Once in a while everyone likes to have a drink. And that’s more or less fine if you know your limits. But you also need to know what alcohol does to your system so that come the moment, you can cut back and do your body some good.
That’s why everyone, not just the experts, recommends that you do so in moderation. Now, it is well known that alcohol intake has a bad effect on your liver and kidneys. But it also depletes the nutrients in the body. Let’s see how that happens and what the result is, shall we?
About Alcohol Intake and Vitamin Depletion
Vitamins have an important role to play in our body’s ability to process alcohol. When the liver does not supply enough nutrients, the bloodstream steps in to fill the gap. But at this point, the blood cells don’t have the nutrients they need to allow regular bodily functions.
When you drink alcohol on a regular basis but decide one day that you’ve had enough of it and stop, you will notice that your body starts to experience anxiety, tremors, shakiness, insomnia and even depression. Apart from that, there is also the crutch of bad memory and a dent in your cognitive abilities.
But if you don’t stop consuming alcohol, it turns into abuse and the body runs short of necessary vitamins. You end up eating less and less because your body gets its calories from the alcohol you’re drinking. But this doesn’t make up for it because as you would suspect, alcohol does not contain essential nutrients.
Too much alcohol also damages your gastrointestinal tract, which then compromises your bloodstream’s ability to absorb the nutrients that are finding their way into your body. Not just that, the alcohol also pushes them out of your body as soon as it can.
So, you end up with vitamin deficiencies. You might think that is not a major health concern and if you do, you really should keep reading.
A lack of essential vitamins in the body can lead to:
- Chronic fatigue
- Bone loss
It will also lead to alcohol withdrawal and increase your sickness and pain. A lot of these problems are caused by a deficiency of the B-complex vitamins which are not great friends with alcohol. These vitamins are important for both the physical and mental well-being of a human being.
So what are B-complex vitamins? It is a set of eight B vitamins and each of them has a specific function.
B-complex vitamins are:
- B1 or thiamine
- B2 or riboflavin
- B3 or niacin
- B5 or pantothenic acid
- B6 or pyridoxine
- B7 or biotin
- B9 or folic acid
- B12 or cobalamin
- A B1 or thiamine deficiency causes irritability, triggers depression and might even lead to cardiac disorders and neurological problems.
- Studies have shown that a B2 or riboflavin deficiency is present in patients of depression.
- A B3 or niacin deficiency can cause anxiety, fatigue and depression.
- A B5 or pantothenic acid deficiency can cause chronic stress, fatigue and depression.
- A B6 or pyridoxine deficiency has the power to disrupt your neurotransmitters from being formed.
- A B9 or folic acid deficiency and B12 or cobalamin deficiency are known to be a cause for depression.
But there’s more.
This is important for night vision and regulating the immune system. It is also responsible for cell division and bone growth and it gets affected by alcohol consumption.
You typically find it in fortified cereals and dairy products. A lack of vitamin A, which is caused by drinking alcohol, increases the latter’s toxicity in the body. And it’s not easy to make up for it in supplements because it is hard to detect a vitamin A deficiency when there is alcohol in the system.
In fact, vitamin A is toxic when you take too much in the form of supplements. So, you cannot try to err either. You can try beta-carotene supplements, but this is not an option for smokers because it can increase the risk of cancer in smokers. Your best option is to moderate your drinking habits.
This is an important one for bone and tissue repair. It also removes free radicals from the body, which means you cannot neglect it at all. Citrus fruits contain a good deal of this vitamin. But drinking a screwdriver won’t do it.
Next up is vitamin D and its deficiency can cause bone problems like osteoporosis, weakness in the teeth and rickets. Dairy products, fish and sunlight are all good sources of this vitamin. So, dining outdoors when it’s warm and toasty is not a bad idea.
Excessive alcohol intake can also cause vitamin E deficiency. It is present in spinach, grain and seed nut oils. A vitamin E deficiency can cause muscle and nerve damage.
And at the end of this horrific road is alcohol’s ability to deplete vitamin K. This is actually very rare and the way you know there is a problem is if your blood doesn’t clot often. Leafy vegetables, eggs and fish are rich in vitamin K.
The Bottom Line
Alcohol abuse is not something you can take lightly. It is a leading problem in the US and kills over 80,000 people every year directly and indirectly. There are many short- and long-term physical and mental problems that are the result of alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) and vitamin deficiency is one of the most common results.
If you continue with this abuse for a long time, your body will make a habit of losing essential minerals and vitamins that will eventually lead to lethal consequences. This is particularly dangerous in young adults who are still in their growth phase.
Chronic alcohol intake also causes mood and cognition disruptions which are bad at any age. Too many of these conditions are connected to a deficiency of B vitamins. If you are a regular consumer of alcohol, it is worth remembering that even a balanced diet and exercise can only help to an extent.