a thin stomach lining.

  2. Kari

    I’ve had gastric bypass surgery and now have a very thin stomach lining. I can’t take anything acidic.

  3. Shelia Wilkerson

    What if it’s due to thyroid issue?


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