Do You Have Low Hydrochloric Acid? Betaine hydrochloride is also known as hydrochloric acid (HCl) or stomach acid. It helps digest food by breaking up fats and proteins. The low pH of the stomach’s hydrochloric acid also destroys ingested bacteria and other microorganisms. Adequate levels of HCl are necessary for adequate absorption of protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and iron. Healthy stomach acid is needed for a healthy digestive tract. If you have low stomach acid, even the best food cannot be properly digested. If you are unable to absorb nutrients properly, this can lead to terrible health problems. Healthy stomach acid helps kill disease-causing microbes and parasites routinely found in food you eat. If you have low stomach acid, these infecting invaders may not be destroyed by your stomach’s acid bath. They can then cause many types of infections. Now you can see why low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is associated with so many common health problems.