Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is a condition that may be implicated in a variety of digestive system complaints. Sufficient stomach acid is necessary for the proper digestion of proteins, the hydrochloric acid effectively ‘straightening out’ the long lines of amino acids that form each protein. This facilitates the action of protein splitting enzymes that can then easily break the protein into its component parts (amino acids). In a low acid environment this crucial first step may be inefficient and protein-splitting enzymes become ineffective. The improper break down of proteins may eventually lead to digestive problems including indigestion and allergies. Stomach acid levels decline with age and may also be reduced by stress and antacid use. Betaine hydrochloride supplementation may help to increase stomach acid levels.