Alcohol – First in a new series of articles


I thought I would start sharing info about certain things that can cause nutrition deficiency. Some of these you probably would never imagine could have an effect on your nutrition. Hope you learn some new things. I know I am as I read through several books on nutrition.


Malnutrition is a common result of alcohol abuse. Alcohol either replaces other nutritious foods and thus limits nutrient intake or, less often, is consumed in conjunction with adequate food intake and thus contributes to obesity. Alcohol also increases a woman’s requirements for several nutrients, including vitamins B1 and B6, biotin, and niacin, which aid in detoxification of alcohol in the liver. Alcohol is suspected of increasing free radical damage to tissues, which increases the body’s need for the antioxidant nutrients to repair and rebuild damaged tissues.

Alcohol irritates and damages the digestive tract and inhibits the absorption of several nutrients, including vitamins C, B1, B12, folic acid, the fat-soluble vitamins, protein, calcium and other nutrients. In turn, deficiencies of these nutrients affect the absorptive capability of the digestive tract and can contribute to malnutrition. 

Alcohol interferes with the body’s use of many nutrients, so even if the diet is adequate, the nutrients are unavailable for normal metabolic processes. Consequently, symptoms of malnutrition develop. For example, excessive alcohol interferes with the conversion of vitamins D, B1, B6, and folic acid to their biologically active forms, so malnutrition develops even when dietary intake of these nutrients is adequate.

Alcohol also depletes the body’s tissue stores of several nutrients, including vitamins A and E, and selenium. Many of these nutrients function as antioxidants, and alcohol-induced depletion of these nutrients can leave the body defenseless against disease and infection. 

One study by the Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla, New York, reported that selenium concentrations are depleted before clinical signs of liver damage are noted in alcoholics, which suggests limited antioxidant status might contribute to alcohol-induced liver damage.

Women might suffer the effects of alcohol more than men. Compared to men, women maintain higher blood levels of alcohol after drinking the equivalent amount of alcohol. One study showed that the lining of a man’s stomach has higher concentrations of enzymes to inactivate alcohol, while more alcohol remains intact in a woman’s stomach and enters the bloodstream. These higher blood levels over time could place women at higher risk for liver disease, pancreas problems, nerve damage, and nutritional deficiencies.

Really explains why most men have a higher tolerance level, doesn’t it, ladies?

Let me know what you think! :)

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