Sodium bicarbonate is secreted in the pancreas to help aid in digestion. This compound helps neutralize stomach acid generated during the digestive process and breaks down certain enzymes. Sodium bicarbonate levels in the body must be neither too low or too high in order for digestion to proceed normally and the digestive tract to remain healthy.
Properties of Sodium Bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is a weak base. This means it can neutralize acids but the chemical reaction is not very strong or severe. The Material Safety Data Sheet for sodium bicarbonate says that it can be toxic in very large doses but is generally safe for consumption. According to the State University of New York, sodium bicarbonate secretion in the body is necessary to neutralize stomach acid during the digestive process.
Secretion of Sodium Bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is secreted in the pancreas. According to the State University of New York, it is found in pancreatic juices along with several enzymes used to digest proteins.
Purpose of Secretion
Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes gastric acid. Gastric acid is generated in the stomach and is used to break down food once it enters the stomach. Excess gastric acid in the body can cause stomach ulcers.
Under-secretion of Sodium Bicarbonate
If the pancreas does not produce enough sodium bicarbonate, gastric acid remains in the system. This condition can be corrected by refraining from eating spicy or overly acidic foods as well as drinking alcohol. Excess gastric acid can also be neutralized by taking sodium bicarbonate supplements.
Over-secretion of Sodium Bicarbonate
According to the Material Data Safety Sheet on sodium bicarbonate, excessive amounts of sodium bicarbonate in the system can cause bloating, nausea, thirst and inflammation of the gastric system. Excessive secretion of sodium bicarbonate also leads to insufficient levels of gastric acid in the stomach, which can cause improper digestion.
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