When we first decided to stop drinking, it was because we found that even moderate amounts of alcohol were making us feel pretty lousy. After a night out, that included a couple of drinks, it started to take us days to recover.
At the time, we just put this down to getting older, but once we decided to do something about that situation and started researching the facts of what alcohol does to the human body the effects it had on us became very clear.
Alcohol holds very little nutritional value. Each drink contains approximately 100-150 empty calories which the body treats as fat, converting alcohol sugars into fatty acids.
Alcohol actively inhibits the absorption and bio-availability of vital nutrients such as thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc.
- Thiamin (vitamin B1) is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fat and the formation of hemoglobin.
- Vitamin B12 is essential to good health. It helps maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells.
- Folic acid is an integral part of a coenzyme involved in the formation of new cells.
- Zinc is essential for energy metabolic processes.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Because it helps convert carbohydrates into energy, thiamine plays a vital role in your body’s energy production and the health of the brain and nervous system. Alcohol impairs the absorption of thiamine in the intestine, as a result up to 80% of heavy drinkers have some degree of thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is water-soluble and poorly stored in the body, so depletion can happen in just 2 weeks or less!
Signs of deficiency include loss of appetite, constipation, depression and irritability.
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
Alcohol can contribute to low levels of pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the production of fuel and energy and is critical for the optimal function of our nerves, skin and red blood cells.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
Beyond supporting growth and development from infancy, folate is essential for maintaining healthy brain function. In addition, folate and vitamins B6 and B12 are important regulators of the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid in our blood. When blood levels of these B-vitamins are low, homocysteine rises, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Zinc deficiency is common in heavy drinkers. Zinc helps protect us against upper respiratory infections and maintains healthy blood sugar. It repairs our DNA and helps wounds to heal. There is some evidence that zinc may also offer some protection against depression. Common signs of zinc deficiency include mental fatigue, hair loss, and impotence in men.